In this episode, I struggle with, and mostly reject, a lot of the formalist ideas I previously held about art. Art – whether it’s games, music, movies, or anything else – is largely about connecting with other people. When you like something, it’s largely because of a lot of subconscious processes that are largely informed by a specific language of art that you personally have developed for yourself, based on your own personal experiences that aren’t the same as anyone else’s. So just as I would be a pretty bad judge of West African music as someone who has very little exposure to it, I am also a bad judge of someone who makes puzzle platformers, or someone who makes death metal music. These are specific aesthetics, or languages, that I just don’t really have the cultural capital or emotional connections to connect with. But the point is, I should try. Just as I am open to meeting and having relationships with new, different kinds of people, I should be the same way with new, different kinds of art. Art is a reflection of people, and I think it’s probably healthy to look at it that way.
This week I had a great conversation with NYU Game Center director Frank Lantz about randomness and general game design philosophy. We meant to get to three other topics – execution, reading and improvisation, but not all-that-surprisingly, we never got there in the 70+ minutes of this episode.
What does it mean when something is a “classic”? I think there’s actually a huge problem here that needs to be explored. New work is created using new cultural and scientific understandings, and it’s universally better in almost every case. We need to understand and appreciate this fact, and stop glorifying things just because they’re old.
In this episode, you’ll also hear me talk about classic games like Go and Chess, as well as talk about a better distinction between art and entertainment. Enjoy, and let me know what you think below.