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Noted videogame developer and academic Dr. Ian Bogost, the Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in media studies and professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, debuts his next thought-provoking and irreverent interactive experience in November as part of his eponymous “Project Atrium” exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, a cultural resource of the University of North Florida.
To be unveiled to the public on Saturday, Nov. 17, Bogost’s latest work, “Simony,” will explore the question of buying versus earning achievement. His work challenges players to ask themselves how important winning—and being seen as the winner—is to them.
Named after the practice, now usually regarded as a sin, of buying or selling spiritual or church benefits such as pardons or relics, the game requires players to ascend a dais and earn, or purchase, their way to the top of a leaderboard projected on the wall.
A round in the game consists of the device lighting up one or more buttons in a random order, after which the player must press the buttons to reproduce that same order.
The raised platform, the illuminated manuscript style of the game, and the auditory experience of the lutes and chants while being played enhance the cathedral-like atmosphere of the Haskell Atrium Gallery. Bogost’s allusion to museum context as a basilica and the use of the iPad as an interface further highlight similarities to how society worships religion, art and technology.
He’ll be on-site at the museum installing the work starting Sunday, Nov. 11 and he welcomes public interactions as he works. He also will present a free lecture about his work and career at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 17, at MOCA.
“Ian Bogost is one of the foremost scholars and designers of games and game theory.” said MOCA Director Marcelle Polednik. “His analysis and the games he designs frequently push buttons.On the surface, his games appear deceivingly simple, but in fact, through their disarming simplicity they address very complex and relevant social and political issues, frequently in satirical ways. Wit can be used as a means to offer constructive social, political and cultural criticism. Ian is harnessing these approaches to both reflect on and deploy the new media of today to highlight timely topics and issues to a wider audience.”
As a game designer, he makes games for political, social, educational, and artistic uses, and his previous videogames have covered topics as varied as airport security, disaffected workers, the petroleum industry, suburban errands, and tort reform. In “Fatworld,” players are charged with managing a diet-and-exercise regimen on a limited budget. “Bacteria Salad” requires the player to grow and sell tomatoes and spinach as quickly as possible while containing E. coli outbreaks, and the game ends when too many people begin to defecate violently. In one of Bogost’s sentimental favorites, “Disaffected!,” surly Kinko’s employees struggle to fill orders for angry customers. At first, the game seems similar to classics like “Tapper” or “Diner Dash,” which transform workplace demands into a source of fun, except no way exists for the player to advance or win., leaving them to conclude what
Cow Clicker,” Bogost's Facebook game send-up of social gaming and social networking, was the subject of a feature article in Wired. His game “A Slow Year,” a collection of game poems for Atari, was a finalist at the 2010 Independent Game Festival and won the Vanguard and Virtuoso awards at the 2010 Indiecade Festival. Bogost is author or co-author of seven books: “Unit Operations,” “Persuasive Games,” “Racing the Beam,” “Newsgames, How To Do Things with Videogames,” “Alien Phenomenology,” and the forthcoming “10 PRINT CHR$(205.5+RND(1)); : GOTO 10.”
Video game art is not new to galleries or museums.
Over the past decade, several museums have held exhibitions about video games, ranging from technological development lessons to explorations of the influence of video games on digital art, as well as stand-alone exhibits of the emerging art form.
Earlier this year, the Smithsonian American Art Museum exhibit, "The Art of Video Games," demonstrated the artistic nature of video games, including the impact of older works and the subsequent influence of video games on the creative culture.
His games have been played by millions of people and exhibited or collected at venues including the Telfair Museum of Art (Savannah), the Morris Museum of American Art (Augusta), the Strong Museum of Play (Rochester), the Museum of the Moving Image (New York), the Laboral Centro de Arte (Madrid), Platform Centre for Photographic + Digital Arts (Winnipeg), the Euphrat Museum of Art (Cupertino, CA), Fournos Centre for Digital Culture (Athens), the Slamdance Film Festival (Park City), the Israeli Center for Digital Art (Holon), and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Melbourne).
When he isn’t writing, crafting videogames, or being a guest on “The Colbert Report,” Bogost is also the Founding Partner at Persuasive Games LLC.
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