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What is a Designer? Lecture 2 -- Craft -- Making Things
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What is a Designer? Lecture 2 -- Craft -- Making Things


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  • 1. Craft - Making Things What is a Designer? -- Lecture 2 David Surman
  • 2. Ask someone to show you how they make avideogame, and theyll often show you a sketch orplan.Heres Toru Iwatani --Thats his original drawingfor Pacman
  • 3. Some organisations, like Nintendo EAD,rarely show their "trade secret" game plans.
  • 4. Lets Make VideogamesHeres a very generalised picture of what it means to startmaking games nowadays:● Get access to the tools, and make sure theyre the right ones for the job;● Learn the skills, beforehand or on the way, to make the game you want to make;● Engage with the community to learn more and be judged on both your output and your social engagment;● Try to make something that establishes you and a good practitioner -- something "familiar" and "well made" -- perhaps "retro" or nostalgic.● Take it to market; appeal to opinion leaders or advocates to get coverage of your game.
  • 5. Videogames, Art, CraftTheres a lot of conversation about whether games are art.We know that there is a historic tension between the ideasof craft and art.What if games function like a craft tradition? Perhaps this isone of the reasons we have such trouble conceiving ofvideogames as art.Over the next 3 weeks well explore how the legacy of thecomparisons between art and craft still inform ourcontemporary view in game development.
  • 6. Defining CraftIt is interesting to distinguish the notion of craft from thebroader notion of art. By examining the origins of ourcontemporary idea of craft, and looking at how such ideasplay out in our work, we can better understand what itmeans to "make things" -- and more specifically "makevideogames".Lets talk about four pillars that define craft: ● The principality of materials; ● The presence of the "hand made"; ● The importance of skills; ● An engagement with tradition.
  • 7. A Brief History of Craft● In medieval europe craft guilds emerged as a means of organising disparate skilled labour into groups with a clear membership and guiding rule set.● Craft guilds worked alongside merchant guilds, and craftsmen were separated into trade guilds, specialising, for example, in carpentry, candlemaking etc.● Guilds controlled access to skills, set standard prices, and demanded membership fees in return for a duty of care and access to work; membership was tightly controlled to match demand.● From apprentice, to journeyman, and to master.
  • 8. The Guild Influence● Craft guilds exerted tremendous political will and social influence, and throughout Europe tensions increased as the "rent-seeking" guilds put a drain on local economies, leading to bloody conflicts throughout the 17thC - 19thC.
  • 9. The Guild Influence● Guild organisation maintained a great deal of tradition and "cultural capital", and provided security in the uncertainty of medieval life.● Guilds stifled innovation and minimised industrialisation through a strictly organised working practice -- with the decline of the guild system we see an associated boom in activity; monopolies impacted on quality.● Guilds relied on a strict social hierarchy and clear division of labour with respect to gender; womens craft was largely excluded from guild organisation.● Price controls stifled free market and trade opportunities, causing economic damage as cities and states grew.
  • 10. The Guild Influence● "Trade secrets" and exclusivity to produce certain goods meant that customers would find it hard to seek out alternative sources, and so guild organisation resembled the contemporary example of a cartel -- where supply, exclusivity and demand create dependence.● As time went on trade secrets and production methods were revealed and formalised into production manuals, and political, economic and technological forces worked in concert to diminish the influence of guilds.● New patent laws and production templates bolstered manufacturing and undermined the importance of guild trade secrets and exclusivity.
  • 11. Industrialisation of Craft● The rise of manufacturing had a radical influence on the idea of craft.● The changing means of production meant that traditional expertise were formalised -- a standardisaton of method replaced master/apprentice tutoring.● The industrialisation of life meant that the social mores afforded by the guild were lost, and as governments exercised free trade practices products were sold internationally.● Skilled workers found work in the emerging manufacturing environments.● Governments moved from patronage of guilds to ownership of manufacturing.● Leading workshops worked in the service of newly wealthy clients, particularly in the 1700s.● Thomas Chippendale