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One Falls for Each of Us: The Prototyping of Tragedy

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Uploaded on Aug 30, 2010

Brenda Brathwaite delivers her talk at the Art History of Games Symposium on February 6, 2010 in the High Museum of Art's Rich Auditorium on the campus of the Woodruff Arts Center, in midtown Atlanta. The symposium was presented by Georgia Tech and the Savannah College of Art and Design.

Incorporating 20,000 wooden figurines, incense and dozens of leather hides, Brenda Brathwaite's latest game is One Falls for Each of Us. Currently in development, it is the fourth game in the Mechanic is the Message series and chronicles the experience of the Native Americans as they walked and died upon the Trail of Tears. Like the other games in the series, Brathwaite uses the medium of the game mechanic much like traditional artists use paint to capture and express difficult events. It is a form of historical system design which provokes both player and designer to look and interact more deeply than they otherwise might. Influenced by the works of Jackson Pollock, Richard Serra, Marcel Duchamp and Gerhard Richter, Brathwaite's works push games in directions not yet considered. From the game's initial conception through to its current state, Brathwaite discusses the inspirations for One Falls for Each of Us and the series, recent iterations and expands upon the prototyping of tragedy.

Brathwaite is a game designer and artist who began working in the video game industry with Sir-tech Software in 1982, with the seminal Wizardry series of role-playing games. She also contributed to the Jagged Alliance, Realms of Arkania, Def Jam and the Dungeons and Dragons series and has designed games for Atari, Infogrames, Electronic Arts and a wide variety of private clients. Working completely in analog, she has crafted a series of six prototypes known collectively as The Mechanic is the Message, three of which have been completed and published. The three, Train, Síochán Leat and The New World, explore the Holocaust, the Cromwellian invasion of Ireland and the Middle Passage, respectively. The pieces, particularly Train, have received significant critical praise. Brathwaite serves on the board of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), was chair of the IGDA's Education SIG Ad hoc Committee and the co-founder and chair of the IGDA's Savannah chapter. In 2008, she was named one of the top 20 most influential women in the game industry by Gamasutra.com. She is currently the chair of the interactive design and game development department at SCAD and has been working on games for social media platforms.

Materials hosted by SMARTech, Georgia Tech's institutional repository, http://smartech.gatech.edu/.‬‬

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