Haven't posted much lately because I've been working day and night on Mower. It's a iPhone/iPod application that is a collaboration between myself and DMA alums, Wes Wilson and Ben Ketnick. I finally submitted it to Apple for approval yesterday. In our minds it's an artwork that happens to be a game, so that may not bode well for the commercial potential, but I think it's a really cool app. I'd buy it for 99 cents!
I'm interested in contemplation in immersive environments and a key influence on that is interactivity. Gaming is composed of many mundane tasks that one must perform to advance, and some people experience a sense of catharsis simply, mindlessly, doing these things in the gameworld. Of course, this happens in the real world too, for example, mowing :-) So, in a sense, the game is a replica of the tedium of every day life. Handheld devices like the iPhone/iPod seem to be readymade for this kind of activity. We make rules for ourselves, providing a sense of accomplishment, and then construct our world to suit.
Artistically, there are some other interesting things happening with the game that are reinforced in the way gameplay is structured. As one holds their finger to the screen they "conform" or "acquiesce." Their viewpoint begins to zoom outwards. If they release their finger, they lose control, and cannot stop the camera from zooming back towards the ground. A tension is formed between the desire to fly ever higher and the drive to let go of the screen. Obviously, or perhaps not, these are references to issues of control and conformity that shape my experience of suburban culture (which I equate with mowing). In a similar fashion, one natural tendency is to try to break these games. People want to explore the furthest boundaries of the gameworld, irrespective of the rule systems that have been put in place by the author/s. Mower intentionally, self-reflexively works with this motivation in mind; mowing is an endless activity with no escape. One can mow forever and the grass continues to grow.
So, that's a general discussion of some of the ideas that formed Mower. Of course, there were a lot of other ideas that went into it, and I learned a ton about Unity3d and iPhone development, so it has been productive. Hopefully in the next few weeks it will go live on iTunes app store and I can start fielding comments like "it's boring!"