The Fog of Learning

Can tunnel vision hinder us as designers? What happens when we clear away our own personal fog of war?

In video games, there is something we call the "fog of war." It is that information which lies just outside of your avatar's or agent's field of view. As the player, you might be able to see the terrain just fine, but unless your in-game character can see over the hill or around the corner of a building, it doesn't matter. No one's seeing anything.

I raise this point because I recently discovered this:

This is a painting from Andy Warhol's Death and Disaster series, and I had never ever heard of it. How could I know about this artist, his iconic work, and be utterly unaware of the existence of this entire series?

Upon reading about it and viewing the works, I leaned back and felt exactly like I'd just moved my ship out into the blue in Civilization Revolution. The clouds cleared, and there was new stuff there to be explored.

The experience of discovering Warhol's work was very similar in both metaphor and feeling - it was the fog of learning. This analogy to "fog of war" seems more pointed because I teach here at an art school and this knowledge is always quite close to me.

Perhaps you don't know who Dani Berry is. Click on it, look and come back. See how it felt? If you know who she is, maybe Richard Garfield will work for you.

In a game world, removing the fog of war is as simple as walking in that direction to look. Gaining knowledge of this series was no different. There were no complex problems to solve. I literally Googled it because it appeared in something I was reading about another artist, Gerhard Richter.

The pictures in the link are actually paintings. They are blurred, perhaps, because the incident is being remembered or being forgotten or both or something else entirely. There is reason.

So, all this information is right over there, just barely over there, underneath the cloud. I am fascinated by this most obvious point. What do you suspect is just off of to the right or left for you, and how might it affect you as a designer, artist, game theorist or programmer?

The salient point here for me is that I have not veered much for 27 years. I have lived games, all games, all the time. There is, of course, my fascination with Irish and Irish-American history and Irish-American identity, but I was born into that, and it comes naturally. Even that finds its ways into my games.

So, I am veering and pursuing another degree in Art History, because I like where the ship is going. You veer, too.


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