In "Gtopia: Game Site", we choose 19 Chinese game works that bring outstanding experiments and breakthroughs in these creative aspects. We will step back to the beginning when game artists and designers have nothing but a whimsical idea in their heads, and see how these ideas go through the steps of prototyping, iteration, testing, user generation, and so on; Spatially, the exhibition split up the architecture, characters, art, animation, text, narrative, levels, and subsystems of the selected game, to see how each part of the final giant system looks like, as well as the tension and buffer within the system.
Before defining video games in the abstract and broad sense, "Gtopia: Game Site" tries to scrutinize games in a concrete historical context, dissecting them one by one as information processors and cultural entertainment embodiments. At the same time, the exhibition also extends the field of research and exhibition to include people, organizations and systems that make games: the R&D company (Coconut Island), the independent publisher (indienova), and the social media platform (TapTap) that directly links games and people through algorithm.
Today everyone is talking about games, but we are not always talking about the same thing. We usually start with a certain game, a certain type of game, a certain era of game. As the conversation goes, soon we will find ourselves separated from each other by mountains and seas.
Perhaps we should not be surprised about the miscommunication: video games have already been there for 40 to 50 years. No matter what specific games the conversation focuses on, we are bound to miss certain people, technology, culture, financing, history, and anecdotes.
For this reason, Gtopia: The Game Site does not aim to provide a systematic framework, nor does it take a macro view of the "game" mammoth. Instead, we look at everyday life and focus on the 19 popular indie games on Chinese people's phones and computers in the 2020s. What are these games? Why are they here? When and where were they born, and how many people and events did they pass through before coming to our electronic devices? These games meet us in one live site after another, and "Gtopia: Game Site" is to lift the curtain and look inside, showing the whole system and subsystem of development, production, distribution and consumption, as well as some anomalies scattered outside the system.
Needless to say, video games are naturally the creator's creations first, and the game site is the site of imagination and productivity. The game is codes, pixels, words, light and shadow, the blessings of creative talents, and the curse of crunch. The game is also something for players, live streamers. The site of the game begins with each play, replay, match, collaboration, viewing, and the memory of it. Essentially, video games are make-believe in the forms R&D, promotion, localization, e-sports, second creation, modifications, cross-media ...... a game is always in the process of being born, reborn, cloned, uninstalled forgotten, copied and paid homage to by its spiritual descendants.
Further along the path of media archaeology, games are born within a certain lightcone where software, hardware, network, skills, inspiration, history of technology, history of design, history of art intersect come together; games are born within a special point in time and space: a particular invention of engine, a certain upgrade of graphics card, an opening of a new platform…
Games are also born outside of games, as game studies scholars Patrick Lemieux and Stephanie Boluk detail in Metagaming: Game is not just a system of rules and target rewards and punishments in the Magic Circle, but all the contingent and inevitable historical conditions that spawned, shaped, and subverted it.
The best site for our "meta-game" of anatomical games is the contemporary art space. It is another site, another set of methodology and language, another playground. While the game builds a legend in an illusory dimension, the gallery also presents spectacles day after day. Both spaces are half real third spaces, which only occasionally intersect and are basically parallel. Gtopia: Game Site" attempts to break the boundaries and introduce these imaginative twins into each other's context..
Connected or stand-alone, video games always need to constantly create and maintain the illusion of an otherworldly world, transforming the binary code of 0 and 1 into a fascinating and lingering world through the engine, text, sound, performance, graphics, touch, technologies and creativity.
In "Gtopia: Game Site", we choose 19 works that bring outstanding experiments and breakthroughs in these creative aspects. We will step back to the beginning when game artists and designers have nothing but a whimsical idea in their heads, and see how these ideas go through the steps of prototyping, iteration, testing, user generation, and so on,; Spatially, the exhibition split up the architecture, characters, art, animation, text, narrative, levels, and subsystems of the selected game, to see how each part of the final giant system looks like, as well as the tension and buffer within the system.
Looking beyond individual game works, "Gtopia: Game site" turns the backstage into center stage to foreground independent studios and distribution and game communities– the basic units of creative production. From idea to prototype, from engine to screen, from R&D studio to internet cafe, the site of games is also the site of people, and let's see how we meet.
This is the first time in China to move quality games for the public as live items, cultural works and research objects into the art museum for cutting reproduction. Following the concept of two thematic design exhibitions in the past decade at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, "Gtopia: Game Site" presents games as important participants in contemporary culture and art life that cannot be ignored. At the same time, the exhibition also experimentally introduces game making itself into the exhibition hall, capturing the disappearing production relationship and production process crystallized.