Ballsy Moves

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Billing itself as "the worlds [sic] first piece of online conceptual video game art" (sorry, Jodi!), the Naked Game presents a simple in-browser version of Pong designed to play itself endlessly. Below the game itself, Scottish designer Stewart Hogarth has placed images of lines of code that can be toggled off and on, tweaking the play in real-time: the ball's movement can be limited to the x-axis, or one paddle can become motionless, for example. A simple, almost elegant premise: what's more confusing here is how seriously we're supposed to take Hogarth's claims that he intends "to further explore the degree to which video games can be considered 'Art', by using the constituent parts of a well known gaming experience to explore themes of freedom, restriction, and frailty," which reads suspiciously like a poker-faced imitation of artist's-statement-speak. More likely, Hogarth- the self-proclaimed "bedroom-based homebrew game developer" behind a series of arcade-style casual games- intends to poke fun at the perennial discussions of games-as-art that surge through indie gaming boards on a regular basis. While puncturing art-talk pompousness is always welcome, the joke underscores an unfortunate division between the nascent world of independent gaming- currently entering a boom potentially congruent to that of independent film in the 60s or American independent music in the 90s- and the parallel realm of new media art. The question remains of why such a chasm exists- what social codes, so to speak, keep us from generating and maintaining our own back-and-forth of meaningful conversation. - Ed Halter