About Steve Borsch

Most of us can see the “X” and “Y” but few can see the “Z” or in between space. Read between the lines. Connect the dots. Build an intuitive understanding of a market, demographic, technology or opportunity. Get the light bulbs of others to pop-on by sparking ideas.

Trying to always see the z-space has been at the heart of my strategic strength and makes up for all of those places where we’re weak—something we all struggle with I’m certain. Though I’m still not sure why, I often sense a trend before I embark on analysis to see if what I’m “smelling” is real or not.

Since 2005 I’ve been the CEO of Marketing Directions, Inc., a trend forecasting, consulting and publishing firm in Minnesota. Prior to that I was Vice President, Strategic Alliances at Lawson Softwarein St. Paul where I was responsible for all partnerships at this major vendor of enterprise resource planning software products and services.

I try to ‘live’ within the z-space and work to gain insight by analyzing and seeing connections.

Today, I’m focusing my efforts on our trend consulting business (specifically the “Connecting the Dots” practice), working with executives and leaders in public and private companies on next generation social media, Internet and Web technologies and solutions (client list confidential). I also speak to business, industry, trade and affinity groups on many aspects of the Internet, Web and social media, its impact, the meaning behind the technology and how to leverage it for value creation.

I’ve spent my career in high technology beginning at the dawn of the personal computer business, extending in to the multimedia and interactive media spaces and culminating in the acceleration of digital communications in the internet arena with firms as diverse as Pioneer New MediaPanasonic Communications & Systems CompanyApple and Vignette.

While at Lawson Software, I began to recognize the acceleration in development of the next phase of the internet (dubbed “Web 2.0″). Knowing that the key way to build an intuitive understanding of the shift in human communications and “cloud” computing underway (i.e., Web applications hosted elsewhere), I opted to jump in by embracing social media technologies through blogging (“Connecting the Dots” blog begun in 2004), podcasting, social networks, and other key directional trends.

Seeing the connections between technological and social trends, my strength in strategy, ideation and communication was, and is, the catalyst driving the Connecting the Dots management consulting practice.

Education and Ongoing Involvements: Business Administration at the University of Minnesota and Finance at DePaul University, is past president of the International Interactive Communications Society and currently involved in numerous internet-centric networks and associations in the Web and social media space. I also follow more than 200 thought leading bloggers and key industry sources — over 2,000 articles each day in order to stay abreast of all developments online. They comprise some of the “dots” I try to connect and I hope you find this blog interesting and worthwhile.

~Steve Borsch

Posted in Art | Leave a comment

Hello Kitty Coffin

Funerals are sad. Hello Kitty is happy. A Hello Kitty-themed funeral must therefore be emotionless.

Read More: http://www.comicsalliance.com/2012/03/02/link-ink-avengers-alliance-intuos5-han-solo-carbonite-crayons/#ixzz1oSyps4is

Posted in Social Media | Leave a comment

Saddest Gaming Room Ever

I don’t even know where to start. The cheap frozen TV dinner, the milk crate, the dirty towel, the VCR…Luigi’s Mansion. I think I had a better gaming setup than this when I was 4. At least the guy who owns this setup is loyal. The picture of Satoru Iwata on the wall lets us all know that he’s a Nintendo fanboy, and he’s not ashamed to admit it. Good for him. Or her…?

Source: http://www.geekstir.com/saddest-gaming-room-ever

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

Twitter becomes hot topic for drivers at PIR

witter becomes hot topic for drivers at PIR

Keselowski’s first in-race tweet has others wondering if it opens ‘Pandora’s Box’

By Jarrod Breeze, NASCAR.COM
March 03, 2012 4:22 PM, EST

“Right front tire went down. We will have to go to a backup. Hopefully be ready for qual,” McDowell tweeted to his Twitter account at 3:36 p.m. ET Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, shortly after hitting the frontstretch wall in the first practice session in preparation for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race.

Twitter Handles

Sprint Cup Series
Driver Twitter
AJ Allmendinger @AJDinger
Marcos Ambrose @MarcosAmbrose
Trevor Bayne @Tbayne21
Greg Biffle @gbiffle
Jeff Burton @RCR31JeffBurton
Kurt Busch @KurtBusch
Kyle Busch @Kyle Busch
Landon Cassill @landoncassill
David Gilliland @DGilliland2010
Jeff Gordon @JeffGordonWeb
Robby Gordon @RobbyGordon
Denny Hamlin @dennyhamlin
Kevin Harvick @KevinHarvick
Jimmie Johnson @JimmieJohnson
Kasey Kahne @kaseykahne
Matt Kenseth @mattkenseth
Brad Keselowski @keselowski
Bobby Labonte @Bobby_Labonte
Joey Logano @Jlogano
Mark Martin @55MarkMartin
M. McDowell @Mc_Driver
Jamie McMurray @jamiemcmurray
Casey Mears @CJMearsGang
Juan Montoya @jpmontoya
Joe Nemechek @FrontRowJoe87
Ryan Newman @RyanNewman39
Danica Patrick @DanicaPatrick
David Ragan @David_Ragan
David Reutimann @DavidReutimann
Regan Smith @Regan_Smith_
Martin Truex Jr. @MartinTruexJr56
Michael Waltrip @mw55
J.J. Yeley @jjyeley1

Just how many other drivers follow Keselowski’s lead in the real-time world of Twitter remains to be seen. But given Keselowski’s propensity in the realm of social media, the 28-year-old driver already has established himself as a trend-setter, even if his fingers have to do all the talking.

Keselowski added to an already historic night-time Daytona 500 when he was the first to post photos of Juan Montoya’s fiery crash into the back of a jet dryer on his Twitter account from his cell phone that he had with him inside the car. Just when you thought you had seen everything in NASCAR, Keselowski showed something completely new.

After the initial shock of Montoya’s crash subsided, all — drivers included — were equally stunned by the notion of Keselowski racing with his cell phone in tow.

“My generation is obsessed with technology and access,” said Keselowski, who has gained 160,000 followers since his famous tweet. “And you know to me, the things that I did on Twitter that night was something that I would want to see.

“I think at the end of the day, I’m just trying to show people what I would want to see if I was in their shoes.”

NASCAR responded in kind, announcing Keselowski would not be penalized for his actions during the more than two-hour delay. “We encourage our drivers to use social media to express themselves as long as they do so without risking their safety or that of others.”

And while most drivers were amused and/or pleased with Keselowski’s fan-friendly connection, don’t expect many of his more-seasoned compadres to take up the practice. In fact, many expressed a concern of what this “Pandora’s Box,” as referenced by Keselowski, might lead to in the future.

“I think the social media aspect of it, I thought was great for the sport; I think that it’s awesome that NASCAR is really being that lenient,” said a cautious Jeff Gordon, before adding: “I think that the technology of phones these days is growing rapidly that there could be some things that NASCAR might need to pay attention to that might need to keep the phones out of the car.”

For most, that won’t be a problem. Even for media savvy Carl Edwards.

“No, I am not going to jump on board the Twitter train but I think that anything that gets the fans excited is good,” Edwards said. “I didn’t realize we could have our phones in the car but honestly I won’t be taking my phone in the car during the race. I will just say that. If it gets the fans excited, if it is something they enjoy, then I think the more power to the guys that are doing it. I think that is cool.”

A key issue with toting a cell phone is NASCAR’s rule prohibiting drivers from having communications with other drivers while in the car. Kyle Busch expressed a voice of reason, however.

“I don’t think there’s any merit there. You can’t hold it and record or anything like that,” Busch explained. “I don’t think they [Keselowski] were doing anything that was out of the norm.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. echoed a similar sentiment. “I was surprised that he [Keselowski] would carry a phone in the car because you really can’t use it. It didn’t harm anybody, didn’t bother anybody, so I don’t see any problem with it.”

Kevin Harvick joked he might find a useful, and advantageous way, of using his cell phone.

“I’m going to look for every app I can for mile-per-hour, GPS mapping, and anything I can find to put in my car. … I have found a mile-per-hour app, so that’ll be good down pit road,” he said to a room full of laughter.

You might see Daytona 500 champion Matt Kenseth — whose victory in some aspects was almost an afterthought when he brought the race to a conclusion in the wee hours of Tuesday morning — on Twitter … in his off hours.

“I think there’s got to be a line where I don’t do it or it doesn’t take any focus off of the racing,” Kenseth said. “I think during the week or on Saturday night if you’re sitting in your motorhome not doing anything, I think there’s a lot of good times, for me … and I can interact with [fans] or tweet something that’s funny or cool that I saw.

“Everybody’s different, but for me, like in between practices and even during the race, you probably won’t see me doing that.”

Denny Hamlin left the subject for indefinite debate.

“Where does it end? What do you do?” he left for all to ponder.

Harvick offered a solution.

“I’m looking to outlaw this rule as fast as I can because I don’t want to have to keep up with it,” he said.


Posted in Social Media | Leave a comment

Introduction to Sony PSN Home beta testing.

Sony begins accepting PlayStation Home beta applications

By   posted July 31st 2008 4:51AM

After a long long delay from that March 2007 announcement, Sony Japan just opened its doors to applications for the closed beta testing of PlayStation Home. Sony expects to drop 10,000 gamers (18 years old and up) into the virtual world when it launches in beta sometime in late August. Closed beta tests are due in other markets (er hem, the US) at about the same time with an open beta coming sometime later in the year. Lucky beta testers will be able to explore the 3D world and play games like PacMan in the Namco Museum, both of which are pictured after the break.

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

‘Home’ the virtual space by Sony PSN is a priority, not anymore.

I found the following email here:  http://kotaku.com/5393859/but-playstation-home-is-a-priority-now-says-scea-exec

Email:

Hi Stephen,

Thanks so much for following up on this. You guys & gals at Kotaku are great for exactly this reason.

I can assure you that Home is absolutely a priority for the PlayStation 3, PSN, and SCEA. As the Kotaku team have covered in depth, there continues to be massive and rapid growth of Home across the board.

It hasn’t even been a year since we launched, and already we have over 50 public and private spaces to visit, over 1000 rewards and virtual items, and have hosted more than 200 events and parties in SCEA alone. We’ve had friendships founded, marriages performed, disabilities overcome, community rallies for important causes like Breast Cancer Awareness and 911 remembrance; as well as the less serious moments like Horror Bowling tournaments, epic battles between Hamsters and Humans, zombie revolutions, and tons of celebrity and developer appearances. Literally thousands of important and memorable personal events occur in Home every day, making this a platform an important milestone in the evolution of gaming, and unlike anything else the world has ever seen.

To illustrate how fast we are growing, in the last month, we’ve launched spaces for Uncharted 2, Ratchet and Clank, Street Fighter 4, Motorstorm Tekken, Pixel Junk, the Neptune’s Suite, an updated Central Plaza, as well as the 1.3 client, making universal game launching a reality. Needless to say, the SCEA Home team is made up of a very passionate group of developers and community managers, and we never rest. Home’s growth and success is a huge priority for us from a business standpoint, a platform standpoint, a community standpoint, as well as a personal standpoint. Everyone on the team is a heavy user of Home, and we love and use it ourselves nearly every day!

Oh, and tonight, be sure to check out our huge “Undead Yourself” party, as there will be a massive zombie revolution in Home that you won’t want to miss! Check it out here:www.undeadyourself.com

Stephen, thank you again for following up on this and giving us a chance to set the record straight. It really illustrates the quality of Kotaku reporting, and is the reason why I personally read your site every day. Oh, and I love the Kotaku talk radio podcast as well. Keep it up!

Best,

Jack & the SCEA Home team

Posted in Gaming | Leave a comment

Steve Jobs on Privacy

Posted in Social Media, Video | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Ten Reasons Why LifeIn Skyrim Will be Better Thank Real Life

This is what a girl looks like when she is interested in what you have to say.

1. GIRLS TALK TO YOU

Talking to girls in real life is hard. Even if you manage to muster the courage to approach one, she just stares at you vacantly as your brain fumbles for the words to win her heart. Sound familiar? In Skyrim, girls still stare at you vacantly, but all the words you can say are predetermined, removing a great deal of social pressure. Plus, you get to talk about elves and crap like that, which a real-life girl would never subject herself to.

With the help of groundbreaking Stonemorph Topographic Modeling and Sedimentary Geo-Texturing, the Skyrim development team has been able to create a vast and stunning array of lifelike rocks.

2. THE ROCKS ARE PRETTIER

Have you ever looked at rocks in the real world, only to find them just a bunch of boring, ordinary rocks? Not so in Skyrim! Every rock that you see in Skyrim has been lovingly hand-crafted by an experienced game developer using highly-sophisticated 3D imaging technology to ensure that the rocks in the game are even more rock-like than real rocks. “If you think the rocks are awesome, you should talk to our Senior Topsoil Designer,” said Skyrim‘s Lead Rock Designer.

A dragon, seen here making life in Skyrim a treat.

3. DRAGONS!

Do you feel like you constantly have to convince others around you (friends, family, the old guy at the comic book shop) of the existence of things that everyone keeps telling you don’t exist? But you know in your heart — deep down — that they do? Things like high-quality young-adult vampire fiction? Excellent nu-metal bands? Japanese animated television series with riveting, easy-to-follow storylines? If you are this type of person, then you may also believe that dragons could maybe, possibly, theoretically exist. You probably also believe in ghosts and mutants. If so, Skyrimwill be a treat.

A skeleton monster with glowing blue eyes would not look this good in real life.

4. REALISTIC SHADOWS

Next time you enter a well-lit or semi-lit room, take a look around. Do the shadows look unrealistic? They probably do. And yet, we must accept these unrealistic shadows as part of our everyday existence. The creators of Skyrim, however, were not content to settle for ordinary, unrealistic shadows. Using Sunbeam Verisimilitude lighting technology and a proprietary Incandescent Luminous physics engine, Skyrim‘s developers were able to achieve the most realistic shadows ever seen in a video game, including some new kinds of shadows that only exist in the world of Skyrim.

Skyrim offers plenty of walking, all of it free of actual physical exertion.

5. ZERO-EFFORT CARDIO

Do you get out of breath when you walk up a flight of stairs? How about when you clamber out of your car? Kiss those problems goodbye in Skyrim. You can traverse the game’s rolling landscapes without having to set foot inside a gym. Skyrimcontains over 68,000 square miles of painstakingly-constructed terrain to explore, all of which combined is roughly the size of Oklahoma. Have you ever wanted to jog from Kansas to Texas? And while carrying a shield? Now you can.

Here is a player getting ready to increase his stamina before going out for the evening in Skyrim.

6. EXPERIMENTATION IS ENCOURAGED

We’ve been told time and time again about the chemicals in this world that will make us see things, jump off a tall building, or sleep with someone who is extremely unattractive. They might even cause an instantaneous heart attack, dementia, or worse. Fortunately, the strange and often powerful substances in Skyrim aren’t off-limits. In fact, you are encouraged to mix these arcane materials to create spell reagents and other magical potion junk. It’s like being back in college.

Swimming isn’t just liberating in Skyrim, it’s also incredibly realistic thanks to the game’s Dynamic Viscosity Rendering engine.

7. NO BODY IMAGE ISSUES

You know that one guy in the locker room who always walks around buck naked in flip-flops? We hate that guy, because he’s weird, but we also kind of envy that guy. He’s walking around naked in flip-flops, like a boss, and we can’t even take our shirt off at the beach without feeling dumb. Fortunately, you can go swimming in Skyrimwithout worrying about any undue physical scrutiny. Except maybe from a passing Frost Troll. But those guys have other concerns. Have you ever seen the man-boobs on a Frost Troll?

Hunt for game to restore health or simply to create a delicious meal. As of this writing, it is unknown if deer meat will be utilized to make snickerdoodles.

8. EAT ANYTHING, EVERYTHING

It’s hard to say “no” when corn chips are lying around. It’s like the entire bag was just begging to be eaten! And afterwards, the resulting shame and regret causes most of us to swear off corn chips forever. That is, until the next bag of corn chips presents itself, prompting the cycle to begin anew. In Skyrim, you can eat a crazy amount of stuff, and as a bonus, you will not gain any weight. Eat fish, meat, bread and bugs to your heart’s content. Granted, Skyrim does not reportedly contain any snickerdoodles, but we’re pretty sure there’s a snickerdoodles mod in the works.

Without having to crack a book or watch a boring online tutorial, you’ll soon be on your way to casting Fireballs and Lightning Bolts. And yet, you will never learn how to play guitar in Skyrim. That’s just how hard it is.

9. NO PRACTICE REQUIRED

It is often said that anything worth doing requires both hard work and the willingness to fail. For example, in real life, if you want to learn how to play guitar, you actually have to sit down and play the guitar over and over again until you learn how it’s done. This is often boring and not fun, and generally prevents you from achieving that which you wanted in the first place, which is to know how to play freaking guitar. In Skyrim, your talents are available to you at the push of a button, and don’t require the annoying investment of time and patience. Not to mention that they are badass.

This tiger-person is ready to meet the anthropomorphic vixen of his dreams.

10. FURRIES WELCOME

Look, we’re not saying that there’s anything wrong with being into anthropomorphic animal-creatures. Some people are way into feet, so who are we to judge? The difference, however, between anthropomorphic animal-creatures and feet is that feet ARE THINGS IN REAL LIFE. You can’t go out to a bar on Friday night and meet a friendly and/or attractive member of the opposite sex who also happens to be a tiger-person. You can, however, do this in Skyrim. Heck, you can even BE the friendly and/or attractive tiger-person. How about that for wish-fulfillment, basement dweller?

Posted in Skyrim | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Writing is on the Wall For the Writing on Video Game Walls

By Gus Mastrapa in Pretension +1
Friday, May 6, 2011 at 9:00 am
the-cake-is-a-lie.png

Play enough video games and certain tropes start to stand out. Back in 2009 I griped about “The Girl In Your Ear” — the ubiquitous female video game character that helps push the story along by urgently delivering plot points via radio. After finishing Portal 2 I’d like to grouse about another video game cliche — graffiti. I’m not talking about the kind of stuff you find spray-painted on the concrete in Skate. I’m not yet tired of urban art sneaking into games.

Rather, I’m bummed about the way that game makers rely on cryptic messages scrawled in blood, revolutionary slogans etched on prison walls and quirky-world building jokes penciled in apocalyptic safe-rooms. Almost everybody agrees that using the environment to tell the story is better than a half-hour cut scene. But enough is enough, game makers. Put away the pens and come up with some new ideas.

I’ll forgive Portal 2 because it uses such graffiti sparingly. In the early moments of the game players crawl through the ruins of the original Aperture test chambers. And there they see a series of portraits that seem to elevate the game’s protagonist, Chell, to the level of goddess. I’m not up on the game’s backstory, but I figure these cave drawings were from the same guy who scrawled “The cake is a lie” in the hidden parts of the test chambers of the original Portal.

portal2 paintings.jpg
My big issue with this kind of environmental storytelling is that it is usually leveraged to one end — to creep you out. I can’t tell you how many games I’ve played where some madman has written a creepy line or two on the wall. I hardly register that stuff any more. Its a kind of short hand that has zero emotional impact for me any more.
I have a similar problem with horror movies. If there’s a serial killer on the loose detectives will inevitably stumble upon his or her lair and discover a wall covered with cut-out newspaper clippings lit. This candle-lite shrine will always be in honor of the same person or incident. And everybody who finds it will immediately be creeped out. Only an insane person would take the time to cut out this may pictures of the same person. Looks like we have our killer!
Portal 2 gets a pass because later in the game it explores interesting, new ways to inject story into the game world. The best example comes up in the retro portion of the game, where we see a trophy case full of Aperture’s second-place awards. The company has always been second-best to Black Mesa — that’s interesting.
silent-hill-2.jpeg
Games are really good at repeating the story, “Something Bad Happened Here.” Blood is easy to spatter. Body parts are cheap. They can be strewed everywhere. And crazy is easy to communicate. You just write it on the wall. I’m on to you game designers and I’m calling you out. It’s time to change things up. The next time I’m in a game where there’s a killer on the loose put me in a room with pristine paint. I’ll go crazy expecting to read something in the next hallway. Then you can pull the rug out from under me and hit me with something really unexpected.
Pretension +1 is a weekly column by Gus Mastrapa that aims to catalog, illuminate and mock each and every video game cliche.
Posted in Gaming | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Video games can never be art

Video games can never be art

By Roger Ebert on April 16, 2010 9:50 PM

videogame.jpgHaving once made the statement above, I have declined all opportunities to enlarge upon it or defend it. That seemed to be a fool’s errand, especially given the volume of messages I receive urging me to play this game or that and recant the error of my ways. Nevertheless, I remain convinced that in principle, video games cannot be art. Perhaps it is foolish of me to say “never,” because never, as Rick Wakeman informs us, is a long, long time. Let me just say that no video gamer now living will survive long enough to experience the medium as an art form.

What stirs me to return to the subject? I was urged by a reader, Mark Johns, to consider a video of a TED talk given at USC by Kellee Santiago, a designer and producer of video games. I did so. I warmed to Santiago immediately. She is bright, confident, persuasive. But she is mistaken.
I propose to take an unfair advantage. She spoke extemporaneously. I have the luxury of responding after consideration. If you want to follow along, I urge you to watch her talk, which is embedded below. It’s only 15 minutes long, and she makes the time pass quickly.
cave_painting_l.jpg
She begins by saying video games “already ARE art.” Yet she concedes that I was correct when I wrote, “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.” To which I could have added painters, composers, and so on, but my point is clear.

Then she shows a slide of a prehistoric cave painting, calling it “kind of chicken scratches on walls,” and contrasts it with Michelangelo’s ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Her point is that while video games may be closer to the chicken scratch end of the spectrum, I am foolish to assume they will not evolve.

She then says speech began as a form of warning, and writing as a form of bookkeeping, but they evolved into storytelling and song. Actually, speech probably evolved into a form of storytelling and song long before writing was developed. And cave paintings were a form of storytelling, perhaps of religion, and certainly of the creation of beauty from those chicken-scratches Werner Herzog is even now filming in 3-D.
cavePainting1.jpg
Herzog believes, in fact, that the paintings on the wall of the Cave of Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc in Southern France should only be looked at in the context of the shadows cast on those dark walls by the fires built behindthe artists, which suggests the cave paintings, their materials of charcoal and ochre and all that went into them were the fruition of a long gestation, not the beginning of something–and that the artists were enormously gifted. They were great artists at that time, geniuses with nothing to build on, and were not in the process of becoming Michelangelo or anyone else. Any gifted artist will tell you how much he admires the “line” of those prehistoric drawers in the dark, and with what economy and wit they evoked the animals they lived among.

Santiago concedes that chess, football, baseball and even mah jong cannot be art, however elegant their rules. I agree. But of course that depends on the definition of art. She says the most articulate definition of art she’s found is the one in Wikipedia: “Art is the process of deliberately arranging elements in a way that appeals to the senses or emotions.” This is an intriguing definition, although as a chess player I might argue that my game fits the definition.
lascaux.jpg
Plato, via Aristotle, believed art should be defined as the imitation of nature. Seneca and Cicero essentially agreed. Wikipedia believes “Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more concerned with the expression of ideas…Key components of games are goals, rules, challenge, and interaction.”

But we could play all day with definitions, and find exceptions to every one. For example, I tend to think of art as usually the creation of one artist. Yet a cathedral is the work of many, and is it not art? One could think of it as countless individual works of art unified by a common purpose. Is not a tribal dance an artwork, yet the collaboration of a community? Yes, but it reflects the work of individual choreographers. Everybody didn’t start dancing all at once.
cave_painting_bison.jpg
One obvious difference between art and games is that you can win a game. It has rules, points, objectives, and an outcome. Santiago might cite a immersive game without points or rules, but I would say then it ceases to be a game and becomes a representation of a story, a novel, a play, dance, a film. Those are things you cannot win; you can only experience them.

She quotes Robert McKee’s definition of good writing as “being motivated by a desire to touch the audience.” This is not a useful definition, because a great deal of bad writing is also motivated by the same desire. I might argue that the novels of Cormac McCarthy are so motivated, and Nicholas Sparks would argue that his novels are so motivated. But when I say McCarthy is “better” than Sparks and that his novels are artworks, that is a subjective judgment, made on the basis of my taste (which I would argue is better than the taste of anyone who prefers Sparks).
wacoSTILL1.jpg
Santiago now phrases this in her terms: “Art is a way of communicating ideas to an audience in a way that the audience finds engaging.” Yet what ideas are contained in Stravinsky, Picasso, “Night of the Hunter,” “Persona,” “Waiting for Godot,” “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock?” Oh, you can perform an exegesis or a paraphrase, but then you are creating your own art object from the materials at hand.

Kellee Santiago has arrived at this point lacking a convincing definition of art. But is Plato’s any better? Does art grow better the more it imitates nature? My notion is that it grows better the more it improves or alters nature through an passage through what we might call the artist’s soul, or vision. Countless artists have drawn countless nudes. They are all working from nature. Some of there paintings are masterpieces, most are very bad indeed. How do we tell the difference? We know. It is a matter, yes, of taste.
WACO_STILL2.jpg
Santiago now supplies samples of a video game named “Waco Resurrection” (above), in which the player, as David Koresh, defends his Branch Davidian compound against FBI agents. The graphics show the protagonist exchanging gunfire with agents according to the rules of the game. Although the player must don a Koresh mask and inspire his followers to play, the game looks from her samples like one more brainless shooting-gallery.

“Waco Resurrection” may indeed be a great game, but as potential art it still hasn’t reached the level of chicken scratches, She defends the game not as a record of what happened at Waco, but “as how we feel happened in our culture and society.” Having seen the 1997 documentary “Waco: The Rules of Engagement,” I would in contrast award the game a Fail in this category. The documentary made an enormous appeal to my senses and emotions, although I am not proposing it as art.
braid.jpg
Her next example is a game named “Braid” (above). This is a game “that explores our own relationship with our past…you encounter enemies and collect puzzle pieces, but there’s one key difference…you can’t die.” You can go back in time and correct your mistakes. In chess, this is known as taking back a move, and negates the whole discipline of the game. Nor am I persuaded that I can learn about my own past by taking back my mistakes in a video game. She also admires a story told between the games levels, which exhibits prose on the level of a wordy fortune cookie.
Level-1-Stills-0026.jpg
We come to Example 3, “Flower” (above). A run-down city apartment has a single flower on the sill, which leads the player into a natural landscape. The game is “about trying to find a balance between elements of urban and the natural.” Nothing she shows from this game seemed of more than decorative interest on the level of a greeting card. Is the game scored? She doesn’t say. Do you win if you’re the first to find the balance between the urban and the natural? Can you control the flower? Does the game know what the ideal balance is?

These three are just a small selection of games, she says, “that crossed that boundary into artistic expression.” IMHO, that boundary remains resolutely uncrossed. “Braid” has had a “great market impact,” she says, and “was the top-downloaded game on XBox Live Arcade.” All of these games have received “critical acclaim.”
59666-050-05A1393B.jpg
Now she shows stills from early silent films such as George Melies’ “A Voyage to the Moon” (1902), which were “equally simplistic.” Obviously, I’m hopelessly handicapped because of my love of cinema, but Melies seems to me vastly more advanced than her three modern video games. He has limited technical resources, but superior artistry and imagination.

These days, she says, “grown-up gamers” hope for games that reach higher levels of “joy, or of ecstasy….catharsis.” These games (which she believes are already being made) “are being rewarded by audiences by high sales figures.” The only way I could experience joy or ecstasy from her games would be through profit participation.

The three games she chooses as examples do not raise my hopes for a video game that will deserve my attention long enough to play it. They are, I regret to say, pathetic. I repeat: “No one in or out of the field has ever been able to cite a game worthy of comparison with the great poets, filmmakers, novelists and poets.”
bobby-fischer-en-1971.jpg
Why are gamers so intensely concerned, anyway, that games be defined as art? Bobby Fischer, Michael Jordan and Dick Butkus never said they thought their games were an art form. Nor did Shi Hua Chen, winner of the $500,000 World Series of Mah Jong in 2009. Why aren’t gamers content to play their games and simply enjoy themselves? They have my blessing, not that they care.

Do they require validation? In defending their gaming against parents, spouses, children, partners, co-workers or other critics, do they want to be able to look up from the screen and explain, “I’m studying a great form of art?” Then let them say it, if it makes them happy.

I allow Sangtiago the last word. Toward the end of her presentation, she shows a visual with six circles, which represent, I gather, the components now forming for her brave new world of video games as art. The circles are labeled: Development, Finance, Publishing, Marketing, Education, and Executive Management. I rest my case.

 

Melies’ “Le voyage dans la lune (1902).” I recommend muting the sound track.

Posted in Art, Gaming | Leave a comment