Playtime, video games mythologies in Switzerland.

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At Maison d’Ailleurs in Yverdon les Bains – Switzerland, a very interesting art exhibition opened its doors last month. It is called Play Time, videogame mythology. The curator is José Luis de Vicente. He is a researcher and writer working around the edges of New Media Arts, Digital creativity, and innovation in Design and Culture. His recent Fields of Interest: Information Visualization, Green Design, Spectrum politics, Media Architecture, Senseable Cities, Software Aesthetics, archeology and histories of Digital Culture, Magic and Technology.

Playtime_MaisonDailleurs

According to the museum, Playtime — Videogame mythologies is an exhibition devoted to the culture of video games. It explores how the relationship between play, the various manners of gam- ing, and technology interrelate. An interactive presentation displays historical documents, examples of GameArt and innovative games.

Playtime_intro

The exhibition invites to explore computer games from a variety of different angles: Rules of Play / The Game of Life and the introduction to the mechanics of games; Game Geographies and PlayNations on the spatial dimension of video games; Bodies and Minds, dealing with emblematic figures, how players relate with their avatars and the involvement of the body in the video game experience; Assault on Reality, which presents innovative creations mixing the real and the virtual; and a historical section Archeology of Fun.

Playtime_GoldFarmers

Throughout 2012, various events, happenings and mediation actions at Yverdon-les-Bains and in French- speaking Switzerland are being held in addition to the exhibition. They highlight the current state of research in the field and bring to a wide audience a chance to discover the broad range of registers in video games art.

Playtime_manettes

The exhibition is part of Pro Helvetia, the Swiss Arts Council’s GameCulture — From Game to Art programme.

This exhibition is not at all a playground. It is by far one of the most interesting exhibitions about the cyberculture. Different themes are presented, from an historical perspective, towards online gaming, cutting edge developments up to artistic visions of video games. The visitor gets a real immersive experience on the best of video gaming.

Playtime_history

It was William Gibson, the king of Science Fiction literature, who invented the idea of “Cyberspace”. He observed that when kids are playing video games, the screen in front of them is not just displaying images. It is an open-door to another world.

For Henry Jenkins, American expert on Media, the art of creating video games has a lot of common points with Lanscaping or creating Entertainment parks. In  a way, video games are the expression of the perfect contemporary aesthetics of a sort of utopia in terms of architecture. A mysterious and exciting experience that can turn to be very addictive.

In terms of cyberspace, different experimental games were presented, some of them reached the limits of reality and imagination. On of the interesting projects is called the SCALABLE CITY. It is a very interesting project by Sheldon Brown from Experimental Game Lab (USA). In a huge screen, we control a sort of vortex made of cars!!! that reshape the landscape based on the will of the player. A very interesting interface helps the player to move the tornado around. Check here the video about the demonstration:

Then, another interesting demonstration was a video game in which a second person controls the player movements, as if the human being was part of the game interface. Really disturbing. Another very nice idea is the one from Ryota Kuwakubo – Japan. The idea is to take a very simple game, here in our case a battle between 2 spaceships, and change one single rule or parameter. The game becomes another one. In our example here, instead of playing the game in a flat screen, the players will need to play the game in a circular screen. So that if you shoot the other spaceship and you miss, then the bullet will come back again, by going around. Here in the video it is José Luis de Vicente himself who explains the idea.

Another interesting topic about video gaming is about the fact that  when we play a game, actually we create our own virtual character, or avatar. We play a role. So the question about identity is very interesting and is probably the most fascinating part of playing a game. There is always a very personal relationship between the player and his avatar. When a player start a game, the carnal and pixelized bodies are connected, that is why we cannot help shouting, jumping around or waving arms. This special relationship between the player and the avatar brings the video game industry to rethink about Joysticks and remote controls.

Playtime_avatar

The online games also allowed players to live situations that they would never be able to live them on real life. With the avatar, you can be who you want to be, a better you?

So the exhibition is from March 11th to the 9th of December 2012 in Yverdon-les-Bains in Switzerland at La Maison d’Ailleurs. You can check the dedicated website for the exhibition here: http://playtime.ailleurs.ch. You can also get more information about La Maison d’Ailleurs on its official website: http://www.ailleurs.ch.

At the end of the exhibition, we can also visit the Jules Verne space, which is a amazing library. There, you can see some well known video games on their historical traditional version.Here a picture of Tetris and Angry birds. Funny.
playtime_tetris
Playtime_angrybirds

So how about a little game then?
LA

 

Info sourced at official vernissage of Playtime at La Maison d’Ailleurs in Yverdon. All images are copyrighted with no reproduction rights available.

 

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