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Feature: 'Event Wrap Up: Controller: Artists Crack the Game Code'

Today's main feature is a series of interviews with the some of the artists displaying their works at Controller: Artists Crack the Game Code, an exhibition held at the I...
Today's main feature is a series of interviews with the some of the artists displaying their works at Controller: Artists Crack the Game Code, an exhibition held at the InterAccess Media Arts Centre in Toronto, Ontario between February 25th and March 25th 2006, that displayed the works of artists working in the field of video game modification. In the following excerpt, artist Myfawny Ashmore reveals the motivation behind her Mario Trilogy, which are hacked ROMs that only allow players to do very specific things with classic Mario NES games: "There were quite a few things that led me to make Mario_battle_no.1, the first of the Mario mods. Mario_is_drowning and Mario_doing_time came a few years later. First, I spent an entire summer in the '80s when I was completely unemployed, with my back on the floor, controller in hands, from early morning until night playing Super Mario Bros. (1 through 3). Unfortunately, I am completely employed now, and will likely never experience that kind of aimless leisure ever again. This led to thinking about what is going on in games, what are the goals and kinds of labor required, and what do *I* want out of my own life before my game is over. When I first distributed the work, I didn't have anywhere to show it, other than at parties on floppies and over the Internet. At some point, it was shown in Amsterdam at a squat called Smart Project Space. They had a huge theatre with stacked seats and a projector. It was the first time I had watched anyone play it. It was pretty interesting - the way players decided to spend their time. One person spent the entire time trying to get at the only question mark block I left, that was inaccessible, and then they died. Another person ran the entire length of the game, and then died, others danced, jumped, were silly and one guy shoved a floppy into the controller to wedge it so that he wouldn't actually have to play, and he walked away. I figured he was probably upper management somewhere. So, I guess by removing the extraneous articles, it kind of forces an examination of the player's activities, choices they make without the distractions and glitz of the usual gameplay. Mario_doing_time was actually made for a proposal for the Eastern State Penitentiary, which is a historic ruin that has exhibiting artists. I wanted to have an illegal activity within the prison walls, and having people participate in something "illegal" without the immediate realization that they were in some way party to something that 200 years ago was likely not even conceivable as a crime. I didn't get the gig though." You can now read the full Gamasutra feature on the subject, including more from the other displaying artists (no registration required, please feel free to link to this column from external websites).

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