ARCADE PACA, Aix-en-Provence, 19-28 October 2012

A machinima show curated for the Festival Gamerz by Isabelle Arvers

By setting foot on this planet, each of us is thrown into the big play, the rules of which we have not been allowed to choose. In this world, human actions are no events we can determine freely, but we always have to steer a middle course between the playing rules and the playroom in which human freedom resides. For as long as extra-terrestrial journeys to other life-sustaining planets remain confined to science fiction movies, this earthly stage will be beginning and end, past and future, fate and hope of the play of life as it unfolds. The boundaries of this playing field constitute the limits, within which seven billion tragicomedies are performed. Therefore, to all of us, the most important question in life is: ‘wanna play’? (Jeroen Timmermans, 2010)*

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To raise the question of identity in the digital age is to raise the question of our multiple identities, all of these others that we have in ourselves, that identity / otherness that is our foundation. In 1871, Arthur Rimbaud wrote to George Izambard about the poet: “I is an other

We are all strangers to someone, somewhere. Our difference is what allows us to be with others and to interact with the world. The other is not one that should scare us because it is different. This is not necessarily an alien, an enemy, a zombie, a terrorist or a villain. The other can be a collaborator, a friend, a stranger who helps us, who dialogues with us and hears us, sustains us, accompanies us.

On the web and in the games, our identity is based on our interactions, on what we produce. « As players participate, they become authors not only of text but of themselves, constructing new selves through social interaction » (Who Am we, Sherry Turkle)**

As highlighted by A. Giddens*** , the identity of an individual is based on its ability to create and maintain a narrative on what he thinks of himself. Our identity is then defined by the discourse that we make about ourselves for the others.

This is where the work done through the diversion of game engines in machinima reformulates and plays with these identity questions.

Designing a machinima means to play with these multiple identities: avatars, distorted voices, personality and word games, diversion of the codes of cinema and video games. It is to reclaim a world that escapes us, codes that we do not define, but against which we can be outraged. To defend our freedom of thought, to express ourselves and to share within a free web and in a more open and free world.

References :

* – Playing with paradoxes. Identity in the web era, Jeroen Timmermans, 2010
** – Shelly Turkle , Who am we ?, Jan. 1996
*** – A Giddens, Modernity and Self-Identity, Polity Press, Cambridge, 1991

GAMERZ 08 – Machinimas par Festival-GAMERZ

Codes of Honor, Jon Rafman, CA, 2011

On February 28th, 2011, after over 50 years, Chinatown Fair arcade closed down. The dim-lit arcade at the end of Mott street, where I had spent the better part of the previous year interviewing legendary gamers, had been the training and battleground for the best East Coast players. Although limited in scope and time, pro gamers have an experience of achievement so intense that it is forever difficult to equal. Yet the high of beating an opponent or the game is as fleeting as their reign as champions. With a narrator in a virtual world who recalls his days as a pro gamer, an arcade regular who recounts his greatest memory and archetypal cut-scenes from the games themselves, Codes of Honor incorporates the exploration features that so captivate video-gamers as it moves seamlessly through actual, virtual, and imaginary space and time. It is both a meditation on nostalgia and the journey of a professional gamer as he moves from the prized moment when he masters a game or defeats an archival to question the significance of his legacy at all. It asks the question that we must all ask ourselves: In a world where history and tradition mean less and less, how do we achieve redemption, how do we even construct a continuous self.

Jon Rafman page on Artsy

Selection, Reflection, Attention, Ahmed El Shaer, Egypt, 2011

Natural selection is the process by favouring genetic trait gene to become more common in subsequent generations of communities composed of organisms proliferating. Gene favourite features is gradually becoming less common. Tabaa selection works on the phenotype of any features on the phenomenon observed in the organism: Organisms fastest or most powerful enemy is most able to survive and produce generations of later phenotype is preferred. If these phenotypes with a genetic basis, then you will be able to genotype coupled with a virtual pattern of a preferred frequency to increase in subsequent generations. With time, this process can produce compatibility leads to the specialization of organisms to specific environments and can lead to the emergence of new types of living.

This Spartan Life Episode 7, Bongdern Productions, US, 2012

This Spartan Life Episode 7 from This Spartan Life on Vimeo.

Damian interviews Fight For The Future’s Tiffiniy Cheng, one of the organizers of the massive anti-SOPA internet blackout last January. With Aero and Damian on set, running the interview, Fyb3r is left to continue his search for the elusive Lt. Minderbinder alone, in enemy territory.
Internet freedom proponent and activist, Tiffiniy Cheng talks to Damian about how her organization, Fight For The Future, helped defeat the potentially disastrous SOPA and PIPA bills in Congress.

Free Fall, Palle Torrson, Sweden, 2011 – Game Modification Half life 2

We are in a kind of perpetual fall, which dissolves notions of linearity and hierarchy.
a video made with a game modification of Half-Life 2. As Torsson writes in his statement: “We are in a kind of perpetual fall, which dissolves notions of linearity and hierarchy.” Interestingly, this artwork was released on September 12 2011, a day after the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Gamescenes

Under Examination, Ahmed El Shaer, Egypt, 2009

There are many in the life of the person to the same standards depending on the culture and laws of the surrounding community with all the respect of the religion and customs, concepts, and always find ourselves under examination by either of these standards, or that we reject completely. Ahmed El Shaer,

Viewers of this film are witnesses to a peculiar scene: a character just arrived from Digitaland is in the process of seeking a visa to enter Planet Earth. A bureaucrat from the host planet, in charge of controlling movement at the border, is compiling information about him. In the background, we hear a voice rehearsing definitions for a series of words: “criteria,” “indicators,” “standards.”
The digital traveller is a sci-fi/futurist creature. His features are oddly undefined, adding to the sense of radical alterity he exudes. The only readily recognizable part of his being is a U.S. flag bandana he wears, though why he is wearing it is unclear. Possibly, he means to allay the bureaucrat’s worries as to his suitability to enter Earth. Visa seekers need to put all chances on their sides, these days, especially when what they’re trying to do is negotiate passage from an alien-nation into the “real” world…

Soul Lewitt v1.1, Cyril Lecomte Languérand, FR, 2011-2012

Soul Lewitt v1.1 from Cyril Lecomte-Languérand on Vimeo.

Soul Lewitt 1.0 is a video game’s draft implementing a visit of a Sol Lewitt exhibition. Playing with the work of Lewitt and the game’s graphic design, the scrolling shows tiles/patterns which are also the exhibition’s frame and the wall drawings. The patterns are both the subject of the game and its environment. The subject and the frame of the subject (walldrawing & wallpainting) are then attached at the same level. The player-spectator is then invited to survey the exhibition area and to question its position as viewer. Is he just unrolling the scroll, or does he review the representation of artworks by Lewitt. The use of a virtual world confronts us with the representation of our frame of reference and raises questions about the value of what we see.

Stranger Comes To Town, Jaqueline Goss, US, 2007

Stranger comes To Town (excerpt) from Jackie Goss on Vimeo.

They say there’s only two stories in the world: man goes on a journey, and stranger comes to town.
Six people are interviewed anonymously about their experiences coming into the US. Each then designs a video game avatar who tells their story by proxy. Goss focuses on the questions and examinations used to establish identity at the border, and how these processes in turn affect one’s own sense of self and view of the world.
“Stranger Comes to Town” re-works animations from the Department of Homeland Security –combining them with stories from the border, impressions from the on-line game World of Warcraft, and journeys via Google Earth to tell a tale of bodies moving through lands familiar and strange.
“…a rich ambiguous contemplation of identity and the arbitrariness of geopolitical borders. . ” Mark Holcomb Time Out magazine

Woods: Episode 1 by Shados (Crysis 2 Machinima), FR, 2012

Woods is a “real cinema machinima” experience, it is my first try to use a video game as a single “sandbox” for creating a short film. Thanks to the people, who make this first episode possible. So I’ll hope you will enjoy the stuff, and tell us what you think about it ! STARRING: Robert Benjamin Jr.

I is an other Isabelle Arvers, FR, 2012

More than an aesthetic, games and machinima made from game engines are a 3D vision of the world—a digital representation of it. And in these 3D environments, voices transform the meaning of the scenes. Voices are a tool to appropriate these worlds by adding our own stories, thanks to dialogues between characters. Voices bring sensitivity, a sense of humor or an absurd touch to these virtual spaces.
Voice reflects the idea of alterity and the relationship to another person. Voice is the simultaneous presence and absence of human corporeality. Voice is the content and the meaning in language but also the sound of a person and its body through time and space. With recorded voices in cinema, the grain of the voice takes another dimension: it is the “anonymous body of the actor in my ear.” As we move into the digital domain, this materiality of voice is essential to machinimas and their virtual game spaces. Besides the narrative in the dialogue writing, the voice over represents a huge part of machinimas. Paul Marino talks about it as the “humanness that is otherwise missing from the digital package”.

WAY, an online computer game played with an anonymous partner. Coco & co

Way the Game Coco & co

It is a game in which two players meet for the very first time, building their relationship as they expand their perceptions, learn to communicate, and ultimately construct meaning together.
WAY is a game with some big humanitarian goals, and it is the recipient of the IndieCade 2011 Developer’s Choice Award—an honor for which we are infinitely grateful.