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The Brainy Gamer: The elusiveness of meaning

Michael Abbott writes:

''My favorite course in grad school combined the Directing students with the Playwriting students to produce short, original 10-minute plays each week. To inspire us, our teacher would often show us a single evocative image - usually a photograph or a painting - and say "Write a play about this." The micro-theater that emerged from these exercises - and the wide range of responses to the same image - were nearly always interesting...and occasionally extraordinary.

I was reminded of this exercise when I heard about a rare appearance by Fumito Ueda (lead designer of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus) at the recent Nordic Game conference. Prior to his presentation, Ueda also spoke to writers from Edge Magazine. His remarks shed light on the vagaries of the creative process and his own intentions as an artist. Regarding the origins of his two most famous games:

Both Ico and SOTC originated as single images in Ueda's mind. For Ico it was a boy leading a girl by the hand; for SOTC it was a tiny figure challenging a giant. The game and narrative are separate extrapolations from this kernel.[1]

Ueda's process begins with an image and grows from that place, informing the way the game plays, how it feels, and what it means. Clearly, Ueda's response to the image of a boy leading a helpless girl by the hand found its way into Ico's themes of selfless devotion and love. The artist communicates his intentions by channeling them through a powerful image. The meaning of the image is conveyed through a beautiful weave of gameplay and narrative.''

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