[MUD-Dev] RE: eXistenZ

Zak Jarvis zak at voidmonster.com
Thu Jul 20 21:13:49 New Zealand Standard Time 2000

> From: Raph Koster [rkoster at austin.rr.com]
> Sent: Thursday, July 20, 2000 5:16 PM

> > From: Zak Jarvis [zak at voidmonster.com]
> > Sent: Wednesday, July 19, 2000 3:11 AM

> > Anyone interested in the philosophical side of developing in
> > this industry
> > REALLY should see eXistenZ.

> I have heard VERY mixed things about it from fokls who are game designers
> and movie buffs. Haven't seen it yet though.

Above all else, it is a Cronenberg movie. For those who like his films, and
are interested in the role-playing side of gaming and community building,
chances are good it'll be heavily diggable. I saw it with three other
gamers, all of whom were very impressed by the degree to which it *got* the
experience of being sucked into a multi-player game. Two things help with
comprehension though (and this is where I suspect it lost a lot of people)
a prior knowledge of Cronenberg's work helps you understand why some of the
red herrings are in fact red herrings. A second viewing REALLY brings out
tasty detail.

If you don't like Cronenberg, this movie isn't likely to change your mind.

> > The basis of the movie is this interview:
> >
> > http://zappa.users.netlink.co.uk/cr_rushd.html
> >
> > where the writer/director of the film -- David Cronenberg --
> > interviews Salman Rushdie. Among many other things, the two ponder
> > whether or not agame could ever be art. eXistenZ is a further
> > exploration of that question.

> Of course it could be. Art can be done with any communicative medium.

I was somewhat hesitant to bring the whole game-as-art discussion into it
simply because any conversation I've ever seen on a mailing list where
people need to discuss the nature of art always ends up with silly
intractable opinions on what art is. But in this case, I trust J.C. to keep
things on a good even keel.

I completely agree with you Raph. It's worth noting here, that the film
comes down quite firmly on the side of game-as-art, and further explores
one of Cronenberg's pet areas -- the social responsibility of the artist.
To poorly paraphrase and condense his stance: if it isn't dangerous, it
isn't art, if it's dangerous, you're responsible for what you've done.

There are a lot of really interesting observations and nuances in the film
that I'd like to discuss, but dammit, no one has stepped up to plate that's
seen it!

Some of the things that are in there that I can talk about without spoiling
anything, that really impressed me:

The concept that your character could want to do something that you,
yourself do not want to do.

Pikul, "I feel like the real world is less real than the gameworld."
Geller, "That's when it starts to get really good."

The use of broad accents as an easy means of delineating character.

A fun game you can play while watching it is to spot the character type.
I've seen each and every one of the people in the movie in games, and some
of the people in games I thought were really quite specific and unique,
were actually in the movie. (Not the ACTUAL people, but their personality

-Zak "Croneberg Fan" Jarvis

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