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ChoreographicThinking
andGames
BorisWillis, Associate Professor
ComputerGame Design
George Mason University
bwillis3@gmu.e...
Warm Up
Build a Phrase
1 to 10
Discussion
• Tools
• Iterations
• Design choices
• Observing
• Generating new ideas
• Awareness of self and others
• Puzzl...
What is a choreographer?
Games are a series of
interesting decisions
-Sid Meier
Choreographer designs a series
of interest...
What is a choreographer?
• Designs experiences for an
audience using movement,
lighting, sound, costumes,
props, sets, voi...
DefiningDance
Danceis a transient modeof expression, performed in a given
form and styleby thehumanbodymovingin space. Dan...
Defining
Games
A game is a system in which players
engage in an artificial conflict,
defined by rules, that results in a
q...
Dance andGames
•A choreographerdoesn’t create a game.
•A game designer doesn’t create a dance.
MichaelJackson'sMoonwalker
https://cdn.pastemagazine.com/www/system/images/photo_albums/michael-jackson-videogames/large/m...
Dance Central
Just Dance
Types of Dance
• Court Dance
• Concert Dance
• Social Dance
• Folk Dance
• Religious Dance
• …and more
Susan Rethorst
ChoreographicThinking
• “a kind of spatial emotional map of a situation, the
emotional psychological readin...
William Forsythe
• “A choreographic object is not a substitute for the body,
but rather an alternative site for the unders...
Dance
• The body is the driver of the experience.
• Movement is primary
• Space can move through the body
• Body can move ...
Bound
Plastic Studios
Natasha:A Gameof Dance
BlackRussianGames
Company E
Natasha: A
Game of Dance
▪Natasha offers an
example of
transmedia
storytellingthat takes
place across multiple
platforms a...
Bound
• Staniszewski says of
Bound, “we don’t have
a story, but we have a
meaning” Thus, Bound
can be said to function
or ...
Comparisons
Dance andGesture
Audience/Performers/Creators
Movement/Gesture/Gesticulate
Movement for movement/Story
Games a...
ChoreographicThinkinginGames
Simplicity- Does the player understand where they are and what they need
to do right now? Can...
Tools
William Forsythe
Synchronous Objects
http://synchronousobjects.osu.edu/
Dance ExchangeToolbox
http://danceexchange.org/
Story
Narrative
Write about
• Write about a time
that you felt
successful
1
Divide
• Divide the story into
a beginning mid...
Movement/Rules
Draw
• Draw a outline of your
house or a house you
would like to live in
1
Choose
• Choose three objects
in...
Movement
Decide Decide if youwant to change the order of the movement. begin by
stating the action words/verbsConsider tim...
Discussion
Design a
level based
on your
house
Use the toolsUse
Change levelsChange
Change speedChange
Use turnsUse
How does the
player know
what to do?
• AudienceEngagement
Simplicity
• Affordance
• Clarity
• Feedback
• Understanding
• Familiarity
Surprise
• Unexpectedbut possible based on howyou
establishthe world
Transformation • Player, story, world, gameplaymust be different and
alteredin some way at theend of the game
Repetition
• Establishingthat what player is seeingis intended
• Remindingtheplayer what they needto do by
repeatingit
• R...
Game design as a walk in the woods
ChoreographicThinking
andGames
BorisWillis, Associate Professor
ComputerGame Design
George Mason University
bwillis3@gmu.e...
BodyController TypicalController
• Doesn't feel like dance. Feels like running.
Peter Bayliss
Locus of manipulation
Bayliss argues that a player’s sense of
involvement in the actions of game-play “can
t...
HenrikSmed Nielsen
• Nielsen links this transformational experience to a
somatic undertaking: “my relation to the game doe...
RikkeToft Nørgaard
• Nørgaard’s research aligns with Henry Jenkins’s theories
about video games as forms of “kinesthetic e...
EvgeniaChetvertkova
• Her style is a mixture of different body techniques mostly based on butoh
and improvisation. In her ...
Self-Portraitin Movement
3 day laboratory with EvgeniaChetvertkova
• The idea of laboratory is to find the way howto creat...
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How Choreographic Thinking Can Improve Game Design

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This workshop will look at the ways a choreographer constructs an experience for an audience and how those tools could be helpful to game designers. We will explore how the arrangement of objects and the progression of movements create audience engagement.

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How Choreographic Thinking Can Improve Game Design

  1. 1. ChoreographicThinking andGames BorisWillis, Associate Professor ComputerGame Design George Mason University bwillis3@gmu.edu @boriswillis boriswillismoves.com blackrussiangames.com
  2. 2. Warm Up
  3. 3. Build a Phrase
  4. 4. 1 to 10
  5. 5. Discussion • Tools • Iterations • Design choices • Observing • Generating new ideas • Awareness of self and others • Puzzles • Write down what you were thinking and discovering in the process. • Warm up • Build a phrase • 1 to 10
  6. 6. What is a choreographer? Games are a series of interesting decisions -Sid Meier Choreographer designs a series of interesting decisions. Anythinga game can be, choreography can be!
  7. 7. What is a choreographer? • Designs experiences for an audience using movement, lighting, sound, costumes, props, sets, voice, text or multimedia. • Crafts movement performed by a dancer, usually for an audience.
  8. 8. DefiningDance Danceis a transient modeof expression, performed in a given form and styleby thehumanbodymovingin space. Dance occursthroughpurposefullyselectedand controlledrhythmic movements;theresulting phenomenonis recognized as dance bothby theperformer and the observingmembersof a given group. –JoannKealiinohomoku
  9. 9. Defining Games A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome. - Katie Salen and EricZimmerman
  10. 10. Dance andGames •A choreographerdoesn’t create a game. •A game designer doesn’t create a dance.
  11. 11. MichaelJackson'sMoonwalker https://cdn.pastemagazine.com/www/system/images/photo_albums/michael-jackson-videogames/large/michael-jackson-moonwalker-1.jpg?1384968217 https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/600x315/34/41/0f/34410fe4529aa3766e9f594b2a662249.jpg
  12. 12. Dance Central Just Dance
  13. 13. Types of Dance • Court Dance • Concert Dance • Social Dance • Folk Dance • Religious Dance • …and more
  14. 14. Susan Rethorst ChoreographicThinking • “a kind of spatial emotional map of a situation, the emotional psychological reading of place, and of people in relation to that place and each other”
  15. 15. William Forsythe • “A choreographic object is not a substitute for the body, but rather an alternative site for the understanding of potential instigation and organization of action to reside. Ideally, choreographic ideas in this form would draw an attentive, diverse readership that would eventually understand and, hopefully, champion the innumerable manifestations, old and new, of choreographic thinking.”
  16. 16. Dance • The body is the driver of the experience. • Movement is primary • Space can move through the body • Body can move through space • Focus on body parts • Focus on space • Focus on objects
  17. 17. Bound Plastic Studios
  18. 18. Natasha:A Gameof Dance BlackRussianGames Company E
  19. 19. Natasha: A Game of Dance ▪Natasha offers an example of transmedia storytellingthat takes place across multiple platforms and, in doing so, transforms audience members into gamers.
  20. 20. Bound • Staniszewski says of Bound, “we don’t have a story, but we have a meaning” Thus, Bound can be said to function or “feel” more like a poem or artwork than like a goal-oriented mission that a player must achieve or win.
  21. 21. Comparisons Dance andGesture Audience/Performers/Creators Movement/Gesture/Gesticulate Movement for movement/Story Games and Play Players/Designers/Audience Play/Games Ludology/Narratology
  22. 22. ChoreographicThinkinginGames Simplicity- Does the player understand where they are and what they need to do right now? Can they do it, if not do they know how to figure it out? Surprise- Does the player regularly experience something unexpected yet believable? Transformation- Does your game regularly change the player in some way or give them a new outlook? Is the player or world different from the game start? Repetition- Does your game reinforce established ideas so the player feels grounded?
  23. 23. Tools
  24. 24. William Forsythe Synchronous Objects http://synchronousobjects.osu.edu/
  25. 25. Dance ExchangeToolbox http://danceexchange.org/
  26. 26. Story Narrative Write about • Write about a time that you felt successful 1 Divide • Divide the story into a beginning middle and end 2 Highlight • Highlight the action words and verbs 3
  27. 27. Movement/Rules Draw • Draw a outline of your house or a house you would like to live in 1 Choose • Choose three objects in the house 2 Choose • Choose a number from 1-10 3 Action • Do head shoulders knees toes and stop on final number 4
  28. 28. Movement Decide Decide if youwant to change the order of the movement. begin by stating the action words/verbsConsider timing, sound, size of house Manipulate Manipulate the third object into the first object with the body part from the first room.Tell the end of the story Transform Transform your body into the second object and locomote to the third object in the third room.Tell the second partof the story. Move Move the first object with the body partyouended on to the second object in the second room.Tell the first partof the story
  29. 29. Discussion
  30. 30. Design a level based on your house Use the toolsUse Change levelsChange Change speedChange Use turnsUse
  31. 31. How does the player know what to do? • AudienceEngagement
  32. 32. Simplicity • Affordance • Clarity • Feedback • Understanding • Familiarity
  33. 33. Surprise • Unexpectedbut possible based on howyou establishthe world
  34. 34. Transformation • Player, story, world, gameplaymust be different and alteredin some way at theend of the game
  35. 35. Repetition • Establishingthat what player is seeingis intended • Remindingtheplayer what they needto do by repeatingit • Reinforcingideas
  36. 36. Game design as a walk in the woods
  37. 37. ChoreographicThinking andGames BorisWillis, Associate Professor ComputerGame Design George Mason University bwillis3@gmu.edu @boriswillis boriswillismoves.com blackrussiangames.com End
  38. 38. BodyController TypicalController • Doesn't feel like dance. Feels like running.
  39. 39. Peter Bayliss Locus of manipulation Bayliss argues that a player’s sense of involvement in the actions of game-play “can take many divergent forms” and the sense of “being-in-the-game- world arises from the player’s ability to control the locus of manipulation and by extension their experience of the game” Feels like dancing. Feels like jumping.
  40. 40. HenrikSmed Nielsen • Nielsen links this transformational experience to a somatic undertaking: “my relation to the game does not disengage me from the world, rather it re-enacts my condition of Being-in-the-world as a body... It is a somatic experience that both naturalizes and decouples our relation to the world” (Nielsen, 2010)
  41. 41. RikkeToft Nørgaard • Nørgaard’s research aligns with Henry Jenkins’s theories about video games as forms of “kinesthetic engagement, more akin to experiences of architecture or dance than film.”
  42. 42. EvgeniaChetvertkova • Her style is a mixture of different body techniques mostly based on butoh and improvisation. In her work as dancer and performer she focuses on how does her body and internal psychological state may create a meaningful movement composition. She also often works with visual images as well as with soundscapes to complete dance-body-performance practice.
  43. 43. Self-Portraitin Movement 3 day laboratory with EvgeniaChetvertkova • The idea of laboratory is to find the way howto create self-portrait in dance, considering dance as a body- movement metaphor. 1. Represent your vision of yourself in different modalities: visual and auditory 2. And then use these representations as material, starting point to create through movements body existence and manner of presence 3. Find words to define and analyze some characteristics or interesting points that underline personal representations Through comparing (or even becoming) ourselves to objects, textures, colors, sounds, animals, countries, texts, buildings and others we will find a creative force of dance and body imagination. Set up a question if body thinking(embodiment) as interpretation metaphor of an abstract concept is possible. Embodiment can be understand as creating movement image based on inner sensations, mental images of inner landscape that sometimes are difficult to be verbalized but vivid, touching and emotional. We will work on sensibility and awareness of the body, presence, quality of movements. We will work on dance not as set of movements in time and space, but rather on presence that produce a kind of energy by means of body. It is possible to regard this laboratory as art-diagnostics of characteristics of individuality that may appear as a unit or as a movement or as an energy which takesshape(form) and represents itself in the world through materiality, relations, thoughts,meanings or way of doing something.

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