[iDC] A somewhat off-topic but relevant graduate project at Parsons

Margaret Morse memorse at comcast.net
Thu Sep 24 07:22:44 UTC 2009

Dear David,
I have some old-fashioned information for you: read James P. Carse,  
Finite and Infinite Games (1987) for an overview of the issues Lose/ 
Lose raises.  Play wants to keep on playing; that means keeping the  
game going and changing.  How permanent is killing files or program  
suicide?  What kind of game play proceeds from that?   Death in most  
games isn't really death, it is resurrection.

I am still struck by the places in Huizinga's Homo Ludens where he  
describes a Biblical incident of play in which the best youths of the  
city fall on their swords in self-sacrifice.  Huizinga is so struck by  
this that he brings up in different frameworks.  This is play, but a  
rather astonishing kind. For more on this see his discussion of war as  

The game is provocative, a play of discourse rather than a game that  
keeps on playing.

Margaret Morse

On Sep 23, 2009, at 9:35 PM, David Carroll wrote:

> I've been lurking on the list thinking about how to contribute and  
> introduce myself. An opportunity has presented itself through a very  
> recent graduate student project. While this particular project is  
> disruptive in subject matter, the mention of it on this list is not  
> meant to be a disruption to the terrific essays that have been  
> threading nicely along the conference themes.
> My MFA thesis student in the Parsons Design & Technology program,  
> Zach Gage, has launched an "art game" which is stirring up  
> substantial controversy online called "Lose/Lose." It outlandishly  
> deletes your files as you win and deletes itself as you lose. Is it  
> malware? No, because it clearly discloses the outcome of playing,  
> rather than employing deception. What constitutes an "art game?" The  
> student has only recently discovered Flux kits and other playable  
> artworks.
> Here are a few links that point to the project's site and some  
> coverage:
> http://bit.ly/XHV6P
> http://bit.ly/SymG0
> http://bit.ly/acbpc
> http://bit.ly/WbauM
> http://bit.ly/9D6XX
> http://bit.ly/sAIoa
> Certainly, the project interrogates the notions of play, property,  
> privacy and the problems of virtual/actual agency. Considering the  
> topic of labor, the applicability of the project is more of a  
> stretch, but something (albeit simplistic) is there. Indeed, the  
> "work" of play here disrupts the habits of a regular game mechanic  
> through reversal (i.e., to not play is to win; to reject the  
> assignment of a weaponized player as the vocation of an alien killer).
> Perhaps what's most interesting about this project, which is merely  
> a design research experiment working towards formulating a greater  
> body of work, is the collective labor of playing of the game and/or  
> just responding to it. Zach remains surprised that anyone actually  
> plays the game despite its clearly stated effect (it will delete  
> your files and destroy your digital property). Yet, the high-score  
> list is growing. In addition, it serves as a theoretical work  
> because the designer's statement clearly states the rationale for  
> its creation and release into the wild.
> Maybe I am just curious if this experiment merits any scholarly  
> consideration? What advice would you give this student if he was  
> your MFA thesis candidate?
> thank you.
> Dave
> David Carroll
> Assistant Professor of Media Design
> School of Art, Media & Technology
> Parsons The New School for Design
> 2 West 13 Street, Room L1106
> New York, NY 10011
> 212 229 8908 x4092 office
> 917 302 1296 mobile
> http://dave.parsons.edu
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