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Unpacking Johann Sebastian Joust

In the latest installment of Ian Bogost's Persuasive Games, the developer and professor takes a look at Die Gute Fabrik's indie darling of a game and debates whether it lives up to the ideals set by its own creator.
In the latest installment of Ian Bogost's Persuasive Games, the developer and professor takes a look at Die Gute Fabrik's indie darling of a game and debates whether it lives up to the ideals set by its own creator. In the early 1980s, celebrated designer and GDC founder Chris Crawford coined the term "process intensity" -- an aesthetic for computer games based around whether they crunch data or simply display audiovisual assets. While the art of game development has changed drastically since then, the concept of process intensity has lived on, and modern creators like Playdom's Greg Costikyan and Die Gute Fabrik's Doug Wilson have explored it as a yardstick of good game design. But do Wilson's own games -- Johann Sebastian Joust and B.U.T.T.O.N. -- exhibit the process intensity that he claims they do? Bogost is not so sure. "Wilson has two gripes with the design patterns he groups under the name 'process intensity'. First, he suggests that low process intensity is related to a celebration of audiovisual experience over the experience of rules and systems. And second, he objects to high process intensity on the grounds that such games offer narrow player experimentation within the constraints of their rules. According to Wilson, his own games offer signals for an alternate design strategy," he writes. By taking a look at these games, as well as other experimental indies such as Dear Esther and The Graveyard, as well as the work of Brenda Brathwaite (Train) and Rod Humble (The Marriage), Bogost dives into the thorny issue of formalized aesthetics for game design. The full feature is live now on Gamasutra at the above link.

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