Updated: May 8
Today we host our 2nd playtest with four insightful friends: Peter, Sha, Pricilla and Angel. They work in different fields, but somehow they are working with "creativity" on a daily basis: Peter is a greatvisual artist, as well as a wonderful teacher teaching students in visual studies in Baptist University about the intersection of computer game and landscape studies; I know Sha from a mutual friend slash a playtester from our last round playtext. She is a French freelance writer focusing on culture and gender in this part of the world; Pricilia works for Oxfam Hong Kong, and she uses storytelling as a method for education campaigns. Angel is a PR specialist in a global agency specialising in contemporary art. When she is not working, she is also a passionate cosplayer, and theater actress.
They each used around 25 mins to complete our prototype. Then they wrote on a pre-designed questionnaire. After every one is done, we sat together and started a focus group structurally about their play experience. To my surprise, we started right away with Angel stating: "I don't agree with your definition of creativity in the company promotion video!"
She is talking about a short video you as a player would immediately watch after entering the game: a job recruitment advertisement by the company MindJob. It is a high tech company that recycles dead artists brain to clean it for new borns. The rational behind it is that, any kid (whose parents are rich enough), can inherit a fully developed brain in terms of creativity, without going through learning and experiencing and suffering. Or as Peter put it:" Like going to university, injecting knowledge without living in the society experiencing the knowledge you are injected with."
That's precisely what we meant in that video. I am actually very happy they all get the message. But poor Angel was emotional, for she is dealing with creative professionals (artist, designers, writers) everyday. And from her practices, she believe that: "The great artist didn't become artist because they know colour theory, but from living a dramatic and painful life. How can you remove the most valuable personal touch, and just have an empty brain!"
Pricilia jumped right in, and told us she was trained as a pianist when she was little:" I mean, how can destroy pianos. Many real musicians, no matter how resentful they were as a kid of endless training, LOVE the instrument. You don't smash something that valuable!"
The more emotional they get, the more secretly happy I was (I hid it well though, so relax). Yes, how can we? How Dare We? To remove the most important element from a creative mind. How creative could the mind be when all the dramas and traumas are gone! (Peter: can a fucked-up genius still be genius if they are not fucked up? Sha: if Club 29 all lived a long life, would they still be so great?)
All my life, I am so lucky to be surround by artists. It is true that most of them are very sensitive, some of them had quite some life stories to tell. I never thought I could be an artist, besides lacking of concrete skills, I also feel I don't have enough tragic episodes happened to me (or I already transformed them to stupid jokes before I cry for them). Can I be an artist if I am content and ordinary. Virginia Wolf said to be content is important for a writer to write well, yet she drowned herself due to depression.
When do I write while, when I looked at my best writings, I have to admit that most of the time I was writing under a particular emotional surge. I remember a year ago when I felt betrayed and manipulated by a friend, I could not sleep until I wrote like crazy for my column of story called "parasite". I was full of tears, and even though I used my pen (keyboard) to depicting them as merciless creatures, I still doubted if I misunderstood them. It is a mixture of hatred, regrets, shame and self-pity that pushed me finishing the writing in 15 mins. It was so smooth and therapeutic that when I finished typing and read back, the pain itself devolved a little. And I could not tell if I was writing as a conscious human being, or my emotion was the one that doing the creative part while I was merely the tool that operationalise the task that was typing.
To this day, I loved that article. Could I still write it if nothing miserable happened? I doubt it. On the other hand, I sincerely hope those shitty thing didn't take place, so that even though I am one great article short, I can still trust people freely, like I used to be.
Alan said one day that in Central, the banking district of Hong Kong. There are nutrition bars and oxygen bars where you can get some kind of injection to absorb nutrition and oxygen without eating and digesting it. We laughed at the idea, but both wondered: isn't the same as what creative industry, stem education trying to feed us with: skills, achievement, nutritions without actually learning and failing and suffering.
When I mentioned this game idea to Chinese game artist Feng Mengbo. We started to talk about human-machine interface. And he commented:" future kids don't to school, they just connect their brain to the computer -- but of course, it's a rich kid's privilege. You always need to pay with money or some other things at the beginning of a new technology."
Would I have enough to pay for that? If I am capable of doing that, I can be Neo in Matrix, and I just inject myself with information of "martial art", or "oil painting" (why not), and "russian language", oh and "Python". I can download all the database into my mind and be great! Can I be great? or if everyone can download these database into their brain, am I ordinary and boring again? Is creativity a relative subject, or is it absolute? Would I be equally genius if I experience Van Gough's life via a VR/AR program?
These are the questions I am sure human will soon ask each other. The game, the company in the game choose their stand, and people like Angel would place herself in the opposite position.
How about you?