“Obi-Wan dies, Dumbledore dies, Gandalf dies, 1,500 passengers on the Titanic die, thousands of Pandorans die.” The protagonist may be happy at the end, “but his smile,” [Doran] said, “is laced with the loss that’s come before.”
On several levels, this may be applied to games, but does it hold weight? If a game is a game because it encourages the player to achieve something, then it is possible that games innately fall under the frame of positive psychology. She explains further:
What this suggested to [Doran] is that “the accomplishment the audience values most is not when the heroine saves the day or the hero defeats his opponent.” Instead, she said, “the accomplishment the audience values most is resilience.”
‘I can already tell you one thing: Audiences don’t care about accomplishments.’ ” She was thunderstruck. Wasn’t the Hollywood ending about accomplishment?
No, he said, adding: “Audiences don’t care about an accomplishment unless it’s shared with someone else. What makes an audience happy is not the moment of victory but the moment afterwards when the winners shares that victory with someone they love.”
Lindsay Doran, producer and ‘script doctor’ (Spinal Tap, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The firm)
In the modern metropolitan environment, consumers are overwhelmed with data coming at them from all sides of the physical and online worlds. TV and computer screens have become almost unavoidable, popping everywhere from elevators to bathrooms, blasting a cornucopia of ugly, unhappy information.
The Internet can be a beautiful place, but users had to look fairly hard for a style of artistic engagement online before the Instablogging trend took off. Sites like Pinterest bring creativity and storytelling to the web in, for the first time, highly social incredibly easy to use interfaces.
Furthermore, they not only challenge users to think more aesthetically, veering away from the anxious over-sharing of Facebook and often dour real-time updates of Twitter, but they also force advertisers and editorial entities to embrace this style of pure self-expression.
In a way, Pinterest and the social aesthetic represent a little slice of digital serenity – and that’s addicting.
”— Douglas Brundage http://hypebeast.com/2012/01/pinterests-social-aesthetic/
Allow events to change you.
You have to be willing to grow. Growth is different from something that happens to you. You produce it. You live it. The prerequisites for growth: the openness to experience events and the willingness to be changed by them.
Forget about good.
Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.
Process is more important than outcome.
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.
Love your experiments (as you would an ugly child).
Joy is the engine of growth. Exploit the liberty in casting your work as beautiful experiments, iterations, attempts, trials, and errors. Take the long view and allow yourself the fun of failure every day.
The deeper you go the more likely you will discover something of value.
The wrong answer is the right answer in search of a different question. Collect wrong answers as part of the process. Ask different questions.
A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit.
John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.
Everyone is a leader.
Growth happens. Whenever it does, allow it to emerge. Learn to follow when it makes sense. Let anyone lead.
Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.
The market and its operations have a tendency to reinforce success. Resist it. Allow failure and migration to be part of your practice.
Desynchronize from standard time frames and surprising opportunities may present themselves.
Don’t be cool.
Cool is conservative fear dressed in black. Free yourself from limits of this sort.
Ask stupid questions.
Growth is fueled by desire and innocence. Assess the answer, not the question. Imagine learning throughout your life at the rate of an infant.
The space between people working together is filled with conflict, friction, strife, exhilaration, delight, and vast creative potential.
Intentionally left blank. Allow space for the ideas you haven’t had yet, and for the ideas of others.
Stay up late.
Strange things happen when you’ve gone too far, been up too long, worked too hard, and you’re separated from the rest of the world.
Work the metaphor.
Every object has the capacity to stand for something other than what is apparent. Work on what it stands for.
Be careful to take risks.
Time is genetic. Today is the child of yesterday and the parent of tomorrow. The work you produce today will create your future.
If you like it, do it again. If you don’t like it, do it again.
Make your own tools.
Hybridize your tools in order to build unique things. Even simple tools that are your own can yield entirely new avenues of exploration. Remember, tools amplify our capacities, so even a small tool can make a big difference.
Stand on someone’s shoulders.
You can travel farther carried on the accomplishments of those who came before you. And the view is so much better.
The problem with software is that everyone has it.
Don’t clean your desk.
You might find something in the morning that you can’t see tonight.
Don’t enter awards competitions.
Just don’t. It’s not good for you.
Read only left-hand pages.
Marshall McLuhan did this. By decreasing the amount of information, we leave room for what he called our “noodle.”
Make new words.
Expand the lexicon. The new conditions demand a new way of thinking. The thinking demands new forms of expression. The expression generates new conditions.
Think with your mind.
Forget technology. Creativity is not device-dependent.
Organization = Liberty.
Real innovation in design, or any other field, happens in context. That context is usually some form of cooperatively managed enterprise. Frank Gehry, for instance, is only able to realize Bilbao because his studio can deliver it on budget. The myth of a split between “creatives” and “suits” is what Leonard Cohen calls a ‘charming artifact of the past.’
Don’t borrow money.
Once again, Frank Gehry’s advice. By maintaining financial control, we maintain creative control. It’s not exactly rocket science, but it’s surprising how hard it is to maintain this discipline, and how many have failed.
Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.
Take field trips.
The bandwidth of the world is greater than that of your TV set, or the Internet, or even a totally immersive, interactive, dynamically rendered, object-oriented, real-time, computer graphic–simulated environment.
Make mistakes faster.
This isn’t my idea — I borrowed it. I think it belongs to Andy Grove.
Don’t be shy about it. Try to get as close as you can. You’ll never get all the way, and the separation might be truly remarkable. We have only to look to Richard Hamilton and his version of Marcel Duchamp’s large glass to see how rich, discredited, and underused imitation is as a technique.
When you forget the words, do what Ella did: make up something else … but not words.
Break it, stretch it, bend it, crush it, crack it, fold it.
Explore the other edge.
Great liberty exists when we avoid trying to run with the technological pack. We can’t find the leading edge because it’s trampled underfoot. Try using old-tech equipment made obsolete by an economic cycle but still rich with potential.
Coffee breaks, cab rides, green rooms.
Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces — what Dr. Seuss calls “the waiting place.” Hans Ulrich Obrist once organized a science and art conference with all of the infrastructure of a conference — the parties, chats, lunches, airport arrivals — but with no actual conference. Apparently it was hugely successful and spawned many ongoing collaborations.
Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.
People visiting the studio often comment on how much we laugh. Since I’ve become aware of this, I use it as a barometer of how comfortably we are expressing ourselves.
Growth is only possible as a product of history. Without memory, innovation is merely novelty. History gives growth a direction. But a memory is never perfect. Every memory is a degraded or composite image of a previous moment or event. That’s what makes us aware of its quality as a past and not a present. It means that every memory is new, a partial construct different from its source, and, as such, a potential for growth itself.
Power to the people.
Play can only happen when people feel they have control over their lives. We can’t be free agents if we’re not free.
“If you only have one eye, you don’t have depth perception. If you’re able to look at things with one eye in the 21st century and the other eye in the 20th century (or possibly even the late-19th), it provides a kind of perspective that otherwise wouldn’t be available.”— William Gibson expanding on: “This perpetual toggling between nothing being new, under the sun, and everything having very recently changed, absolutely, is perhaps the central driving tension of my work.”
I’m someone who would rather return to a city that he’s visited many times before than visit a new city. I don’t know many people who are like that;
I like going back to the same place over and over, for years. Because it yields a different experience. If I were the sort of person who went all over the world and only visited each city once, that would be a different sort of experience. I find to really get into a city, I have to go back again and again, and get deeper and deeper into the history and texture of the place.
… A character’s pursuit of a object with an aura becomes instead a way of understanding that aura, and the esoteric information surrounding the actual, material object.
Now that you mention it, I think that’s quite true. That’s an interesting comparison, because with the watches there was a real-life MacGuffin. Often I’d be in a situation where there was some fabulously rare and tiny and esoteric lost piece of a watch that I assumed was somewhere out there in the world, if only I could find it. A given watch could never be completed until that piece was determined.
A couple of times I found myself communicating with people whose knowledge of those things was so encyclopedic and so esoteric that while everyone else in the world said, “No, that piece doesn’t exist. You’d have to have one custom-made,” which would be prohibitively expensive – then, in some back room behind the back room behind the back room, so to speak, I would find somebody who would stare into space, accessing his memory and then say, “There’s a shop in Cairo… [Laughs] on the top shelf in the closet behind the counter, there is the piece you need. However, it’s not for sale. The only way you can get it is to find this other piece to trade the guy…” And then I would be off looking for the other piece.
Somehow that was delightful. It was like a real-life MacGuffin plot. No one’s life hinged on it, but it was a lot of fun. Sort of like a strange kind of fishing.
And also, the things that one has to go through to make this tiny, unique object that one only knows from pictures on the internet – suddenly this tiny thing appears in a glass test tube on one’s desk: it just seems like a weird kind of magic.
…people who talk about video games, myself included, often turn to those games’ narrative, atmospheric, or aesthetic content when discussing their artfulness.
The conversation is also hampered by the fact that many who play and design sports games — not to mention athletes themselves — would sooner dive into a thornbush than say, “Yeah, that thing I do? Art, pal. Right there. Art.” But do me a favor: Go to YouTube and watch a few old clips of Jordan or Maravich. Watch Aaron Rodgers thread the needle through some impossible coverage formation. Watch Jackie Joyner-Kersee run. I’ve been doing that for the past 40 minutes or so. It’s been enlightening.
You forget, when you’ve been away from sports and sports watching for a while, how visually and emotionally ravishing sports of all kinds can be. Even football — which I have gone to impressive lengths to avoid watching and playing — can be as darkly gorgeous as peering down on warring amoebae through a high-powered microscope. Something like humanity’s cultural ancientness is revealed through sport, which reminds us of what we actually are: savage, noble, strange, playful, and, above all, creative beings.
Whatever art is, it must be, in some way, beautiful. Acts of physical beauty performed within rule-set confines are not art, but acts of mental beauty performed within only slightly less rule-set confines (like, say, a sonnet) are. Is that really how we’re going to play this? It doesn’t sit right. Here’s what I just realized: A world in which sport at its best is not seen as some kind of art is a world that doesn’t deserve any art.
This is an industry that demands payment from summer camps if the kids sing Happy Birthday or God Bless America, an industry that issues takedown notices for a 29-second home movie of a toddler dancing to Prince.
Traditional American media firms are implacably opposed to any increase in citizens’ ability to create, copy, save, alter, or share media on our own. They fought against cassette audio tapes, and photocopiers. They swore the VCR would destroy Hollywood. They tried to kill Tivo. They tried to kill MiniDisc. They tried to kill player pianos.
They do this whenever a technology increases user freedom over media. Every time. Every single time.
“I think saying no is far too often misunderstood and misrepresented. I think it automatically puts one on the defensive, as if we must explain our reasons why. While its very definition may be negative, in practice it is often quite positive. I think we need to remove the wholly negative stigma from the idea of saying no. I think we need to return to a definitive support of the positive choice that saying no can bring.”—Patrick Rhone
Eventually, paying for (smart phone) apps may be more the exception than the rule, much like the web, but the business models that are evolving to make that work are often user hostile. On the web we see Facebook’s incessant push to dissolve privacy as they work on monetization. On the iPhone we’ve seen the rise of free-to-play, and other frequently abused attempts at monetization.
Ultimately, the users become the product, not the app.
Selling users to advertisers and pushing in-app upgrades/consumables is a completely different game than carefully crafting apps to maximize user value/entertainment. It’d be a shame if the mobile software industry devolved into some horrific hybrid of Zynga and Facebook.
A group of academics at the University of Southern Denmark argues that we are emerging from the other side of what they call ‘the Gutenberg parenthesis.’
Before Gutenberg, knowledge was passed mouth-to-mouth, scribe-to-scribe, changing along the way with little sense of authorship.
Inside the parenthesis, with the press, knowledge became linear, permanent, more a product than a process, with clear ownership.
More than five centuries later, they say we are emerging from the other side of the parenthesis.
Now knowledge is again passed along, remixed as it goes, with less sense of ownership: It’s process over product.
In his upcoming book Too Big to Know, David Weinberger sketches a vision of knowledge that is too big for libraries, institutions, or our heads. ‘Knowledge is now the property of the network,’ he writes.
‘The smartest person in the room is the room itself.’
“One option is to struggle to be heard whenever you’re in the room…
Another is to be the sort of person who is missed when you’re not.
The first involves making noise. The second involves making a difference.”—Seth
AS WE LEARN HOW TO WRITE THIS SHOW, A RECURRING PROBLEM BECOMES CLEAR.
THE PROBLEM IS THIS: TO DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN DRAMA AND NON-DRAMA. LET ME BREAK-IT-DOWN-NOW.
EVERYONE IN CREATION IS SCREAMING AT US TO MAKE THE SHOW CLEAR. WE ARE TASKED WITH, IT SEEMS, CRAMMING A SHITLOAD OF INFORMATION INTO A LITTLE BIT OF TIME.
OUR FRIENDS. THE PENGUINS, THINK THAT WE, THEREFORE, ARE EMPLOYED TO COMMUNICATE INFORMATION — AND, SO, AT TIMES, IT SEEMS TO US.
BUT NOTE:THE AUDIENCE WILL NOT TUNE IN TO WATCH INFORMATION. YOU WOULDN’T, I WOULDN’T. NO ONE WOULD OR WILL. THE AUDIENCE WILL ONLY TUNE IN AND STAY TUNED TO WATCH DRAMA.
QUESTION:WHAT IS DRAMA? DRAMA, AGAIN, IS THE QUEST OF THE HERO TO OVERCOME THOSE THINGS WHICH PREVENT HIM FROM ACHIEVING A SPECIFIC, ACUTE GOAL.
SO: WE, THE WRITERS, MUST ASK OURSELVES OF EVERY SCENE THESE THREE QUESTIONS.
1) WHO WANTS WHAT?
2) WHAT HAPPENS IF HER DON’T GET IT?
3) WHY NOW?
THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS ARE LITMUS PAPER. APPLY THEM, AND THEIR ANSWER WILL TELL YOU IF THE SCENE IS DRAMATIC OR NOT.
IF THE SCENE IS NOT DRAMATICALLY WRITTEN, IT WILL NOT BE DRAMATICALLY ACTED.
THERE IS NO MAGIC FAIRY DUST WHICH WILL MAKE A BORING, USELESS, REDUNDANT, OR MERELY INFORMATIVE SCENE AFTER IT LEAVES YOUR TYPEWRITER. YOU THE WRITERS, ARE IN CHARGE OF MAKING SURE EVERY SCENE IS DRAMATIC.
THIS MEANS ALL THE “LITTLE” EXPOSITIONAL SCENES OF TWO PEOPLE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD. THIS BUSHWAH (AND WE ALL TEND TO WRITE IT ON THE FIRST DRAFT) IS LESS THAN USELESS, SHOULD IT FINALLY, GOD FORBID, GET FILMED.
IF THE SCENE BORES YOU WHEN YOU READ IT, REST ASSURED IT WILL BORE THE ACTORS, AND WILL, THEN, BORE THE AUDIENCE, AND WE’RE ALL GOING TO BE BACK IN THE BREADLINE.
SOMEONE HAS TO MAKE THE SCENE DRAMATIC. IT IS NOT THE ACTORS JOB (THE ACTORS JOB IS TO BE TRUTHFUL). IT IS NOT THE DIRECTORS JOB. HIS OR HER JOB IS TO FILM IT STRAIGHTFORWARDLY AND REMIND THE ACTORS TO TALK FAST. IT IS YOUR JOB.
EVERY SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. THAT MEANS: THE MAIN CHARACTER MUST HAVE A SIMPLE, STRAIGHTFORWARD, PRESSING NEED WHICH IMPELS HIM OR HER TO SHOW UP IN THE SCENE.
THIS NEED IS WHY THEY CAME. IT IS WHAT THE SCENE IS ABOUT. THEIR ATTEMPT TO GET THIS NEED MET WILL LEAD, AT THE END OF THE SCENE,TO FAILURE - THIS IS HOW THE SCENE IS OVER. IT, THIS FAILURE, WILL, THEN, OF NECESSITY, PROPEL US INTO THE NEXT SCENE.
ALL THESE ATTEMPTS, TAKEN TOGETHER, WILL, OVER THE COURSE OF THE EPISODE, CONSTITUTE THE PLOT.
ANY SCENE, THUS, WHICH DOES NOT BOTH ADVANCE THE PLOT, AND STANDALONE (THAT IS, DRAMATICALLY, BY ITSELF, ON ITS OWN MERITS) IS EITHER SUPERFLUOUS, OR INCORRECTLY WRITTEN.
YES BUT YES BUT YES BUT, YOU SAY: WHAT ABOUT THE NECESSITY OF WRITING IN ALL THAT “INFORMATION?”
AND I RESPOND “FIGURE IT OUT” ANY DICKHEAD WITH A BLUESUIT CAN BE (AND IS) TAUGHT TO SAY “MAKE IT CLEARER”, AND “I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HIM”.
WHEN YOU’VE MADE IT SO CLEAR THAT EVEN THIS BLUESUITED PENGUIN IS HAPPY, BOTH YOU AND HE OR SHE WILL BE OUT OF A JOB.
THE JOB OF THE DRAMATIST IS TO MAKE THE AUDIENCE WONDER WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. NOT TO EXPLAIN TO THEM WHAT JUST HAPPENED, OR TO*SUGGEST* TO THEM WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
ANY DICKHEAD, AS ABOVE, CAN WRITE, “BUT, JIM, IF WE DON’T ASSASSINATE THE PRIME MINISTER IN THE NEXT SCENE, ALL EUROPE WILL BE ENGULFED IN FLAME”
WE ARE NOT GETTING PAID TO REALIZE THAT THE AUDIENCE NEEDS THIS INFORMATION TO UNDERSTAND THE NEXT SCENE, BUT TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO WRITE THE SCENE BEFORE US SUCH THAT THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INTERESTED IN WHAT HAPPENS NEXT.
YES BUT, YES BUT YES BUT YOU REITERATE.
AND I RESPOND FIGURE IT OUT.
HOW DOES ONE STRIKE THE BALANCE BETWEEN WITHHOLDING AND VOUCHSAFING INFORMATION? THAT IS THE ESSENTIAL TASK OF THE DRAMATIST. AND THE ABILITY TO DO THAT IS WHAT SEPARATES YOU FROM THE LESSER SPECIES IN THEIR BLUE SUITS.
FIGURE IT OUT.
START, EVERY TIME, WITH THIS INVIOLABLE RULE: THE SCENE MUST BE DRAMATIC. it must start because the hero HAS A PROBLEM, AND IT MUST CULMINATE WITH THE HERO FINDING HIM OR HERSELF EITHER THWARTED OR EDUCATED THAT ANOTHER WAY EXISTS.
LOOK AT YOUR LOG LINES. ANY LOGLINE READING “BOB AND SUE DISCUSS…” IS NOT DESCRIBING A DRAMATIC SCENE.
PLEASE NOTE THAT OUR OUTLINES ARE, GENERALLY, SPECTACULAR. THE DRAMA FLOWS OUT BETWEEN THE OUTLINE AND THE FIRST DRAFT.
THINK LIKE A FILMMAKER RATHER THAN A FUNCTIONARY, BECAUSE, IN TRUTH, YOU ARE MAKING THE FILM. WHAT YOU WRITE, THEY WILL SHOOT.
HERE ARE THE DANGER SIGNALS. ANY TIME TWO CHARACTERS ARE TALKING ABOUT A THIRD, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.
ANY TIME ANY CHARACTER IS SAYING TO ANOTHER “AS YOU KNOW”, THAT IS, TELLING ANOTHER CHARACTER WHAT YOU, THE WRITER, NEED THE AUDIENCE TO KNOW, THE SCENE IS A CROCK OF SHIT.
DO NOT WRITE A CROCK OF SHIT. WRITE A RIPPING THREE, FOUR, SEVEN MINUTE SCENE WHICH MOVES THE STORY ALONG, AND YOU CAN, VERY SOON, BUY A HOUSE IN BEL AIR AND HIRE SOMEONE TO LIVE THERE FOR YOU.
REMEMBER YOU ARE WRITING FOR A VISUAL MEDIUM. MOST TELEVISION WRITING, OURS INCLUDED, SOUNDS LIKE RADIO. THE CAMERA CAN DO THE EXPLAINING FOR YOU. LET IT. WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERS DOING -*LITERALLY*. WHAT ARE THEY HANDLING, WHAT ARE THEY READING. WHAT ARE THEY WATCHING ON TELEVISION, WHAT ARE THEY SEEING.
IF YOU PRETEND THE CHARACTERS CANT SPEAK, AND WRITE A SILENT MOVIE, YOU WILL BE WRITING GREAT DRAMA.
IF YOU DEPRIVE YOURSELF OF THE CRUTCH OF NARRATION, EXPOSITION,INDEED, OF SPEECH. YOU WILL BE FORGED TO WORK IN A NEW MEDIUM - TELLING THE STORY IN PICTURES (ALSO KNOWN AS SCREENWRITING)
THIS IS A NEW SKILL. NO ONE DOES IT NATURALLY. YOU CAN TRAIN YOURSELVES TO DO IT, BUT YOU NEED TO START.
I CLOSE WITH THE ONE THOUGHT: LOOK AT THE SCENE AND ASK YOURSELF “IS IT DRAMATIC? IS IT ESSENTIAL? DOES IT ADVANCE THE PLOT?
IF THE ANSWER IS “NO” WRITE IT AGAIN OR THROW IT OUT. IF YOU’VE GOT ANY QUESTIONS, CALL ME UP.
LOVE, DAVE MAMET
SANTA MONICA 19 OCTO 05
(IT IS NOT YOUR RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW THE ANSWERS, BUT IT IS YOUR, AND MY, RESPONSIBILITY TO KNOW AND TO ASK THE RIGHT Questions OVER AND OVER. UNTIL IT BECOMES SECOND NATURE. I BELIEVE THEY ARE LISTED ABOVE.)”
- David Mamet
Memo to the writers of The Unit. Reminding them how to write drama/good TV.
Every single detail applies to Creative Direction and Experience Design.