Craft and Punishment

Craft & Punishment: The Art and Craft in Game Design was a curatorial undertaking by myself and James Morgan and acted as the spiritual cousin to Learn to Play 1 & 2. Craft & Punishment asks the questions: Is there a dialog between art and craft in game design? Where does such a distinction lead? Is digital pain the new pleasure?

The focus here was on the blurring line between art-games and indie-games during the indie-renaissance and retro-revival of the last decade. Where Learn to Play focused on art, Craft & Punishment examines craftsmanship, polish, and the return of the auteur. The show looked at the intentional backlash against AAA titles and the movement away from mass appeal to masocore. The selection of pieces runs the gamut from calm to brutal, from traditionally challenging to mentally taxing, and looks for players with desire for punishment.

Craft & Punishment ran from January 31st to February 24th 2011 at the Evergreen Valley College Art Gallery in San Jose, CA. The show's opening reception featured an artist talk by indi-game designer and critic, Anna Anthropy, creator of Mighty Jill Off. Notes and slides from the talk are available on Anna's site, auntiepixelante.

Exhibiting Artists

Ian Bogost
A Slow Year
Gaijin Games
Anna Anthropy
Mighty Jill Off
Jason Rohrer
Sleep is Death
Terry Cavanagh
Jennifer Lau
Michael "Kayin" O'Reilly
I Wanna Be The Guy
Jonathan Blow
Mark Essen
Amon 26
All Of Our Friends Are Dead
Jonatan Söderström (Cactus)
Arnt Jensen with Playdead Games
Paul Robertson
Devil Eyes, Kings of Power 4 Billion%, Pirate Baby's Cabana Battle Street Fight

An Evening with Jonathan Blow

Award winning game designer and outspoken critic, Jonathan Blow, gave an artist talk as well, after the show's conclusion. He answered questions from the San Jose State Game Development Club and talked about the design process for Braid and beginning work on The Witness. The full talk is divided into three segments.

Play Part 1 | Play Part 2 | Play Part 3
Recorded by John Bruneau
April 21st, 2011

Opening Photos

by Jennifer Lau

John Bruneau 2020