Reflection of Eric Zimmerman’s

Narrative, Interactivity, Play, and Games:

Four naughty concepts in need of discipline


Eric Zimmerman’s article on the aforementioned points in the title was an interesting dive into the subject. For one, it felt like a good perspective opener, both as a refresher for some old ideas as well as fresh new ones. Especially in the way he breaks down ‘Interactivity’, particularly being an Interactive Media student myself. Bringing to mind something I didn’t expect, Meta-Activity. To me this aspect I’d have counted as a separate entity completely, especially because it feels like an activity after an interactive experience; also the aspect of fan culture also was a neat mention of this sort of interaction. Thinking back, and considering something I heard of previously, post-interaction aspects are also an area to be looked into. For example, the aforementioned ‘heard of previously’ interactive exhibit allowed for a 90 second snippet of your interaction with the exhibit to be uploaded to YouTube. Which I thought was nice, especially when I often wish I could take the experience along with me in some form after I’ve left the place.

Regarding play, for a moment while reading, I thought that play should be an integral aspect of a memorable exhibit, to which I counter-thought, I can think of exhibits or interactive experiences that don’t require play, to which I started to re-read the articles stance on the definitions of play. I’m still ruminating on this aspect to be honest, but it’s an interesting point that I’ll be delving into personally.

Other parts that I particularly liked was that play was a result, to paraphrase loosely, is a result of structure or rules; a reminder that in the creation of one thing, an opposite wouldn’t necessarily be a void. Additionally, that an aspect of a random restriction also introduces an aspect of play and fun, eg. A die.

I felt though, that his use of Ms Pac-Man was a bit of a stretch to spin the narrative that he did out of the game and to attribute its success to that narrative. I find the appeal to be in the pursuits of high scores, technical prowess to avoid the ghosts and its animated

graphics for its time. Its decline in popularity in my opinion shows that indeed it was not the narrative that kept its popular position. Did its narrative decline over the years or was it the invention of newer, “shiner” games? Narratives have been rehashed for years and presented in a myriad of ways without a decline in their viewership, save for contextually related themes.


Image result for psychedelic pac man




Making a visual journal was a very new experience for me. I wasn’t sure to approach it from a “academic” point of view or more towards the concept of what I thought a visual journal would be (though, they could totally be one and the same, personal and presented academically). I tried to do both, but having a tendency to think more in vibes/feelings, phrasing some of my thoughts out comes in the form of sparse/sporadic words. Looking at my classmates rather systematic and seemingly analytical journals made me wonder and worry that I was on the wrong side of the fence. However, in seeing my self-critique, my lecturer, Joy, suggested “letting go” (more on this later).

223-franz-kline-011Prior to the assignment, we were asked to research on some artists. I chose Franz Kline as his artwork was the sort of Abstract art I grew up disliking cause I didn’t understand why it was so highly prized. For me, understanding the mindset and thoughts of the artist, helps me understand their artwork, and this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

Delving into his work, has really opened my eyes. I used to think that majority of abstract art (*koff koff* Jackson Pollock) was just a lot of faffing about but in learning about Franz Kline’s approach to his art, I’ve gained a whole new perspective of abstract art. He put a great deal of conceptualization into a piece before he put brush to canvas. I also learnt that the white sections were painted as well, helping shift the white spaces in to having as much importance as the black portions.

Similarly, I’ve felt the need for conceptualization before starting on my own abstract representations in this assignment. As to “letting go”, being overly picky of what I’ve drafted had the tendency to limit what comes out. In trying different methods, for example, the mind-map, suggested by Joy, helped me further conceptualize ideas by letting my mind roam about linked phrases or concepts.

“Letting go” was a way to stop being so heavy on the self-critique. It also helped me get into more free-form exploration in ways that I hadn’t tried before. I enjoyed the way ideas sprang from this approach. I did struggle at first though, with the technique feeling ‘out of my control’ at times, I sometimes felt like I hadn’t put enough effort into the final product and sometimes felt disconnected from the artwork. Thankfully, I think I managed to find a balance that felt natural to me and it carried on quite well from that point.

I felt that preface was necessary before looking into my visual journal as I’d hope it’ll help the viewer understand a bit of my mindset whilst doing this (like what I needed to understand abstract art), especially since my words are rather few and far between in there.