Established with: James Taylor
Support: Arts, Science, and Culture Initiative
The Experimental Games Group is a collective of scholars and designers who belong to the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab at the University of Chicago. This group meets once a week to brainstorm small-scale games. We approach games not as finished products but as media of thought. The collective — made up of game designers and scientific researchers, faculty and graduate students — approaches concepts through the process of game design. How, we ask, might one approach concepts such as “jealousy,” “passing,” “failure,” or “anxiety” via a short interactive experience? How might one evoke an emotion or explore a networked relation through a mobile game? How might games incite learning through affective, rather than rational, encounters?
The emphasis of this group is on collaborative brainstorming and digital prototypes that are produced in short game jams. Each project yields a playable but unfinished prototype that can be experienced in a short (2-10 minute) play session. In this way, the group moves through an entire development cycle in a short period, and quickly decides on ideas that can be implemented. Some of these prototypes may, eventually, be transformed into polished games. But the focus is on collaborative and experimental thought through hands-on experience design and systems building. We take seriously the capacity of art as a form of inquiry that exceeds performance or entertainment. Our game designs are “experimental” processes (rather than merely “innovative” products) that encourage hypothesis testing, reflective uncertainty, and generative failure.