E2014 [Interactive Entertainment] Conference 2014 at UoN
From the IE2014 website:
`About IE2014 – Fun and Games
Interactive Entertainment is Australasia’s longest running games and digital entertainment conference.
IE2014 marks the 10th anniversary of the conference which is hosted this year by the University of Newcastle, Australia.
The keynote address will be given by Stephen Barrass at 9:30am on Tuesday 2nd December on the topic of “Interactive Sound and Smart Things”.
IE2014 welcomes scientists, designers, artists, technicians, students, industry and academics from across the spectrum. We encourage contributions from fields as diverse as computer science, social science, design, communication, media studies, music, engineering, health and mathematics. Anyone interested in the myriad of technologies and issues that impact on interactive entertainment and computer games are encouraged to come along and share their discipline’s perspective on “Fun and Games”.
All papers are peer reviewed and will be published in the conference proceedings.’
(IE2014 website, 2014)
And I suppose, just as an update, (call it, a patch) I should point out that – to paraphrase the above last sentence in the past tense:
`All papers [were] peer reviewed and [were] published in the conference proceedings.’
And in fact, what blew me away the most, was: The Conference Proceedings were already published, and handed to us on a USB-stick, shaped like a piece of Lego(TM), before the conference even started… (!)
I’ve been to a few conferences before, but, this was the first time, that has ever happened (well, to me, personally) and I thought it was all rather amazing, and also a testament to how well-organized the entire ACM IE2014 Conference was. (I could say more, but I’d probably just get all emotional. In short, it was: timelessly beautiful. Almost like, The Golden Spiral, or The Fibonacci Sequence, or something.)
On top of that, we also got other cool stuff in the conference showbags. e.g. stuff like, this –
i.e. A BeachBoy [as in: GameBoy] towel (which also reminds me a lot of the `surfing’ game level in the classic retro game hit, California Games 1987). I also used to lecture on Videogames History, so I love all that retro-games stuff.
And just sticking with the `surfing’ theme for a moment, the image on the towel also reminds me of, a surf thriller-horror-psychodrama movie that I worked on as a screenwriter, Caught Inside (2011), which is, sort of like Chopper meets Dead Calm via Cape Fear (…if you like that sort of thing).
i.e. Kind of: Scary meets Funny meets Violent meets Edgy meets Surf’s Up. (ie NOT a particularly good `date movie’. Sort of, the opposite of, a Rom-Com.)
(Caught Inside won the Audience Award at the 2010 Sydney International Film Festival)
And – all this also reminds me how associations – and, memories – are triggered as memeplexes, but I digress. As you can see from the below, we also got a rubber duck, and which also reminds me of that Gary Larsen Far Side cartoon, about Professor Liebowitz.
Anyway so, the showbags were several kinds of awesome.
And we also even got to choose our own name-badge image/icon/avatar. This was mine:
And, the Conference Theme this year (the 10th year) was “Fun and Games”.
The Conference Chair, Dr Keith Nesbitt opened the proceedings with suitable aplomb:
Then Assoc. Prof. Stephen Barrass from the University of Canberra, fresh off the boat (Steve had just been on a yacht trip) regaled us all with his very entertaining keynote address, on Interactive Sound and Music – namely “Zip, Bop, Whirr, Making Things That Sound Fun” :In his keynote, Steve also mentioned sound in `outdoor augmented reality games’, and, the music composer Carl Stalling’s work on Looney Tunes, Merrie Melodies and Silly Symphonies – all of which, reminded me of the AR games and also the Looney Tunes game I worked on as Senior Game Designer, and Game Writer, way back in 2005:
Then, after Steve’s very inspiring keynote, we all relocated to the Presentation Room, where – first up, Dr Stefan Greuter of RMIT presented a fascinating paper called `SpaceWalk: Movement and Interaction in Virtual Space with Commodity Hardware’, by Stefan Greuter and David J Roberts:
There was also a demo of the Haptic Feedback Glove, from: `An Intuitive Tangible Game Controller’ by Jacques Foottit, Dave Brown, Stefan Marks and Andy Connor:
The Haptic Feedback Glove (by Jacques Foottit, Dave Brown, Stefan Marks and Andy Connor) [footage by Maria]
In my view, all of the IE2014 papers were terrific – for one reason or another, and sometimes many reasons – and so, the IE2014 committee is to be congratulated. The full academic papers are available online, in the IE2014 Conference Proceedings, and below is a list of all of the papers taken from the Program.
IE2014 Long Papers [10 minute presentations] :
1. SpaceWalk: Movement and Interaction in Virtual Space with Commodity Hardware
by Stefan Greuter and David J Roberts.
2. E is for Everyone? Best Practices for the Socially Inclusive Design of Avatar Creation Interfaces
by Victoria Mcarthur and Jennifer Jenson.
3. Measuring Learning in Video Games: A Case Study
by Allan Fowler, Brian Cusack and Alessandro Canossa.
4. An Intuitive Tangible Game Controller
by Jacques Foottit, Dave Brown, Stefan Marks and Andy Connor.
5. Comparing Order of Control for Tilt and Touch Games
by Robert Teather and Scott MacKenzie.
6. Playful Game Jams: Guidelines for Designed Outcomes
William Goddard, Richard Byrne and Floyd Mueller.
7. Inferring Player Experiences Using Facial Expressions Analysis
by Chek Tien Tan, Sander Bakkes and Yusuf Pisan.
8. A Systematic Review of Cybersickness
by Simon Davis, Keith Nesbitt and Eugene Nalivaiko.
9. The Mystery of Elin
by Maria Guadalupe Alvarez Diaz, Marcus Toftedahl and Torbjörn Svensson.
10. Generating Funny Dialogue between Robots based on Japanese Traditional Comedy Entertainment
by Ryo Mashimo, Tomohiro Umetani, Tatsuya Kitamura and Akiyo Nadamoto.
11. Intelligent and Empathic Agents to Support Student Learning in Virtual Worlds
by Ryan Villarica and Deborah Richards.
12. The Publishing Game: An Analysis of ‘Game’ Related Academic Publishing Patterns
by Xin Gu and Karen Blackmore.
13. The Dawn of the Dark Ride at the Amusement Park
by Joel Zika.
14. Reusing Simulated Evacuation Behaviour in a Game Engine
by Mingze Xi and Shamus P. Smith.
15. One Person’s Culture is Another One’s Entertainment
by Cat Kutay.
16. Video Game Control Dimensionality Analysis
by Moyen Mohammad Mustaquim and Tobias Nyström.
17. Putting a New Intelligent Virtual Face on a Medical Treatment Advice System to Improve Adherence
by Deborah Richards, Scott Baker and Patrina Caldwell.
18. Software Development in the City Evolutions Project
by Lei Tan, Ross Bille, Yuqing Lin, Stephan Chalup and Chris Tucker.
19. Urban Codes // Parallel Worlds
by Troy Innocent and Indae Hwang.
20. Game Asset Repetition
by Stefan Greuter and Adam Nash.
21. Perspective Shifting: Humour and Comedy in Games
by Geoffrey Hookham and Michael Meany.
22. Extending Building Information Models into Game Engines
by Ross Bille, Shamus Smith, Kim Maund and Graham Brewer.
23. Flow Theory, Evolution & Creativity: or, ‘Fun & Games’
by JT Velikovsky.
(This one, above, was my own paper at the conference, and, I have bolded it up – for no good reason, other than: it was mine. But now, it’s `out there in the field’, let’s see if it `survives, and maybe even replicates’, like a good meme. i.e. Let’s even call it, an exercise in Evolutionary Epistemology, or, the DPFi systems model of creativity, which, my paper contends, uses the same evolutionary algorithm. – It’s all fractal, really.)
And – still more of the (excellent) papers from the IE2014 proceedings:
24. A Scouting Strategy for Real-Time Strategy Games
by Chen Si, Yusuf Pisan and Chek Tien Tan.
25. Comparing Animation with Video for Teaching Communication Skills
by Hayley Croft, Keith Nesbitt, Rohan Rasiah and Joyce Cooper.
26. Towards Quantifying Player’s Involvement in 3D Games Based-on Player Types
by Nader Hanna, Deborah Richards, Michael Hitchens and Michael Jacobson.
27. Introducing a Revised Lexical Approach to Study User Experience in Game Play by Analyzing Online Reviews
by Miaoqi Zhu and Xiaowen Fang.
IE2014 Short Papers :
28. Overview of the MySteps ICT Framework
by Reem Altimimi, Geoff Skinner and Keith Nesbitt.
29. Multimodality or Ludo-narrative Dissonance: Duality of Presentation in Fringe Media
by Daniel Dunne.
30. Multimodality and the Competitive Metagame: Exploring Issues of Balance in Multimodal Game Environments
by Ben Egliston.
31. Social Play Spaces for Active Community Engagement
by Jenna Gavin, Ben Kenobi and Andy Connor.
32. DIGICON – It’s not Digital but it is Confronting
by Elyssebeth Leigh and Deanna Hutchinson.
33. Augmented Body: Changing Interactive Body Play
by Matthew Martin, James Charlton and Andy Connor.
34. Music to Middleware: The Growing Challenges of the Game Music Composer
by Nathan Scott.
35. Exergaming in the Car: Preliminary Results of an Experimental Setup.
by Sven Krome, Steffen P. Walz, Stefan Greute, Ansgar Gerlicher and Markus Schleehauf.
36. Exploring Game Ideas for Stresslessness in the Automotive Domain
by Sven Krome, Steffen P. Walz, Stefan Greuter, Jussi Holopainen, Ansgar Gerlicher and Markus Schleehauf.
Demos @ IE2014 :
37. Protocol E: An Implementation of a Novel, Agent Based, Control Scheme for Real Time Strategy Games
by Matt Cabanag.
And – below are a selection of other photos that I took – semi-randomly – at the conference. Just because, I like to do that sort of thing. It probably puts me in the `flow’ state, or something (i.e., I personally find it fun.)
For more on `flow’ theory, see for example pp. 111-113 of: Csikszentmihalyi, M (1996), Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, 1st edn, HarperCollins, New York.
i.e. In a nutshell, the idea is, to keep someone having fun (say, a gameplayer) you have to make sure their (gameplay) skills match the task (gameplay) challenge, as the game progresses: This is why games get trickier and more difficult as you progress through their levels, over time and (game) space. (Assuming of course, that the game is well play-balanced, and well-designed, that is. So if anyone ever asks you “What does a game designer do?” one answer is, they’re sort of like a Director on a movie. But the `job’ (or, one of the key tasks) of a Game Designer is: to create a phase-space using the game structure in which the player’s agency will enable an optimal amount of fun, or, flow for the average player in the specific target audience of that game.)
For more on agency and structure (or, Bourdieu, Giddens and Archer’s structuration theory) in game design, if you like that sort of thing, I published an article in AP3 journal (Animation Practice, Process and Production journal), edited by the legendary Paul Wells, the author of, among other things, Understanding Animation (1998) and also the soon to be revised and updated Understanding Animation (2016).
In delineating `flow’ theory, Distinguished Professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (1996) notes:
`(1) There are clear goals every step of the way…
(2) There is immediate feedback to one’s actions…
(3) There is a balance between challenges and skills…
(4) Action and awareness are merged…
(5) Distractions are excluded from consciousness…
(6) There is no worry of failure…
(7) Self-consciousness disappears…
(8) The sense of time becomes distorted…
(9) The activity becomes autotelic…’
(Csikszentmihalyi 1996, pp. 111-113)
There is also a great TED Talk on `Flow Theory’ by Distinguished Professor Csikszentmihalyi, here:
And, for even more, see Some Great Videos on Creativity.
So, as with the Anna Karenina principle (Diamond 1997, Ch 9), if all these 9 `boxes’ of `flow’ theory above are ticked, the person (or, `individual’, or `agent’) is probably in: the flow state.
The idea is, for the game designer(s) to keep the Player inside the `flow’ channel. And – games that don’t do this, are usually `de-selected’ by the field (i.e., by the videogame audience) – mainly as: they’re not fun games to play.
And, so – if you can think of any game that is in the following categories of `canon’, then, it must have put a significant majority (or, a consensus) of players in the `flow’ state (i.e., it must have been: fun to play)…
So, some examples would be, the game: Portal (2007). Or, the Call of Duty series, or say, Journey (2012). (Just to pick some random examples.)
And so, conversely, any games that are not in these above 7 categories of canon, were judged by the field (the game audience en masse), as: not fun to play.
Prof Csikszentmihalyi’s (1975-1996) `Flow’ theory applies especially in Game Design, but also in fact, to any creative process (e.g. it applies to creativity in science, the arts, music, mathematics, to having a good conversation, to watching a movie or TV show that you enjoy, to sports such as surfing, and climbing a mountain, etc – if you like that sort of thing – and, so on).
See also, the excellent article: Csikszentmihalyi, M & Massimini, F (1985), ‘On The Psychological Selection Of Bio-Cultural Information’, New Ideas in Psychology, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 115-38. – In that 1985 paper, the authors suggest that we select memes (i.e., ideas, processes, products) that put us in the `flow’ state – and – that we reject (or, de-select, in evolutionary terms) those memes, that don’t.
And, as it happens, this is all a precursor to the systems model of creativity.
As another aside, `Narrative Transportation Theory’ (Gerrig 1993, Green & Brock 2000, et al) is an adaptation of Csikszentmihalyi’s `flow’ theory to stories (or, narrative), and helps to explain: Why we like some stories, and not others. In short it would appear that Human Nature en masse is a bell-curve (or a Normal Distribution).
– It of course depends what precise traits in Human Nature that we want to look at, at any given point in time (e.g.: Extroversion vs Introversion; Tall vs Short; Sensitive vs Tough, Humble vs Proud, Wise vs Childish, etc.)
For more on all that, see this wonderful article by Csikszentmihalyi in Psychology Today (1996).
Flow Theory, Evolution & Creativity: or, ‘Fun & Games’ – by JT Velikovsky
In this paper videogames and transmedia are examined from the perspectives of both creation (game design) and audience reception (gameplay experience), in light of the theories of the DPFi (Domain, Person Field interaction) systems model of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 1996, 2006, 2014); its herein contended theoretical equivalent, evolutionary epistemology (Popper 1963, DT Campbell 1974, Simonton 2010) and the inherent biocultural evolutionary creative algorithm of selection, variation and transmission-with-heredity; ‘flow’ theory in creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1975, 1990, 1996) as a determinant of ‘fun factor’ in games; ‘narrative transportation’ theory in fiction (Gerrig 1993, Green & Brock 2000, Van Laer et al 2014) as an additional (necessary but not sufficient) determinant of ‘fun-factor’ in ‘story’ videogames; and Boyd‘s (2009) general theory of creativity in the arts as ‘cognitive play with pattern’ – ultimately arguing that game play of any kind may potentially enhance animal intelligence, and therefore that videogames as an art form may potentially enhance human intelligence.
The main reason for using Systems Theory to examine creativity in bioculture (games, movies, novels, jokes, poems, science, the arts, languages, religions, all bioculture) is as Henessey and Amabile (2010) suggest:
I also subscribe to Kaufman and Beghetto’s (2009) 4-C model of creativity:
The spectrum (or continuum) above begins with mini-c (or “everyday”) creativity on the far left, and moves to Big-C Creativity on the far right. Examples of `everyday’ (or mini-c) creativity are what we all do, every day, in solving problems (e.g. What to make for dinner – that is interesting and tasty – using only the contents of the refrigerator and cupboard). Big-C is for example Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, and work by Einstein, Picasso, Mozart, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austen, Shakespeare, and so on… As Csikszentmihalyi (1996) notes: `big-C’ is creativity that changes a domain of knowledge in culture (e.g. science, the arts, music, literature, movies, television, etc).
So my paper examines Creativity, and within that, Science and the Arts, and within that, Games.
My research is located in the domain of consilience, and evocriticism (aka biopoetics, or literary Darwinism):
And my own work is very influenced by the work of the above scholars (Professors Joe Carroll, and E O Wilson) and in particular, Distinguished Professor Brian Boyd:
And so – using the above theoretical framework, I suggest that Transmedia in (bio)culture operates via the laws of physics (as per EO Wilson’s excellent: Consilience, 1998) – which are laws of Evolution – which are laws of holarchies:
In my IE2014 paper presentation I also discussed some of my past work in Transmedia, and also other media in bioculture (in games, movies, transmedia novels, songs, comics, etc):
Consilience – and overlaps in scientific disciplines:At any rate, my IE2014 paper is here:
Flow Theory, Evolution & Creativity: or, ‘Fun & Games’ – by JT Velikovsky
On `Flow’ Theory – and – Photography…
So – in terms of `flow’ theory, and these IE2014 conference photos that I ended up taking at the conference, the key challenge is: to aim the camera, roughly in the direction of stuff that I would like to photograph, press auto-focus (I love when computers do stuff, so that I don’t have to), and then, press another button that makes the photo get taken.
Alternately, the so-called skills I may have, regarding those specific task challenges (ie taking a photo) are, that, I can usually manage to aim the camera roughly towards something at least vaguely visually-interesting, and then, although timing is also sometimes important – pressing the auto-focus, and then the “take photo” button, which I usually find fairly easy. Unless of course I’ve had too much great conference coffee, and maybe my hands are all jittery, or something.
But – even so, blurry photos can sometimes (accidentally) be visually-interesting, or, can imply movement, through both time and space. They can look sort of `impressionistic’, or even `expressionistic’, depending on a few variables:
As it happens, I also studied Photography, and Graphic Design, as electives (though, I ultimately majored in: Screenwriting) for my undergrad degree (in: Communication) at UoN in 1991-3, and, so some skills were very generously taught to me by some excellent teachers at UoN. Although, we didn’t have so many digital cameras back then. (I really like electronic digital stuff, as it makes stuff easier and quicker usually, just in terms of: creative problem-solving.)
Anyway – here are a selection of some of the photos I took: (noting also the evolutionary algorithm, of: selection, variation and transmission).
During Will’s excellent paper on 48-hour Gamejams, I was also reminded of Kristi Street‘s ongoing PhD on The Shootout Film Festival, about which she also gave an excellent paper at the ASPERA 2014 Conference.
– At any rate, then more excellent papers followed, at IE2014:
As an aside, this excellent (and, hilariously entertaining) presentation really reminded me of Dr Michael Meany‘s excellent PhD thesis, on comedy chatbots doing a similar (in fact, almost identical) thing, online.
In my view, this is a truly fascinating area of A.I. development, exploring (and, indeed synthesizing, in Michael’s chatbot) all sorts of theories on: comedy, language processing, and interface design (i.e.: You can heckle the two chatbot characters, `Atomic’ and `Romeo’, who are a `straight-man, and funny-man duo’)…
During the excellent paper above, (Generating Funny Dialogue between Robots based on Japanese Traditional Comedy Entertainment) I also learned about manzai, a Japanese comedy tradition, that (at least, to me) seems almost identical to all other cultures’ “funny man / straight man” stand-up comedy-duo algorithms (or, rule-based systems)…
i.e. The Two Ronnies, Morecambe and Wise, and even The Marx Brothers’ more complex variations on it…
So, it was fascinating to see the so-called `rules’ (or structures, or conventions) of the manzai comedy-duo tradition in comparison to other cultures’… And how the robots created by the paper authors had simulated agency within those structures (i.e. structuration theory, again)
So, the `straight man/funny man’ combination (at least in my limited knowledge of it) would even appear to perhaps be, almost, a human universal… which probably says something interesting about human nature.
At any rate, if you want to know much, much more about A.I. comedy chatbots, I suggest Dr Michael Meany’s PhD thesis on it, `The performance of comedy by artificial intelligence agents‘ (Meany, Victoria University, 2014).
And, just as some wild speculation on my own part, on, Why `funny man/straight-man’ stand-up comedy duos exist as a pan-cultural international phenomenon: Maybe, it’s just inherently, timelessly funny, that, some people are `smart and serious’ and, that others are `dumb and ignorant’ and thus when those two things collide (or come in contact, and thus, problems, or, conflict) – this is all, intentionally – funny.
i.e. Combine those two things (a smart guy, and a dumb guy), and, problems/conflict (and, sometimes, hilarity) ensues.
`Story = Character + Problem + Attempted Extrication’
And, so, the `funny-man’ usually creates constant problems for the `straight-man’, it would appear…
Also, here is as a randomly `cherry-picked’ non-empirical example, that – given husband-and-wife team, the evolutionary psychologists Tooby & Cosmides’ “ecological rationality” (or, cave-person thinking – i.e., Kahneman’s `System 1′ or instinctive-and-non-rational (un)evolved brain, in the excellent Thinking Fast and Slow, Kahneman 2011) – appears to support and `prove’ my point (but – which as a random, standalone example, actually doesn’t at all, if you understand probability, and statistics, and, the problem of `counter-examples as falsification of a theory’), this technique seems to have worked fairly well, for the Dumb and Dumber movie series, but – this alone (combine `smart guy’ with `dumb guy’ and then watch the `funny’ fly) most likely, isn’t enough to alone explain the success of Dumb and Dumber movie series; as other contributing and necessary factors might include that: Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are also extremely experienced and talented comedians and actors (lots of habitus, and `internalization of the comedy domain’, and also, genetic predispositions help – as some people are just accidentally `born funny’, as Woody Allen has often noted), and whom, given a funny story, and a funny screenplay that has thence been created by a Screen Idea Work Group (see: Macdonald’s excellent 2004 PhD thesis), are less likely to be unfunny, than other comedians who might have been miscast in those roles. So, it would appear that The Anna Karenina principle (see: Chapter 9 of Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs and Steel, 1997) applies in movie (and game, and novel, and in fact any cultural artifact’s, or meme‘s) success.
i.e. The Anna Karenina Principle (from: Diamond 1997): Not only do you (as a key creative, and, as a group of creatives) have to do lots of things right (e.g. `start’ with a funny situation, and develop a funny story, and then write a funny screenplay from it, but – the group creativity involved in making a movie must also: not fail). However if the initial idea isn’t that funny, and then the story that emerges around that idea (as a memeplex), and then, the screenplay that gets created as a result of all those precursors isn’t particularly funny, then, there will be no subsequent group (i.e. cast and crew) hired to then make the movie – so, it won’t emerge, or `come into existence’ in the first place, and so – no audience will ever get to see it – and then judge whether it is funny, or not. So, a good idea, story, and screenplay is necessary to enable group creativity to happen in the first place. i.e., In the domain of comedy movie-making: No funny, no Film. This leads into: the `Less Than 1% Problem in the Domain of Movies and Screenplays’, but that’s another story – although game designs and screenplays function the same way, in this regard. (For `group creativity’ to happen in game development, the game design – or idea – needs to trigger financing, so that a game can get made by the group of creatives that need to get hired, in order to then: create it.)
Unless you make the whole game yourself, of course (design, programming, artwork, sound & music, etc)… Along similar lines, I once made a mod of Positech’s Kudos demo, to demonstrate Creative Practice Theory. I also adapted an agent-based model to do the same thing, but in a different way.
The key point here is, I think that the Anna Karenina principle certainly removes the `single cause fallacy’, from examining successful – (and also, funny) – movies, and videogames, and chatbots, and novels, and jokes, and: other media (i.e. all bioculture).
i.e. Not only, must certain goals be achieved (i.e., certain `creative problems’, be solved, such as: `How to make a funny movie?’) which is not as simple and easy as it first sounds – but, also – failure in any of those same areas must be avoided, in order to succeed. (As obvious as that sounds, in retrospect… i.e. What this means is, `failure’ in just one area [one part of the whole] can cause the whole ship to sink. But without the great initial game design, or, great movie screenplay, there is no potential `group project’ for `group creativity’ to happen on, so – good game ideas and good stories/screenplays are viral memes that actually cause `group creativity’ projects to happen. The bad ones… not so much.)
The thing is, we tend to ignore the games – and movies – (and novels, and TV shows, etc) that: `ticked most, but not quite all of, the boxes’, as, we then, never actually hear – or know – about them, as the `field’ (e.g. in the case of comedy movies, the comedy-movie audience) `judges them’ (harshly, but also, rightly) and, those movies that don’t solve all those creative problems, are thus `de-selected’ from the domain of works judged as creative (i.e. new and appropriate), and thus do not become canon, in the culture (i.e., We tend to just forget about – or ignore – them – or, never even hear about them in the first place. Unless, of course – as a special case – they are: really really bad, and perhaps so unfunny, that, they again become funny, just for that reason, like say, that movie The Room, or Plan 9 From Outer Space).
Anyway so, that’s one way of explaining it, and it all goes to Csikszentmihalyi’s DPFi systems model of creativity, which is the evolutionary process in culture, and, which seems to work the same way in Science as well as the Arts and, even in Humour as well.
If you’re interested in this sort of stuff, i.e. “Why do some movies, games, novels, poems, scientific theories, jokes, languages, (etc) succeed in bioculture” – and thus, `not only survive, but also, get replicated and spread like a virus’ and, Why do others, not?” then, possibly, you might even find my own research on `movie and transmedia (games, books, comics, etc) success’ of interest.
And, just as a side-note, Arthur Koestler’s book The Act of Creation (1964) is certainly highly recommended, and here is a list of relevant (and, consilient) works, including 3 of his books. Though, I am not so sure about all the paranormal stuff, at the end of Janus: A Summing Up (1978), as, I am very influenced by Sir Karl Popper’s work, and, the consilient approach to studying creativity in the arts, sciences, and humour (and in fact, in all bioculture).
The consilient approach (using science, social science, and the arts) looks, something like, this:
Mainly, because of this: (i.e.- scale)
And, for more, see The Holon-Parton Structure of the Meme, the unit of Culture.
And also by the way – here is all the stuff (or, the systems) you need, to create an organism (e.g. a person) from scratch – if you ever felt the urge to…
At any rate, then at IE2014 Maria Guadalupe Alvarez Diaz gave an excellent paper on The Mystery of Elin adventure game.
I was also blown way by Maria’s point in her paper-presentation, that, some children who initially don’t know (i.e. understand) Roman Numerals, could work out how they work, by playing the game (The Mystery of Elin) and by teaching each other. (I find this amazing, in terms of creative problem-solving by kids, but, then again, as Sir Karl Popper suggests, maybe All Life Is Problem Solving, 1999.)
I was particularly fascinated by Xin and Karen’s paper, as I also have an interest in the empirical studies of the arts, and science (see: Empirical Studies of the Arts journal, and see also Scientific Study of Literature journal), and this probably is a result of, back when I was the National VideoGames market Analyst for Australia, in 1999-2000, at Inform Pty Ltd (now, GfK). Part of my job as the national games market analyst at the time was to set up and populate the database tracking of videogame-title sales, so, I had the fascinating job (quite seriously) of classifying the 6,000+ game titles that were currently in the retail chain, into various Game Genres, so that our game sales-units tracking system would be able to be integrated into an app that could automatically provide analysis of the performance of various specific game titles, and genres, for videogame publishers and distributors (eg Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, and all the retailers such as EB Games, Target, and so on).
As an aside, I see that Grand Theft Auto fans recently called for a ban on the Target retail chain selling The Bible. (Note: Target doesn’t actually sell The BIble) This reminds me of my satirical transmedia novel about videogame culture, A Meaningless Sequence of Arbitrary Symbols, by Oscar Velikovsky (2088).
In case you’re wondering, according to some research, around 45 seconds is a good length to maximize the probability of an online video going viral (or, being shared, via word-of-mouse). Of course, the length does not correlate directly (or even indirectly) to the virality. But, the longer the video, the more viewers you may potentially lose, all things being equal. (Depends on: the content, and the emotional intensity of the content, and other variables, etc.)
At any rate – when I was classifying 6,000+ game titles into the relevant Game Genres, some of the extant game Genres at that time (back in 1999-2000) included:
- Action-Adventure (a hybrid genre, a classic example of Koestler’s (1967) `bisociation’, or Boden’s (2004) `combinatorial creativity’)
- Role Playing Game
- Real Time Strategy
- First-Person Shooter
- Third-Person Shooter
- Alternate Reality Games
And – for more on all that (i.e., Game Genres) – if of interest – maybe see the Slideshare PPT at: `On Game Writing & Design’ by JT Velikovsky – at the Newcastle Young Writers Festival (2011)
Anyway it was a fun task, to classify all those 6,000+ games. Standard Game Genres have evolved a bit, since the Year 2000, mainly as people (like say, videogame designers, and the `Videogame Design Work Group’ to adapt a concept from Ian W Macdonald’s excellent 2004 thesis on screenwriting in movies) keep right on doing creativity, and thus, combining two `old’ (already, viral) game genres to make a new (hybrid) one… (which of course, is just the evolutionary algorithm, or evolutionary epistemology, or the DPFi systems model in action, yet again…)
At any rate – I really enjoyed Xin and Karen’s paper – and it also has some fascinating parallels in the amazing and excellent book, Creativity in Science: Logic, Genius, Chance and Zeitgeist by the creativity scholar and researcher Distinguished Professor D K Simonton, 2004, in which Simonton examines publishing paper-patterns in science. Simonton finds that any academic paper has a random chance (of 1 in 5) of being accepted. But very interestingly – it is still a random chance. Simonton (2004) notes:
`If editors and reviewers exhibit such a strong consensus on the properties of a high-impact article, then that agreement should take the form of impressive interjudge reliabilities in separate assessments of manuscripts submitted for publication.
This expectation runs counter to the accumulated evidence (Cichetti 1991; Weller 2001). For instance, one investigation calculated the following reliability coefficients for referee evaluation of submitted manuscripts: probable reader interest in the problem .07; importance of present contribution .28; attention to relevant literature .37; design and analysis, .19; style and organization .25; succinctness, .31; and recommendation to accept or reject, .26 (Scott 1974; c.f. Marsh & Ball 1989; McReynolds 1971; Scarr & Weber 1978). Needless to say, if a submitted manuscript reported that its measures had reliabilities this low, it (probably) would be rejected for publication on methodological grounds!
So poor is the consensus among referees that their recommendations to accept a paper agree only about one-fifth of the time (Weller 2001). As a consequence, most published articles should suffer rejection if resubmitted for publication. This bizarre outcome has been empirically demonstrated (Peters & Ceci 1982). Indeed, the evaluation process that underlies all peer-reviewed journals has been generally shown to be “little better than a dice-roll” (Lindsay 1988 p. 75). Luck has more impact than logic in the final editorial decision.
Furthermore, the same minimal concordance confronts peer review when it is applied to research proposals submitted to major funding agencies (Cole 1983). The main predictor of whether a proposal gets funded is the total number of grant proposals submitted, as would be expected from the operation of the equal-odds rule alone. (Cole, Cole & G Simon 1981)…
Premature discoveries are often produced by lone wolves whose domain samples depart significantly from the norm (e.g. scientist 1 in figure 3.1).
In such cases, it is expecting too much to have referees distinguish premature but significant ideas from those that are merely unimportant, and permanently so.’
They do say, “you make your own luck”…
(But – there are at least 4 types of luck. See: Austin (1978) on four different kinds of `luck’ or chance, in creative acts. But anyway, I digress. Either way, Simonton (2004) is a great book – and Xin and Karen’s paper was fascinating.) As I mentioned in the Q & A directly following the paper, my own current understanding is that, the first PhD on videogames was by Sandy Douglas, at Cambridge University, in the 1950s. All very fascinating also, and I felt that Xin and Karen’s paper was a fine addition to the literature in the Digital Humanities.
So – that was `Day 1′ of the conference… and it was amazing and informative and extremely educational, and also great fun. And, even better, we were informed that “There will be cake” *
* (see: the game Portal, if you don’t get this reference) and in fact, there was cake. Both at Morning tea, and also, Afternoon tea break. Amazing. So, that expectation (and prediction, about: the cake) was not falsified: another successful scientific experiment. (I only mention this, as a lot of people don’t seem to be aware that if they are alive, they are probably, successfully doing Science. For more on that, see All Life Is Problem Solving, by Popper 1999).
Anyway – after Day 1 of the conference, as I was walking along one of Newcastle’s more famous dining quarters, the vicinity known as `Darby Street’, I observed a stretch-limo, with some revellers dressed in tuxedos inside, and some of whom yelled at me, to take a photo of them, so, I did. And, here it is.
And then –
[Night falls…. 12 hours pass. As expected, the next day, the sun `rises’ in the East, although this is all relative, as actually the Earth revolves, as it orbits the sun, but, in terms of the general `common sense’ (or folk psychology, or `ecological rationality’ from Evolutionary Psychology) `human understanding’ of these things, it’s just easier just to suggest `the sun rises’, and the Earth stays still, and is the centre of the universe.
Mind you, Galileo got into a whole lot of trouble about all of this, but, that’s another story. Sometimes it takes a while (say, hundreds of years) for most people to get used to a whole new idea, such as say. Systems Theory, as it’s just much easier to do `armchair philosophy’ and to think in `Cartesian binaries’, even though it – that binary kind of thinking – may not actually be a very good approximation to the truth.] I must say though, the systems view of creativity (Csikszentmihalyi 1988-2014) certainly does seem to be a good approximation to the truth…? i.e. How, and why, creativity works (i.e., basically, due to: the evolutionary algorithm).
Anyway, so, on Day 2 of IE2014 it was actually really hot. Probably, due to human-caused climate-change or something. And just on that – it would probably help a lot, if more people understood Systems Theory, and Systems Ecology, and how biospheres like Earth work, and, whatnot. We then, might even be able to solve (or even partially solve), certain real-world (and, `super-wicked’) problems, a little quicker and better – such as say, human-caused climate change. But – who knows. Maybe most people just don’t like thinking in Systems (and thus, Evolutionary) terms, as it can sometimes get rather complicated, and in general, most people tend to like `simple’ things better than `complex’ ones, maybe. Luckily most Game Designers seem to have a very good handle on Systems Theory as, most computer games are in fact, systems.
On another subject, “They” also say that `good gameplay is all about the player making interesting choices’ (and when I say `they’ I mean people like, say, the game design guru, Ernest W Adams, PhD)… but, at first, I really couldn’t decide (i.e. choose) what to wear to the IE2014 conference, on Day 2.
e.g.: Should I go: [A] Suit? [B] Suit-and-thinking-cap? or, [C] Just go as, this guy (?)
In the end, I went with “Choose 1 of: 1” (as per the advice from Victoria Mcarthur and Jennifer Jenson’s paper), and just went along as myself, on Day 2. (And I still tend to think, that was probably a good choice of customized avatar.)
That morning, I had a coffee in the UoN City Campus cafeteria, and, was struck by the lady in red. (As, I just find the colour red, oddly attractive. It’s almost as if, it’s an evolved psychological predisposition, or something).
I also like many other colours, and am really very grateful to the spectrum of visible light waves (including infrared and ultraviolet – though, I don’t get to see them very often, and on reflection, that’s kind of sad.)
At any rate, here are some more photos from `Day 2′ of the conference:
I am getting the order all mixed up now, but at one stage on Day 2, we had the awarding of prizes for best conference poster –
A lucky winner! (Prizes included t-shirts and the Bourdieuian `social capital’ that comes with winning a prize, as judged by the field of experts, or, audience, or both)
Then proceedings resumed, though I think I have gotten these next photos all out of order as well, so I’m glad I’m not being paid to blog any of this (let alone, as a journalist, to do this), or I’d probably be fired. But what I find most amazing is that these papers are sort of modular, i.e. the order probably isn’t that important. Also they were all 10 minutes, yet contained a lot of information.
I found the final paper. `Introducing a Revised Lexical Approach to Study User Experience in Game Play by Analyzing Online Reviews’ to be fascinating, as it is so close to two papers in the movie research domain (from 2007 and 2010) that use a somewhat-similar lexical methodology, to analyze: Whether movie success (or Return on Investment) is caused by the movie Story.
i.e. These 2 papers:
The 2007 Wharton School paper – Eliashberg, J, Hui, SK & Zhang, ZJ 2007, ‘From Story Line to Box Office: A New Approach for Green-Lighting Movie Scripts’,Management Science, vol. 53, no. 6, pp. 881-93.
The 2010 Wharton School paper – Eliashberg, J, Hui, SK & Zhang, ZJ 2010, ‘Green-lighting Movie Scripts: Revenue Forecasting and Risk Management‘.
At any rate, then our fearless conference leader Keith Nesbitt wound up the conference, and thanked everyone:
And then, (as far as I know), we all left the building.More fond farewelling…
And … Got Milk ?
More of us, leaving after the (amazing) IE2014 conference:
Also, later, some of us watched the boats go out of the harbour, at midnight. – Nice…!
All told, a great conference. And so, congratulations – and a heartfelt “THANK YOU” – to, everyone involved.
Oh – and also, my paper from the conference is available, here:
Flow Theory, Evolution & Creativity: or, ‘Fun & Games‘ by JT Velikovsky (2014).
And, if you like that sort of thing, here’s my satirical transmedia novel about videogame culture, A Meaningless Sequence of Arbitrary Symbols. (Yes, as a title, it’s meant to be the opposite of `The Da Vinci Code’. It’s also meant to feel like, it was all created by an 18-year old Gen-Z gamer with a very bad attitude, like say, a geeky modern-day Holden Caulfield…)
– Comments always welcome.
And this reminds me of the controversial news story about Coca-Cola selling Fairlife Milk. If the topic of why advertising and marketing creatives use sex to sell products is of interest, see the excellent book Evolutionary Psychology (Buss 2012). (In case of potential assumptions being made, I am not at all hereby suggesting – in any way – that it is morally, or ethically right, to use evolved human psychological predispositions to sell random products. In fact, to quote Admiral Akbar from Star Wars Ep V, “It’s a trick!”)
P.S. – Also just randomly, here’s another movie I worked on. (Perhaps by coincidence – or, not – it also has loads of Evolutionary themes…)
The Jungle (2013)
Also – for more on Evolution – and the Horror Genre in fiction – see in particular, Dr Mathias Clasen‘s excellent PhD thesis on Monsters and Horror Stories: A Biocultural Approach, 2012.)
And – for more detail on the evolutionary systems (or, complexity) view of narrative and bioculture in general, see, this book chapter:
StoryAlity #132 – The holon/parton structure of the Meme, the unit of culture – and the narreme, or unit of story – book chapter (Velikovsky 2016)
And for a great consilience & creativity & evolution reading list, see:
StoryAlity #71 – On Consilience in the Arts / Humanities / Communication
Comments, always welcome.
High-RoI Story/Screenplay/Movie and Transmedia Researcher
The above is (mostly) an adapted excerpt, from my doctoral thesis: “Communication, Creativity and Consilience in Cinema”. It is presented here for the benefit of fellow screenwriting, filmmaking and creativity researchers. For more, see https://aftrs.academia.edu/JTVelikovsky
JT Velikovsky is also a produced feature film screenwriter and million-selling transmedia writer-director-producer. He has been a professional story analyst for major film studios, film funding organizations, and for the national writer’s guild. For more see: http://on-writering.blogspot.com/
Csikszentmihalyi, M (1975), Beyond Boredom and Anxiety, 1st edn, The Jossey-Bass Behavioral Science series, Jossey-Bass Publishers, San Francisco.
Csikszentmihalyi, M & Massimini, F (1985), ‘On The Psychological Selection Of Bio-Cultural Information’, New Ideas in Psychology, vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 115-38.
Csikszentmihalyi, M (1990), Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1st edn, Harper & Row, New York.
Csikszentmihalyi, M (1996), Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, 1st edn, HarperCollins, New York.
Csikszentmihalyi, M (2014), ‘The Systems Model of Creativity and Its Applications’, in DK Simonton (ed.), The Wiley Handbook of Genius, John Wiley & Sons Ltd., Chichester, West Sussex.
Csikszentmihalyi, M (1988), ‘Society, Culture, and Person: A Systems View of Creativity’, in RJ Sternberg (ed.), The Nature of Creativity, Cambridge University Press, New York, pp. 325–39
Green, MC & Brock, TC (2000), ‘The role of transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 79, pp. 701–21.
Gerrig, RJ 1993, Experiencing Narrative Worlds, Yale University Press, New Haven.
Green, MC & Brock, TC (2002), ‘In the mind’s eye: Imagery and transportation into narrative worlds ‘, in MC Green, JJ Strange & TC Brock (eds), Narrative Impact: Social and Cognitive Foundations, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 315–41.
Green, MC, Chatham, C & Sestir, MA (2012), ‘Emotion and transportation into fact and fiction’, Scientific Study of Literature, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 37 – 59.
Kaufman, JC & Beghetto, RA (2009), ‘Beyond big and little: The Four C Model of Creativity’, Review of General Psychology, vol. 13, pp. 1-12.
Van Laer, T, De Ruyter, K, Visconti, LM & Wetzels, M (2014), ‘The Extended Transportation-Imagery Model: A Meta-Analysis of the Antecedents and Consequences of Consumers’ Narrative Transportation’, Journal Of Consumer Research, vol. 40, pp. 797-817.
Velikovsky, J. T. (2016). `The Holon/Parton Theory of the Unit of Culture (or the Meme, and Narreme): In Science, Media, Entertainment and the Arts.‘ In A. Connor & S. Marks (Eds.), Creative Technologies for Multidisciplinary Applications. New York: IGI Global.
And – for the other references above, see: StoryAlity post #71 – Consilience and Creativity