June 2021

For the Cumulus Web conference, Imagination Lancaster created a Gather Town space to present all the different clusters of work. I created this using a constellation styled theme which allowed for each cluster to be a separate star in the logo. To experience the project just click on the links above.

Reading through this series of books both quoting and reflecting on their ideas, the books about internet culture, game space, and design of physical environments have begun to merge into one unified idea. The ways in which we explore spaces shift throughout our lifetimes. At younger ages, the apparent malleability available within our minds allows for a great degree of learning in many different forms.

I want to explore the opposite end of this spectrum. Throughout of lockdown, living at home, I have realised the lack of understanding my parents have for digital constructs as a whole. Introducing them to games intended for children, the apparent oversight the designers had to make modern games tangible to those unfamiliar with their languages is clear. I want to use this issue to help myself and others better understand how an introduction to game space might come about later in life, and how this may translate to the design of further digital and cyber spaces which are more elaborate in the future. This is because while designing for a malleable young mind may be simple, making the same notions understandable to a person heavily entrenched in the physical reality we have inhabited for many millennia is much more overwhelming.

Currently I have attempted to introduce them them to Breath of the Wild, an installment in the Zelda series which is notorious for its ability to allow for varying approaches to every encounter.

This video critique heavily highlights this notion of varying levels of rewards and challenge being available in game space for different users, which in turn makes a game enjoyable for a whole host of people at different experience levels with games.

However one of the biggest obstacles for those who have never indulged in virtual three dimensional spaces, is the notion of controlling a camera whilst moving. In VR this is a non-issue, because the camera takes the same form of control as looking in real life, which removes this further degree of intangible access. However if a user cannot visually navigate puzzles they aim to solve, how are they able to ‘view the whole picture’ in order to begin to unravel its already foreign mechanics in their mindset.

I want to explore methods for teaching them how to use this mechanic from the ground up. From my understanding I have broken this down into two factors. In a third person game, playing from behind the character, the understanding of the camera itself becomes the most difficult to grasp. Therefore there is two stages to developing this skill. Playing through a simplified Zelda game named Link to the Past. This will teach the recognition of basic landmarks, enemies and puzzles in the style of a nintendo game. As each company has slightly varying ways of defining and drawing out hazards, icons and puzzles, this will help to build this base level understanding whilst removing the three dimensional camera control which adds confusion.

The second stage is to play a first person three dimensional game, which will be easier to control due to the camera being the eyes and orientation of the character simultaneously. Superliminal is a short puzzle game in this style without time pressures, but with a heavy reliance on using perspective and to solve things through unexpected visual ways. This will promote the mindset of spatial angling and positioning in a very simple form factor.

After seperating the camera positioning in three dimensions, and puzzle style, adventure gameplay, a return to the original Zelda game should prove much more tangible. This entire concept derives from a specific quote in Image of the City:

‘It must be granted that there is some value in mystification, labyrinth, or surprise in the environment. Many of us enjoy the House of Mirrors, and there is a certain charm in the crooked streets of Boston. This is so, however only under two conditions. First, there must be no danger of losing basic form or orientation, of never coming out. The surprise must occur in an over-all framework; the confusion must be small regions in a visible whole. Furthermore, the labyrinth or mystery must in itself have some form that can be explored and in time be apprehended.’ (pg.5).

With this in mind, I intend to write up the revelations of both my parents after experiencing each of these games through general discussion, and through a specific set of questions after playing each title.

The image above is of the keyboard which I created several months ago in an attempt to represent the foreign nature of interfaces to the unknowing user. The keys were merged together and I dug it up recently as an attempt to improve my repairing skills of 3D scans in apprehension for experimenting with the iPad Pro scanning when I receive it. I also think that the object itself is heavily relevant to the notions of a paper I am writing about gather town as a method of digital interaction, as well as the concept of game world understanding due to the alien feeling their controls can often have.