Hotdesk is a programme that supports artistic and critical research processes and values space as a crucial condition of artistic production. We hope to share and open our studio space as a resource to seed more possibilities for thought, conversations and collaborations.

272 chars

11 posts

View by

Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,
Sharing session,
Gaming,
Interactive,
Livestream,
2.13.2021

It’s all fun and games...

It’s all fun and games… is an online sharing session of the thought lines that has unfolded during the hot desking period, facilitated through a livestream of an interactive online gameplay. Can ‘gaming’ serve as a platform from which new forms of knowledge building and sharing can propagate? Join the mini-games, chat, and ask questions, as we demo together!

Some cards shared includes: a CCTV image of Đoàn Thị Hươn, in a T-shirt that reads ‘lol’, who was used as an unsuspecting agent of assasination under the guises of a gameshow prank (here read as the manifestation of Metahaven’s propositions in their text ‘Can Jokes Bring Down the Government); a screengrab from the game Animal Crossing as a point of entry in thinking of games as platforms for communality; scenes from game shows that allude to potentialities of gaming as an artistic medium; and a scene of a prison’s virtual sweatshops as the setting of thinking through how games as platforms can also allow a replication of systems and structures of systematic marginalisation; amongst others.

Note:
The video above is a re-recorded session, without the live chat and live gameplay element originally included in the original live stream presentation on Twitch.

1287 chars
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,
Sharing session,
Games,
Gaming,
Interactive,
Livestream,
1.19.2021

Livestream Announcement

It’s all fun and games…
Live on 23 Jan 2021, Saturday, 3pm.

It’s all fun and games… is an online sharing session of the thought-lines that has unfolded during the hot desking period, facilitated through a livestream of an interactive online gameplay. Can ‘gaming’ serve as a platform from which new forms of knowledge building and sharing can propagate? Join the mini-games, chat, and ask questions, as we demo together!

456 chars
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,
Avatars,
Glitch feminism,
Gaming,
Technology,
Violence,
Process,
Reading list,
12.15.2020

Rafi's Reading List

I’m sharing here a reading list that I hope to either read and mull over, skim, or dip into, depending on the capacities that I’m afforded (shoutout to the fact that reading, thinking and writing, are still a luxury for some of us).

Particularly, I’m interested in understanding and learning about 1) avatars as a way of navigating gender/body dysphoria in URL-AFK-IRL via Legacy Russell’s Glitch Feminism, 2) links between gaming technologies and violence in a time of war, 3) reality testing by way of simulations via Ian Cheng’s ‘Emissaries’, 4) as per the title, how to do things with videogames with specific interests in the chapters of ‘empathy’ + ‘pranks’, 5) Hito’s musing on why gaming, 6) and the potentialities/problematics of “imagining new worlds” by way of Live Action Role Playing (LARP).

Reading List

  1. Russell, Legacy. Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto. Verso, 2020.
  2. Engberg-Pedersen, Anders. “Technologies of Experience: Harun Farocki’s Serious Games and
  3. Military Aesthetics.” Boundary 2, vol. 44, no. 4, 2017, pp. 155–78.
  4. Cheng, Ian. Emissary’s Guide To Worlding. Metis Suns, 2018.
  5. Bogost, Ian. How to Do Things with Videogames (Electronic Mediations). University Of Minnesota Press, 2011.
  6. Steyerl, Hito. Duty Free Art: Art in the Age of Planetary Civil War. Verso, 2019.
  7. Matthijs Holter, Eirik Fatland & Even Tømte. Larp, the Universe and Everything. Knutepunkt 2009.

1689 chars
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,
Games,
Music,
References,
Process,
10.12.2020

Introduction

For a start and to build a setting and environment for the hotdesking session, I’ve gathered a compilation of some music that follows loosely the trajectory of the development of gaming music: from the early 8-bit chiptune sounds via ‘Namco Game Music Vol. 1’(1987); to the shift towards using real-world, pre-recorded music via Heart of Darkness (1998), one of the early games to include an orchestral score; and to the landscape of ‘licensed’ soundtracks via Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater (1999); to the segue of the inclusion of masterpiece cinematic scores such as Silent Hill (1999); and even more modern and inventive inclusion of game music via real time or curated radio stations such as Blonded Radio as seen in Grand Theft Auto V (2013).

776 chars
Hot House
Hot House
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,
Identity,
Avatars,
Artistic Production,
Process,
Conversations,
Gaming,
11.14.2020

Conversations with Atiqah Khalim and The Super System

I spent some time talking to designer Atiqah Khalim and artist The Super System to try to understand people’s relationship with gaming — whether in an artistic and creative capacity or on a personal level — and our conversation unravelled across various topics concerning gaming: the possibilities of open world and gaming engines, technologies, stigma and ethics, communities/communality and more. Read the transcripts at the PDF below!

Some excerpts:

“[...] That's a great point that you brought up about there being a spectrum and that there could be two different ends to the spectrum. I do realize that happens. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Second Life? It's an open world game that I've been looking into... I've been digging into a lot of these random YouTube gameplays of Second Life. I see instances where, because of this anonymity that you mentioned, people feel like they have a free pass to become very vile. I've seen cyber bullying and blatant verbal racist attacks happening and various instances of these [...] ”
— Rafi

“But also, sometimes, like you're forced to conform to societal norms, right? Then this virtual world becomes your way of expressing something that you want to explore but you never had the means to.”
— Atiqah

“[...] It's kind of like playing a game where you are behind the console or behind a medium to actually control something that destroys another inanimate object. In this way, there will be this possibility that there are no life losses along the way. That is how I think gaming or gamification has changed and will change our reality.”
— The Super System

1674 chars
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,

Atiqah Khalim - Relationship with Gaming


Rafi

[...] And how about your work at Razer? It might be relevant for you to share a little bit about considering that we will be talking about gaming.

Atiqah
In Razer, I was formally hired as a UX designer. But I only stayed for about eight months, because eventually, the work that I ended up doing was leaning more to graphic design, which is different from what I signed up for initially. But it's a gaming company that produces gaming peripherals, which you might already be familiar with. The product that I was working on was called the Razer game store, which doesn't exist anymore, but was basically supposed to be this e-commerce platform for games. It's quite similar to Steam but without the ability to be an actual client from which you start games. So you're only able to buy games from there. Considering that it's a gaming company, the culture is quite interesting. The clearest difference for me [as opposed to a traditional working environment], would be the fact that sometimes you would be able to see people gaming during working hours. The guy seated in front of me could be playing Player Unknown's Battleground (PUBG) for example. And almost everyone was using mechanical keyboards because it's the keyboard that we get from the company. So you can hear the click-clacking all the time...

Rafi
There's this sort of blurring between work and play.

Atiqah
I would say so too. And in fact, I think being familiar with gaming gives you some advantage. Firstly, is the fact that you will feel closer to the products that you are creating or working on. You can empathize with the market base. I guess it makes you more enthusiastic about what you're doing also.

Rafi
Since we're on that also, maybe I can just start with sharing about my relationship with gaming. To be frank, I feel like my relationship with gaming is quite voyeuristic because I don't actually game. I grew up watching, instead of playing, a lot of games because I couldn't afford a console. However, we would occasionally borrow consoles from our cousins or friends during the holidays. And for some reason that I can't recall, we always had only one controller. My elder brother, being older than me, would hog the gaming console for the most part. I wouldn't be involved and I would just be watching him play. I think because of that I have a very weird relationship with gaming, because although I never really played, I did experience games through watching it. And I experienced the beauty and magic of gaming from this weird distance at a young age when I was impressionable. Which is why even today, I'm still really drawn to games and gaming but from this weird distance. And it will remain as such, because even today I still cannot comfortably afford a gaming console, and even if I do have one, I wouldn't have the capacity and time to enjoy playing games because of my other personal and work commitments.

Atiqah
Right, right that's true...

Rafi
With that, I wanted to ask you, what's your relationship with gaming?

Atiqah
I can't say specifically when I started but I know that it was at a young age. Growing up my brother had a GameBoy, and sometimes I would borrow it from him. Back then it was probably Pokemon or something. And then eventually, my family bought a PlayStation and so sometimes I would watch him play also. But there were times that I would also play. And after that we had a computer I think, and then I was about seven or eight years old? I played very simple games like Neopets, if you could consider that as a game. I picked up HTML skills from playing Neopets actually. There were options within the game for creating shops or guilds which you could decorate by using HTML coding. It made me look up like very basic HTML and CSS skills. And then I was also playing Runescape and The Sims. I could only play those simple games because back then the computer that we had wasn't very high end. I would say that playing those games actually helped me pick up English as a language. I would learn words that you don't learn in school. For example, mining, different types of metals, because in Runescape you are able to build weapons and stuff, right? I was also picking grammar also, through all the interactions with non-playable characters, where you can see the text compositions at the bottom...

4313 chars
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,

Atiqah Khalim - Vulnerability and The Gaming World


Rafi

That's very fascinating. As you've shared earlier about the fact that, strangely, although gaming is perceived as non-productive in society, somehow you picked up very useful skills — from learning how to code HTML and relearning your native language, and all that sort of thing. I think that was something that I was hoping to look into also. On communities in gaming... And how people create communities, or clans, or cliques, in whatever games and servers. Are there any particular anecdotes or experiences that happened with the community that you are involved with?

Atiqah
Hold on. I'm just trying to sift through my memories of gaming...

Rafi
You also mentioned how something that really drew you back to gaming was the whole communal aspect. And the idea of being able to engage with a shared community excites you. And going back to VR Chat, as I've shared earlier there are a lot of those videos, where people compile feel good moments within the game, such as being able to be vulnerable and open to sharing with strangers what their greatest fears and regrets are. I was curious to know if you had similar experiences in VR chat along those lines?

Atiqah
For me, generally it’s the fun memories and experiences shared with my friends. And there are quite a lot of them. And right now, I can't think of a specific one. But I like the fact that it's like having real-life friends. When someone wants to play a game, they would invite everyone else in our gaming community and we would play together with our mics so that we can interact. It would be different games occasionally. It could be Minecraft. It could be horror games. I think horror games are the best because you can really feel it when one person screams; which would then cause a chain and everyone else would start screaming. Those are happy memories for me. Playing games with friends. But it could also be instances where if someone needs advice, or a space to be vulnerable, our gaming social group has a friendship strong enough to the point that we are comfortable sharing about our lives with each other. I think it's that social bond that I value.

Rafi
Do you feel like, the fact that there's this idea that the gaming world is another separate world altogether, is why people feel like they can be vulnerable? Is that something you think is the case?

Atiqah
That could be the reason for it. I see different extremes. I see one extreme where we are all anonymous to the point that we are comfortable with sharing our deepest and darkest secrets. The other extreme could be the fact that we know so much about each other — we follow each other on Instagram, we've turned on our webcams and reveal our true selves and shared so much about each other — that it's almost like being a real-life friend.

Rafi
That's a great point that you brought up about there being a spectrum and that there could be two different ends to the spectrum. I do realize that happens. I'm not sure if you're familiar with Second Life? It's an open world game that I've been looking into... I've been digging into a lot of these random YouTube gameplays of Second Life. I see instances where, because of this anonymity that you mentioned, people feel like they have a free pass to become very vile. I've seen cyber bullying and blatant verbal racist attacks happening and various instances of these. And also, just other weirder stuffs happening also...

Atiqah
Isn't it quite similar to VR chat? I want to bring a taboo topic up for discussion actually. But this of course, is not based on my personal experience. But when you were talking about weird stuffs, I got reminded of this thing in VR Chat that's called ERP 21. I don't know what it's an abbreviation for. But basically, people perform sexual fantasies inside VR Chat. I know of people in real life, and they are guys, but in VR Chat they would use loli 22 avatars and they will perform like sexual stuffs on other male avatars. They would go to the extent of using voice changer so that the other player would think that they are female. It's a bit weird, but I'm not too sure if you would want to publish this.

Rafi
That's definitely something that I was also thinking about whether it’s something that's appropriate to discuss and bring up in this study... I'm not too sure myself actually. But that was something I thought about... The idea of 'contemporary ethics'. On kinks and fetishes, and performing them in these kind of gaming platforms. And what do we make out of it? On the one side, it's something that offers people a safe space to explore their sexuality or their uncertainties with their sexuality or various other forms of gender/body/identity dysphoria. On the other side, there’s the whole dilemma of catfishing. I don't know.... I don't think I have a moral stand on that. I'd like to leave it very open ended I suppose because I don't think the motivation for this study and research is to ascertain whether gaming is bad, or gaming is good. It really is just an opportunity to put it out there that these are the phenomenon that happen in gaming cultures. So that happens in VR chat... I didn't know. And there's even a term for it, ERP you were saying?

Atiqah
I think it's erotic roleplay or something? I'm not too sure but you can definitely look it up.

Rafi
And then this also applies for people in marriages, who pick gaming as an escape and this is a realm where infidelity happens... And people feel like it's okay to do it because it's not in real life, you know? That's also a food for thought actually...

Atiqah
For sure. But also, sometimes, like you're forced to conform to societal norms, right? Then this virtual world becomes your way of expressing something that you want to explore but you never had the means to.

5796 chars
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,

Atiqah Khalim - Being a Gamer Girl


Rafi
And so, what motivated you to try out streaming in the first place?

Atiqah
For me, it's really the social aspect because I really enjoy interacting with people. I get bored easily if I play a game all by myself. I was also considering streaming professionally. Facebook was the testing grounds. But then I realize it's a lot of work and that you need the right equipment. I actually bought a microphone to see if it's something I wanted to get into. But now I just have a good microphone and no plans to stream further. I realized it is too much of a hassle. I just ended up streaming casually with my friends on Discord. I'm a female gamer, right? One of the reasons also for picking it up was that I wanted to kind of normalize female gaming, and I thought that as a female hijab donning gamer, streaming was a very obvious way of putting myself out there and attempt to get more females to be interested in gaming.

Rafi
Yeah, and to break the various stigma of female gaming? It was something I made a note of, as one of the things that we could possibly talk about? Do you face any kind of stigma, playing games as a female gamer, whether in your circle of friends or in your family?

Atiqah
I'm thankful and I will say that my family is quite supportive. They've never stigmatized this part of me before and they are actually very okay with it. But I do have friends who sometimes make comments like how I have so many guy friends and only hangs out with guys and things like that. And these are comments from my female friends, and I guess you could consider that as just passing comments. I don't think it's meant as an insult and is just meant as a joke. But I think like when you make these kinds of jokes, it also reflects the kind of beliefs that you hold on to right? You're basically pointing out that gaming is not common [for a female] and why is she doing it... But sometimes people would also react in a pleasantly surprised way when they find out that I am a female gamer and they'd think that it's cool. It's not just bad stigma I suppose. It can also be seen in a positive light even though it's not common. But definitely I would say that even now it's quite obvious that people react to it as if it's not common [for female gamers].

Rafi
And also, even within gaming communities itself... Do people you game with pass off that kind of remarks? Such as this misconception, that being a female gamer, you would definitely bring the team down and things like that? Do you face those kinds of experiences?

Atiqah
From my own experience... I can't use my experience to generalize everything of course. But I do know that there are some guys who assume that a female gamer is not as skilled as a male gamer. But my experience so far has been very positive. I've never experienced that or at least the people I've interacted with don't have that kind of mentality. Rafi Yeah. I guess also you mentioned the fact that a lot of female streamers nowadays and hopefully that has shifted perspectives a bit. And that people are not still fixed with the idea that female gamers should stick to cute games like cooking games... Atiqah But now that you're bringing that up, something just came to mind. Even though there wasn't the experience of feeling like I'm less skilled, there's still some kind of stereotype to what kind of character a female could play. If you play a shooting game, they would assume that since you're a female, you would take the healer or the support. But if you're a male, you would take a tank or like damage role, there is some kind of stereotype for that also.

Rafi
So it's still rooted in some sense to the archaic idea of female roles in society...

Atiqah
Yes, like we're supposed to be the one who's caring, or we heal people who take damage, because we're automatically considered the nurse, which is like a traditionally feminine role.

Rafi
And there's also the fact that, even though female game streamers are increasingly getting more recognized, only a certain typeset of female game streamers are getting that. And these would be streamers who would dress in a certain manner or portray themselves as cute/kawaii or something along those lines...

Atiqah
Yes, definitely. And I think recently there's that term that has surfaces: simp queen. Have you heard of that term?

Rafi
I'm familiar with the urban slang of simping 27 and being a simp... Maybe you could elaborate?

Atiqah
I'm not too familiar with it myself. I just heard about it in passing. But I know that there's this pink haired female streamer, who's name I can't recall, who recently sold her bathwater — like the water she bathed in — on Amazon and people actually bought it. People buy it because they're a simp for her. She's considered a simp queen. I think one of the things that she does is she streams her games and what she's currently playing, but she dresses very provocatively, and she dresses in a way that appeals to like...

Rafi
The male gaze?

Atiqah
Yes, the male gaze. But I think she's representative of one of the popular female streamers that you mentioned. Like the dressing provocatively and all that....

Rafi
But I'm sure at the same time she's very good and skilled at gaming?

Atiqah
I have not seen her stream actually so I can't confirm or deny that.

Rafi
Is this a local streamer?

Atiqah
Oh, yeah. Let me look it up. She's not local. She's called Belle Delphine. Okay, now I'm not even sure if she games or not... She's quite popular because she streams on Twitch perhaps? I'm not so sure..

Rafi
I think you should give it another shot. Your streaming... I think there's a potential for it to dispel the idea that gaming is a 'bro' thing that only guys can do...

Atiqah
And at the same time to go against the typical idea of how a popular female game streamer should look like...

Rafi
Right, diversify the pool of female streamers...

Atiqah
I'm not saying what she's doing is bad per se but it's just what is popular now.

5950 chars
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,

The Super System - Relationship with Gaming


Rafi
[...] thank you for being interested in chatting with me. As you know, I am currently occupying a desk at Hothouse, which is run by the studio Currency and the artist group Inter-Mission. As part of the program, I'll be doing a study into the idea of gaming as a phenomenon in helping us to understand and navigate the social-political realities of living today. A few things that I'm interested to find out about are things like world-building, thinking about gaming platforms as communal spaces, gaming as strategies and methodologies and such. I think in one of the earlier chats that I had with Yue Han, Urich, Melvin and Samantha from Currency and Inter-Mission, they brought up the fact that gaming is not necessarily something that we should think about in terms of just digital games and how gaming actually goes way back... You can think about gaming as board games or even linguistic games. And that got me reminded of this Malay linguistic children's game: where two players take turn to call out a word, and the other player is supposed to offer a responding word which should have its first syllable rhyme with the second (or last) syllable of the previous word. I think it'll be interesting to approach this interview as a loose adaptation of that format. I think I'm going to propose some words and themes that, as we go along, you can also counter-propose something that you think is following a similar thread or line of thought. And to begin with, I think I want to propose for us to talk about gaming as a form of culture. I think it will be a good way to slowly introduce ourselves. I'm interested to know what is your relationship — within our outside of your artistic practice — with games and gaming culture?

Heider
Okay... I mean generally all of us basically have played games for a long time, and I'm not even talking about computer games. I grew up in a generation where computers were slowly becoming a household item. When it began to be a common thing at home. I had my first computer when I was six or seven. And I think it was an old Mac. And there were some pre-installed games on it. From then on, I moved on to a PC and then I started playing military themed games because my brother was really into it, so I just joined in the fun and played along.

Rafi
What are some of these games if you can recall?

Heider
I'm trying to recall those computer games... It's mostly by ‘Jane's’ if I can recall correctly. They made airplane simulation games. It's quite hard to recall most of the titles right now because they're so ancient... Those were the first few games that I played because it was on a MAC... I mean before that, when I was a kid also, we had a few consoles too like the Nintendo where we played stuff like Super Mario Kart and Duck Hunt. We didn't have a Sega because we couldn't afford it so what we had was a Micro Genius, which is basically all the bootleg games inside one cartridge. I suppose it's different from playing games on a PC which has a different experience all together. I still prefer PC games, but console is still fun. With console games, I really enjoyed the process of starting up the game itself. And how sometimes, if it doesn't work you just blow into the cartridge and then somehow it will work. Yeah, it's that whole experience for me...

Rafi
It surely is... I do recall this particular game, I think it was Monster Rancher (1994) which was quite forward thinking for something at that time, where they just introduced the PlayStation One. And in this game, you could actually open up the CD portal and insert any random CDs for you to actually capture a monster and all that... I felt like it was a very holistic experience towards gaming. Do you have any particular early memories of gaming that really struck you?

Heider
When I was 15 years old, I was actually in a Battlefield clan which was called HKT9 and where the members were from Hong Kong. I was part of that clan, but I never met them. I was the only Singaporean and the rest of the members were composed of mainly people from Hong Kong but there was one Dutch guy and possibly an Australian too. And that was when I was 15 to 16 years old and I was playing Battlefield Strike at Karkand. Following that, I've played every Battlefield edition that came out as I was a huge fan. It was really fun, especially when you're playing with a lot of friends or strangers, and it's quite strategic? You can't just rush your way in through the campaigns. You needed to plan and stuffs like that for you to win games.

Rafi
It's interesting, this idea of having a clan and it being this community that transcends geographical boundaries. You make friends and you form communities outside of your locale. I'm also recalling that one of the things that brought up, in our earlier discussions... You were talking about this game when you were trying to counter propose a word... I can't recall exactly what was the title of the game. Perhaps it was Eva or something along that line? And I think you were you were really interested in trying to unravel the unlimited possibilities that the game offered. Maybe then you can share more about the game? Heider Eve Online is an open world game and was actually the first open world game I played. It's a sci-fi game where you travel through like different source systems and play a variety of roles, where you can be a miner or a pirate for example. And how the game works is that like, they made the game environment, and then you have free reign to do whatever you want. There were cities that were created and there were bots. They were the first few users that was created basically by the company to create sort of like a small government. But slowly people started setting up their own supplied governments and then it became its own world and then even the currency can be converted into real world currency. It is a bit insane because they have committees like these from everywhere around the world. There are even like factions, or clans as you call them, that was created by certain countries, so like, there was one clan that is actually from Russia. And it got intense because they would have major battles and stuff. I think a few years ago, there was a major battle that destroyed most of the game's ecosystem, where one huge planet took over half of the universe and galaxy. People actually create their own world where, you know, they created this alternate identity that they've always wanted to have in this virtual world.

Rafi
I think that game is really fascinating. The introduction of open worlds is really fascinating because it opens up endless and limitless potentials in terms of the worlds that you can create.

6720 chars
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,

The Super System - Virtual versus Reality


Rafi
And also, back to this idea of reality. I wanted to chat also about this idea of how maybe gaming shapes your understanding of reality. If you think about first player shooting games, there has been studies about how it has affected society in terms of how people become radicalized through it. Especially so with the recent proliferation of mass shootings globally. But it's somewhat contentious and a contestable ground, because of how, at the same time, there are also studies that denounce the connections between video games and mass shootings...

Heider
I do think it's a very contestable ground. It's very hard to see the data that supports these because of the fact that there isn't much data. I think it is quite dependable also on the culture of respective countries.... But I think talking about reality and how it's affected me in a personal way... I played a lot of Fall Out 4 during the circuit-breaker and it changed my perception of things around me. I look at things differently. ln Fall Out 4, there's a there's a world where you can actually salvage stuff. You can actually make stuffs with things that you salvage. And that particular game play has affected the way I look at things. Now when I look at abandoned bicycles on the streets, I see the huge potential in salvaging it and re-using it? Perhaps also to use some parts of it to create something else? These kinds of game do make a difference? An example also is when it comes to quick reaction games, like Starcraft, where you have to think on your feet and strategize as you go along. I feel like the skills I have developed through gaming gets translated into my real life.

Rafi
Right. Are there any thought lines that you want to propose riffing of from this idea of reality?

Heider
There's one more thing that I wanted to raise since we're talking about reality. And it really is this fascination with the future of warfare. If you think about it, like what I was saying earlier, how pilots used to be in planes, but now pilots are in boxes where they control drones. And these drones basically destroy other drones. It's kind of like playing a game where you are behind the console or behind a medium to actually control something that destroys another inanimate object. In this way, there will be this possibility that there are no life losses along the way. That is how I think gaming or gamification has changed and will change our reality.

Rafi
I do understand what you're getting across. I think that is a very complicated conversation to get into actually... At the same time, I think this anecdote correlates to this floating idea of future nuke wars as well, where nukes are deployed with a single push of a button behind a dashboard, not unlike in a gaming system. And with this, warfare is desensitized from cruelty, issues of morality, and becomes something that is very dehumanized.

Heider
Definitely. There's a recent study on drone pilots that you might find relevant. It's in the latest podcast by Popular Front where they talked about drones, and how drones are increasingly being used in warfare, and if there should be stricter laws about using drones and stuffs like that...

Rafi
It's definitely a difficult terrain to navigate. I feel like at the end of the day, gaming or gaming platforms or mechanisms and technologies that stems from gaming, or is developed from gaming, are neutral? It's a matter of whose hands they fall into and how it's used and deployed. The group of people controlling all these developments and new technology — or the ones that have stakes and power over its distribution and use actually — are the ones that will determine the true potential of what these things can do for us as civilization.

Heider
That's true. It all goes back to us actually....

Rafi
But it's not all stark and gloomy with gaming.... There are also beautiful potentials in gaming and gaming platforms. I think you might have noticed that recently during the lockdown; a lot of people were going back to gaming and particularly Animal Crossing. It's a powerful way of connecting with others, given that everyone was in a situation where they were feeling super isolated. I think it was helpful in alleviating loneliness. I'm also reminded of an article I just came across recently, which spoke about how some people are exploring using gaming as a way to assist former military personnel suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) overcome their traumas.

Heider
I've heard of that too and I think it's quite possible that they're using the game ARMA. ARMA is one of those military games that the US military actually uses for training. I do think that first- person shooting games like these have some potential in helping personnel suffering from war induced PTSD to potentially manage it or get out of it entirely.

Rafi
There is also this community or collective, Bump Galaxy, from the Philippines, that actually are building an open space for collaborative mental health care but hosted in the game Minecraft. It's an online sanctuary where people can actually seek help for their mental health problems and get access to therapy by just being in a server.

Heider
There was a Minecraft festival that I recently went to as well...

Rafi
Club Matryoshka?

Heider
Yes, that was it! There was even an exhibition in the show. It was fun because you could just explore the place as you please. The fact that it's an exhibition and you can attend it in the virtual world that is Minecraft. The possibilities in gaming is limitless and especially so in open world games.

Rafi
And so, there's always two sides to it. There are instances where people are using gaming platforms for the good or to create safe spaces for the society.

Heider
I think that's important especially in a time like this where you can’t even go out. Entering a Minecraft sever is the closest thing to that, and if you need help, it’s great that there are people that can actually be there to talk to you.

5994 chars
Presentation #4
Hotdesk ,

The Super System - Game Engines and Creative Pursuits


Rafi
I think something I wanted to get into more detail with also (considering that this study is being done in the capacity of thinking about art and artists) is the more technical stuffs? Can you share about some of your works that you've done with game engines and how perhaps game engines have helped you in some ways overcome some limitations as a creative and as an artist?

Heider
Working with gaming engines have definitely expanded my skill set. I picked up so many things. With that workflow, I had to learn how to do 3D modelling, and also picked up a bit of coding. You definitely need a strong computer, however. But back then I was lucky, I didn't even know how my 2012 MacBook Pro could actually withstand VR workflows. But if you want to get really good results with high detail, you'd need a really good computer...

Rafi
That's interesting, because I was actually going to say that (and perhaps this might not be a sentiment that everyone would share) using gaming engines as a way to make art opens up channels for art making to be more accessible. In terms of thinking about how, like perhaps with painting, or creating an artwork with actual physical materials, is not accessible for a lot of people because you need to invest a lot of hours of practice to be able to know how to paint or the fact that you would have to invest in buying a lot paint and canvas and a whole slew of other materials. So in that sense, working with gaming engines as a medium could possibly overcome that material limitation and democratize art making. But then again, now I'm thinking of the fact that you brought up, how we do need good computing power to actually be able to use a lot of game engine softwares...

Heider
You would also need to know different technical skills like programming and 3D modeling. You can't really just dive into the gaming engine and then expect to be able to do everything because you need to learn some prerequisites.

Rafi
But for me, at least the beauty of open source is that at least there's a community of people helping each other if you're not familiar with softwares. We have things like Stack Exchange for example. There is that access point that exists for you to begin with.

Heider
Yeah, definitely.

Rafi
And there are also like a lot of tutorials, on YouTube or Udemy, where there are free courses where you can learn to pick up these softwares.

Heider
Everything is so accessible nowadays. If you Google something, you are able to find around ten good sources and 1,000 more lousy ones, that are still useful enough because you can still learn something from it. I think back then it was a bit harder because a lot of people where still new to these softwares. When I started in 2014, these softwares were already at their fourth or fifth version.

Rafi
And even thinking about assets, the ones that you import into your game engines, you can even utilize open source assets that someone else has already created or modelled and you could just reconfigure it to your specific use case. I think that's very helpful in terms of accessibility.

Heider
It definitely is. Especially if you are working on photogrammetry. I do a lot of photogrammetry and have been doing it a lot for the past one year actually. And because I really wanted to bring things from the real world into the virtual world. Photogrammetry is one of the best ways to do that. And there's also that potential of rigging. For example, if you 3D scan a person, you can rig the model and allow for the body parts to move and stuffs. It's quite fun to actually do that, because you get an opportunity to actually bring something into the virtual world. You can even do that with a 3D scan of your friend for example. I've used a bit of that for some of my works where I modelled some antique ornaments. When you're using gaming engines it's slightly different from rendering in 3D modelling softwares which would take up a lot of time. So what gaming engines have done is to reduce the amount of time that's needed to do something for example, the processing that it takes to make a 3D object rotate. I can do that in Unity and export a video really quick. Whereas if I were to do it in Cinema 4D or Maya, it will take maybe like an hour to three hours to actually get it done. That's also another reason why I moved on to unity and do alot of my 3D work in there.

Rafi
Fascinating. I'd like to think that rendering is something you entrust to the computer to do and you could go back to your real job and just leave the process of the rendering running at the back.

Heider
And Unity does rendering in a live rendering mode, so it's much more easier and smoother, but the drawback is that you would need a decent amount of computing power...

4736 chars
Rafi Abdullah
Hide