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Exploring PICO-8 and what makes a design space 'cozy'

“Something that a cozy design space is not, or is fighting against, is decision fatigue." PICO-8 creator Joseph White outlines the goals of his fantasy console at Practice 2018.
"Something that a cozy design space is not, or is fighting against, is decision fatigue. There’re so many things you need to think about when you’re doing a project, and many of them really interfere with design and creative thought."

- Joseph White outlines the goals of the cozy fantasy console PICO-8

The NYU Game Center has published a handful of talks from Practice 2018, including the one embedded above from PICO-8 creator Joseph White. In that talk, White explores the concept of ‘fantasy consoles’, or game platforms that exist within an emulator, and specifically dives into the creation of PICO-8 and its goal to create a “cozy design space.”

He starts his talk off with an introduction to PICO-8 itself and showing off some of the creation tools baked into the fantasy console itself like pixel art, map, and music editors. Later in the talk, he goes on to explain that PICO-8 was designed as a “cozy design space” and details both what that is, and what it seeks to fight against. 

“In a cozy design space you don’t feel afraid to do anything wrong, you can leave your ego behind and not try to [impress] anybody or anything like this," says White. "You just want to make something for the love of making. You feel playful when you’re in a cozy design space, you feel compelled to explore and you want to make connections with other people and send them messages in a bottle.”

“Something that a cozy design space is not, or is fighting against, is decision fatigue. There’re so many things you need to think about when you’re doing a project, and many of them really interfere with design and creative thought," says White. "'How big the project is, what is my personal motivation for doing it, what’s it going to look like, how am I going to distribute it to other people, and how is it going to physically exist?’ Things like this. I want to throw all of that away and say to PICO-8 users 'don’t worry about it, I'll take care of that, just make a PICO-8 cart.'"

White’s full talk can be found in the video above. Meanwhile eight more talks from the event from developers like Liz England and Adriel Wallick can be found on the NYU Game Center’s YouTube page

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