Game PRO interview by John Davison

I want to right something that riffs on the “are games art” cliche that has been over-explored to death, and instead borrow something from your work, namely “finding art in games.” I really liked the glitch pieces you ran, so I’d like to focus on them primarily.

Hi John, I think the finding art in games aspect has everything to do with perspective. How you look at things.

– Can you give me a little background on yourself? Where you’re from, your gaming history (what you grew up with, any important moments), education, etc.?
I’m from the Netherlands, Amsterdam. Grew up under the smoke of schiphol. I still remember clearly one of my friends in the street where I was living, we had constant fights about which game system was better (sega or Nintendo) I started out with a nes but became a sega fan. I later on grew up a little bit. Studied management economics and law, quit that. Went into design, graduated at the art academy of visual arts in Arnhem. Started my own design company during my school and got into photographing in the virtual world at the same time.

– Can you describe what it was like when it dawned on you that there was beauty in some of these glitches and bugs in games?

I don’t know if it really dawned, it came more as a shock with a wow factor. As soon as I took a shot and took it out of the narration of the match or game. Some of the images could become something entirely different than what they were about before.

– Do you actively seek to break games? Or play as normal, and simply snap an image when you discover something?

A bit of both, I actively seek and sometimes get lost in the game. I just don’t like following orders or predefined paths.

– Can you describe what you think is the most beautiful moment in a game that you’ve seen – intentional or otherwise?

I think The façade from half-life 2 was a nice (unintentional) moment seeing laid bare the structure, technique and a wonderful sight. The scripted moments in Starcraft 2 are interesting as well, (-spoiler alert-) where you have to choose for or against your female laboratory worker. I had that screen to choose the specific option open for like 20 minutes.

– In your blog you make some interesting observations regarding the edges/end of game worlds, and their artistic impact. Do you think this is something that’s under-explored by game designers?

Of course they are but games are commercial products, although they offer an entire world it’s still a product. I do think we should try to push the limits more of the virtual world and how we think things should look, instead of copying our physical world. For an example, in finding ways to get under the map in GTA 4, it\s quite interesting to walk under a moving world. Wouldn’t it also be interesting to have 2 layers to play in on top of each other. Two levels in which you can interact with, travel between. Could be interesting.

– Your work is primarily in first person shooters on PC – have you experimented with other genres? Is so, what. If not, why?

Yea I did some 3rd person games, but that’s almost the same as the first person games. The thing is in these kind of games I can take the most freedom, they are at the forefront of development and are played by millions. Thus being a big part of our popular culture.

Thanks Robert,

John Davison