Grotto is an experimental, multiplayer, persistent, web-based game framework, developed by Wiley Wiggins and Paul Stiverson.
Grotto serves as a substrate for three interlocking art pieces:
Ariel Uzal, Andy Reitano, Prof. Chandler McWilliams, Prof. Jenna Caravello, Prof. Allison Parrish, Prof. Danny Snelson, Prof. Eddo Stern, Dr. Robbie Fordyce, Diana Thayer, Chris Cuellar, Tristan Espinoza
- Adams, Tarn. “Dwarf Fortress.” Bay12Games, n.d. https://bay12games.com/dwarves/
Dwarf Fortress is a videogame that I have chosen as a focus of study, since it encompasses all of the modes of game world apprehension covered in my thesis work, but provides the freedom of play to challenge some of the ideologies usually embedded in games working in these modes.
- Ahmed, Sara. Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006
Ahmed’s text gives a counter-view of the phenomenology of spaces like the home and the orientation of bodies in action with objects and tools, then extends these concepts to ideas of sexual orientation. I find these ideas relevant to my work, since I am working with and against data turned into architecture, the family as a navigable space, and a child’s active apprehension of the quotidian, which is initially conceived as alien. This text compliments Bachelard’s Poetics of Space.
- Akenson, Donald, and Donald Harman Akenson. Some Family: The Mormons and How Humanity Keeps Track of Itself. Montréal, CA: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007
When I began to build out my dungeon game, Grotto, I used genealogy data in a format called GEDCOM (invented by the Church of Latter-Day Saints in the 1980’s) as a model for the construction of the maze. A software parser transcribed names and dates and ‘official’ familial relationships into rooms and inscribed cenotaphs and connective passages. I had three grandfathers. My paternal grandfather, doubly removed from my life since my mother was a single-parent and this grandfather, Jack “Red” Wiggins, had abandoned my father’s family when he was 60, converting to Mormonism in order to marry a younger woman. By virtue of Red’s conversion and my coincidental use of GEDCOM, I unknowingly started building the dungeon of Grotto in conversation with a grandfather I never met. Almost a third of the maze in Grotto had already been built by Red– the portion of the dungeon that is the most mysterious to me. This text provides some information and background on the Mormon preoccupation with genealogy and how it has created a religious technology used by people outside that religion, accepting hidden implicit ideas about family and pedigree from that religion as a result.
- Anderson, Benedict R. O’G. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. Rev. ed. London ; New York: Verso, 2006
In Grotto I am exploring imagined communities, overlaying nationalistic founding myths with lived experiences of displaced immigrants. Grotto also uses game mechanics to create associations between anonymized strangers to interrogate ideas about community and other.
- Bachelard, Gaston, and M. Jolas. The Poetics of Space. Boston: Beacon Press, 1994
Bachelard’s book proposes a phenomenology of architecture that meshes excellently with the visionary architecture of games. It also explores the space of the home in a way that seems to complement Ahmed, and does so in a way that questions the foundations of rational objectivity.
- Barron, Alex. “‘Petscop,’ the Creepy YouTube Series That Confounded Gamers on Reddit.” The New Yorker, August 31, 2017. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/rabbit-holes/petscop-the-creepy-youtube-series-that-confounded-gamers-on-reddit
This is an article about prior art that I may reference. Petscop is an unusual long-form art project that presents a playthrough of a videogame that does not actually exist, which incorporates some horror elements. The way that the audience apprehends the space made by the “game” even with a surrogate player is interesting to me.
- Bletzer, Michael. “Revisiting History’s Cenotaphs: The ‘Common Man’ and Ethics of Commemoration in Conflict Archaeology.” Archaeologies 9, no. 1 (April 2013): 56–70. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11759-013-9220-9
Cenotaphs figure prominently in my work, and this text situates their use in cultural history. This connects to imagined communities, the Dungeon and the Frontier.
- Brazelton, Bennett. “On the 10-Year Anniversary of Minecraft: Two Interventions in Extractive Colonialism.” Cultural Geographies 27, no. 3 (July 2020): 491–97. https://doi.org/10.1177/1474474019890319
Short article about the ways in which Minecraft embeds settler colonialism ideology in its mechanics. I consider Minecraft to be a primary specimen of a Frontier game. Grotto engages with the frontier mode through an emergent narrative about Czech immigrating to Texas to serve as laborers and homestead, contrasted with nationalistic Czech folk legends about the establishment of a homeland.
- Craddock, David L. Dungeon Hacks: How NetHack, Angband, and Other Roguelikes Changed the Course of Video Games, 2015
A useful history of roguelike/dungeon games that offers an excellent history of the the earliest videogames of any kind, also notable since several of the first game developers profiled here started work at UCLA.
- Cull, Laura. “Caves, Caverns and Dungeons: Speleological Aesthetics in Computer Games.” In Performance Studies, edited by Bryan Reynolds, p.119-136. London: Macmillan Education UK, 2014. http://link.springer.com/10.1007/978-1-137-46315-9_11
A games studies article that establishes ideas about occluded maps in games and dungeon/cave aesthetics, which may be useful to refer to.
- Fordyce, Robbie. “Dwarf Fortress: Laboratory and Homestead.” Games and Culture 13, no. 1 (January 2018): 3–19. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412015603192.
A useful games studies look at Dwarf Fortress as a game that allows experimentation with structures and processes usually overlooked as implicit in simulation games
Fordyce, Robbie. 2021. “Play, History and Politics: Conceiving Futures Beyond Empire.” Games and Culture 16 (3): 294–304. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412020962430.
Giovanni Battista Piranesi, John Howe, Philip Hofer. The Prisons / Le Carceri. Dover Fine Art, History of Art. Dover Publications, 2010. http://gen.lib.rus.ec/book/index.php?md5=95ac1903975b66f0bdf9b1ee2c5168d1
Prior artwork– A series of 16 prints by the Italian artist Giovanni Battista Piranesi. These drawings are a sort of visionary architecture of impossible forms, constituting vast prisons and vaults, aesthetically harmonious with the sort of generated dungeons explored within roguelike games.
- Juul, Jesper. Half-Real: Video Games between Real Rules and Fictional Worlds. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2005
A potentially useful Game Studies survey text.
- Ossuary. Československý Filmexport, 1970
Jan Svankmajer’s film of a visit to the Ossuary of Kostnice in the Czech Republic, narrated by the steward of the Ossuary as she scolds a field trip tour of children. In orienting myself as a player and character in my own game, I have imagined myself both as a denizen of my dungeon and as caretaker and tourguide.
- Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. Chichester : Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Academy ; John Wiley & Sons, 2012.
A polemical text towards a phenomenology of architecture that de-privelages vision.
- Pipkin, Everest. “Soft Corruptor.” Cordite Poetry Review, August 1, 2021. http://cordite.org.au/poetry/game/soft-corruptor/
Prior Artwork, Soft Corruptor is an unfolding poem about a child’s conception of the spaces within videogames and the space of the home.
- Ruberg, Bonnie. “Straight Paths Through Queer Walking Simulators: Wandering on Rails and Speedrunning in Gone Home.” Games and Culture 15, no. 6 (September 2020): 632–52. https://doi.org/10.1177/1555412019826746
An article connecting Ahmed’s Queer Phenomenology to ostensibly Queer videogames. The exploration of a domestic space made strange is the starting point of my game Grotto and of the game Gone Home which is critiqued here.
- Short, Tanya X., and Tarn Adams. Procedural Storytelling in Game Design. Second edition. Boca Raton: Taylor and Francis, 2019
A practical game design text that discusses methods of procedural generation and storytelling in videogames.
- Sicart, Miguel. “Against Procedurality.” Game Studies 11, no. 3 (2011)
When I suggest that games have ideologies embedded in their rules, that should not be interpreted as my saying that their meaning solely resides there. Sicart loosens a formalist interpretation of games to re-emphasize the subjective nature of play that is also so important to me.
- Soleri, Paolo. Arcosanti : An Urban Laboratory? San Diego, Calif: Avant Books, 1984
One of the texts referred to in my article The Arcology Mode, which may find a more formal exploration in my thesis writing.
- Wiggins, Wiley. “The Arcology Mode,” 2022
Prior writing about future imaginaries, visionary architecture and videogames. Submitted to Flat Journal, available on request.
- Wigley, Mark, and Constant. Constant’s New Babylon: The Hyper-Architecture of Desire. Rotterdam: Witte de With, Center for Contemporary Art : 010 Publishers, 1998
One of the texts referred to in my article The Arcology Mode, which may find a more formal exploration in my thesis writing. These texts single out visionary architecture proposed as a ‘laboratory’, a cause I think games are naturally suited to.
- Zhou, Emily Alison. “Digging and Sinking and Drifting: Allison Parrish’s Machine Poetics - Journal #117 April 2021 - e-Flux.” e-flux. Accessed February 21, 2022. https://www.e-flux.com/journal/117/385623/digging-and-sinking-and-drifting-allison-parrish-s-machine-poetics/
Much of the descriptive surface of Grotto is text, and the nature of much of this surface is unstable, composted truths blended with fantasies. It should be elusive, without authority, spoken from many mouths. As a result I’ve used markov-chained generative texts from specifically selected corpuses for these “descriptions”. Allison Parrish is a poet who I have studied with and who will serve on advisory committee, and this is an introduction to her work and methods.
- Zylinska, Joanna. Perception at the End of the World (or How Not to Play Video Games). Flugschriften, 2020
A game studies text that introduces some concepts related to perception and videogames, which may be useful.