Category: Reading and reflection


TEAM LAB|FUTURE WORLDSpeople-flowers-1920x595

Our visit to Future Worlds was, without a doubt, an eye opener. My favorite would be the first part of the exhibition, Nature.

As an Interactive Media student, I was taken away by the level of immersion one can experience with the space. A few of us started looking up and around , searching for hidden projectors and cameras, wondering at how they managed to achieve such a feat.

As an audience, I was no less breath-taken. It is hard to put together the sense of awe one has for the piece, even when understanding how it works.

What intrigued me beyond the level of tech that was needed for the piece was the art itself.

Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together – A Whole Year per Year | Ever Blossoming Life II – A Whole Year per Year; Dark | Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders

This installation was actually made up of three works put together in a seamless space.

“Flutter of Butterflies Beyond Borders” was a screen where the Butterflies would fly in and out of the installation. When existing other of the screen, they can be touched and can die. When in the screen, they are protected.

“Ever Blossoming life ” covered the wall and the floors with flowers.  As we moved around the room and step on them, they wither .When we leave things untouched, they grow back.

Team lab basically created a space where the interaction mattered beyond just pushing buttons or waving hands. There was actually some meaning in the way we interacted with the space. Our interactions was hurting nature.

I thought that that was beautiful and very powerful. Having our actions reflect a kind of destruction and showing how our absence can allow things to be beautiful as they are felt like a stronger point and more provoking than the thousands of articles that people have post about global warming.

There’s something very special about the works that Team Lab has done.

Firstly, using mechanics as a kind of metaphor helps us to make a statement clearer and such metaphors more weight.

It allows us to better understand and learn the effects of what we do. The nature of the works by Team Lab are very engaging and when given deeper thought, we began to understand better the weight of what they are trying to say.

However, one might argue that this level of engagement causes people to lose sight of what the project is about.

The interactive nature of the works draws us in and one can get carried away with it just because it is fun.

In fact, while we were there, it is no surprise to see kids stepping on the flowers and butterflies on purpose just to get a kind of feedback. We ourselves get carried away with the interaction simply because we want to see things happening in that space. They presented us a paradox that reflected not just the nature we are destroying, but the nature of men.

After a few moments inside, it felt like it was alright to just destroy everything since it was going to grow again, and upon knowing that the visuals change the seasons, I could not help but wonder if the meaning of this work was lost some where in it’s own beauty.

Would I want to come back to an installation that was as beautiful as it was in a different season despite being constantly trampled on. Or would the work be more powerful if one day we return to the space only to find a desolated waste land.

For me, I do understand that the nature of the work and the space has to attract tourists to visit and that there is a lot less appeal in a waste land as compared to a garden. Yet I cannot help but wonder if the meaning of the work was lost in the ludic nature of the work…


Generative Art

Generative Forms






Art that has been generated by a system


27-7-wall.instructionsimages (1)

wall Drawings , Sol Lewitt (1971)



Cut-up technique, Brion Gysin, Tristan Tzara, William Burroughs, Davd Bowie, Remix



Drawing machines, Jean Tinguely (1950s)


Designing Processess

Art Forms in nature, by Erst Haeckel


Stories in games – Papers, please and other story-telling games

Can we tell stories in games?

An age old question that many game designers have started challenging for decades, yet it is only recently we started to see more and more successful works that integrate the way stories are told into virtual worlds.

“Papers, please”  is a brilliant example.

Would you play a game about a guy whose job is something as repetitive as clearing papers for customs? The nature of the job seems boring enough, yet underneath this exterior is an intricately woven story that makes you feel more about the world than some big budget block busters can even come close to.

A world filled with terror and legal constrictions, where your failure in your job can cost your family their lives. A world where a lot is showed, and little is told, giving players the points to let them draw the lines themselves. I recall in one level, after clearing a man and letting him through, he whispered, “My wife is behind. Please let her through.”

The lady that came next suddenly was no longer just another character to clear, but someone else’s wife. Suddenly there was so much weight in what I was doing. I could let her in at the expense of my own wages, possible leading to my family starving in later game, or I could deny her and separate the two couple. The story was in my control. My actions had real weight and for a second there, I did not know what to do.

I choose the former, and was punished with a pay cut but was rewarded with a token from the lady and a heartfelt thank you.

And I’ll admit, even until now, it still feels good.

I believe that that should be the nature of narrative in game.


An interaction can be simple but yet the choices we make can have weight.


Another example is ” This war of mine”

I never thought I’ll ever play a game that was hard to play emotionally but the war torn world of the game changed my mind.

It took every element of a zombie survival game and removed the zombies and became one of the most powerful and gripping tales.

The choices I make comes back to haunt me.

Stealing from an old lady makes me sick. Choosing between running from a fight or helping another felt like a real choice.

A wrong move meant that I would die. Yet I didn’t know what the right moves were either.





I believe that such interactions add layers of meaning into the story.


There is real weight in the decisions that we make in the game, we feel that it is real and hence the decisions in the game matter.


Spatial Narrative



Guy Debord’s – The Naked City (1957)

Guy Debord’s Naked City, present the most radical departure from the grid. In reaction to the rational city models embraced by Parisian postwar planners in the 1950s, he and his colleagues co-opted the map of Paris, reconfiguring the experience of the city through its authority. By manipulating the map itself, they intervened in the logic of the city, constructing an alternative geography that favored the marginalized, and often threatened, spaces of the urban grid. Torn from their geographical context, these areas were woven together by arrows inspired by the itineraries of the drift or “dérive.” These “psychogeographic” maps proposed a fragmented, subjective, and temporal experience of the city as opposed to the seemingly omnipotent perspective of the planimetric map. As mapping is used as a tactic to bring together personal narratives about urban space, the Situationist maps provide a useful example of visualizing a subjective view of the city.
The central problem with these maps is not in the way in which they confront norms of cartography, but the duration to which they are bound. The ephemeral nature of psychogeographic space meant that these sites could quickly shift through the pressures of development. The Situationist maps in turn become an archive of a specific moment in the life of the city. However, if these maps incorporated time, they would be able to show the migration or disappearance of these psychogeographic spaces, highlighting and critiquing the urban trends that were / are shaping the city.

This entry was posted in Articles, Literature. Bookmark the permalink.

I was introduced to The Naked City about a year ago by Luis, my 4d professor.

He introduced to us this concept of dérive which is “

 an unplanned journey through a landscape, usually urban, on which the subtle aesthetic contours of the surrounding architecture and geography subconsciously direct the travellers, with the ultimate goal of encountering an entirely new and authentic experience. Situationist theorist Guy Debord defines the dérive as “a mode of experimental behavior linked to the conditions of urban society: a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiances.”

” Can maps be a form of narrative? What does maps actually tell us?

Designing an interface

In the book, the Dreamcatcher, one of the character described having a memory warehouse in his mind, able to retrieve and store any memory, this is also known as the method of loci (loci being Latin for “places”[1]), memory palace, mind palace. This method depends more on spatial memory than simply intelligence.

Having collected some images for my project, I’ve come to realize one of the greater challenges one must face when handling interactive narrative is not what story you wish to tell, but how to tell it.

If we understand our stories as routes, can we create a means of  navigating through narratives? How would that change the way we experience stories than simply just buttons. What if we could actually see how the paths interlink and criss-cross. Would that change the way we navigate through stories?

The next step for this project is not so much to simple just take more images, but also to understand how these images can be shown.

Can we map it out several stories so that we can better see relationships?

What about choices we make in the experience? Does it even affect anything? And should it affect?

My goal now is to put the stories together and allow one to navigate it like a maze.


nelly2 1399_6


  1. the quality or condition of presenting a narrative.

Perhaps we can understand narrativity is the way we deliver narratives. The nature of this notion is evolving with the experiments and explorations of technology and how we can use it to tell stories.


The nature of stories themselves are also changing. Stories , once only experienced in one dimension , can now be re visited and enjoyed with different outcomes.

Why do we tell stories?

The nature of stories have evolved but the nature of storytelling and why we tell stories have stayed very much the same. We tell stories differently but why we tell them is very much, at least I believe, the same.

We tell stories because it is who we are. Stories are the shared experiences that we have. We tell stories to share experiences.



Reflection on Narrative, Interactivity, Play and Games

/ *

A bit about the Author…

Eric Zimmerman makes games and teaches game design. Zimmerman has taught at universities including MIT, the University of Texas at Austin, Parsons School of Design, New York University, Rhode Island School of Design and School of Visual Arts. Beginning in 2010, he serves as an Arts Professor at the NYU Game Center, within the Tisch School of the Arts.[2]

Other readings

Some interesting projects




After reading this, i did a little google search about who this person is. I browsed through quickly some of his works and came upon this article,  – Manifesto for a Ludic Century.

I took a quick look and found three interesting points

  1. Gaming literacy can address our problems
  2. In the Ludic Century, everyone will be a game designer.
  3. Games are beautiful. They do not need to be justified.

I then drew parallels to what that meant for games and what meant for stories and came to a conclusion, which I will try explain.

I’ll come back to this three points in a moment, let me first explain my feelings about the reading.


I found the given reading rather interesting as it redefines and even refines the idea of games and interactive narrative to me and one paragraph resonated with me, much more strongly than the others.

“What am I after? I’f I’m intersecting games and stories to create something new out of the synthesis of both, my aim with the concept of narrative should not be to replicate existing narrative forms but to invent new ones. The commercial game industry is suffering from a peculiar case of cinema envy at the moment…”


This made me think.

We cannot and should not define our understanding of game narrative by the way older mediums have defined their own narratives, this is not to say that there is no credit to that but games have to evolve beyond those experiences. We as game designers need to approach stories in a much different way than how a story teller or even a film maker would see the stories.

I used to define games by a spectrum, with two ending ranging from Narrative to Play.  What interests me most as an artist is to look for ways where we can “play stories and read games”.  Zimmerman made me rethink this idea. There isn’t just 2 elements, but 4. He also cleverly defines each of them to help us better understand this.

These four concepts overlap with each other, and instead of looking at what separates them, I would like to take a moment to look at what over laps.

I’ll be talking about two of it for today, maybe some day when I find the will do write more, I’ll finish it proper.


Let’s look at the two overlaps.


1 Narrative + Play =  Amnesia // the blank character story

2 Narrative +Interactivity = Between two doors // the space between choices




Here’s  something we seen way too many times. Amnesia games.

Characters who have no memory of who they are, where they come from or even their name.  This is so common in game stories…


2 reasons.

1.It begins the story ‘in media res’, or in the middle of. While most stories start up in act 1, games typically start of in act 2, where the action is already happening and then player gets to play in the role of the character, either in a war zone or in a pursuit of a murder. Stories that start with this opening typically get into the action faster and hence, get to the ‘play’ faster.

2. The idea  of a ‘blank slate’ in games. The idea that you ARE the character, and the idea that the blank slate is more immersive because they play as themselves or who they want to be.




TBC */