“One of the most difficult tasks men can perform, however much others may despise it, is the invention of good games and it cannot be done by men out of touch with their instinctive selves.” – C.G. Jung
What does Jung mean in this quote? Why would other despise the invention of a good game? Is it that games require instincts and ‘men’ are in denial of said instincts? Is it because it is one of the hardest things to do? I can only imagine that Artists will resent this quote.
I will agree with Jung. I think that good games are very hard to create. They are hard to create in large part because they requires that the designer understand that instinctive something about themselves. Its fascinating that Jung did not say that good games required good rules or mechanics. Instead he said it was about self-knowledge, and not just any kind of self-knowledge – instinctive self-knowledge.
But isn’t Art also about self-knowledge? A way to explore one’s self? Jung had this to say:
“Art is a kind of innate drive that seizes a human being and makes him its instrument. The artist is not a person endowed with free will who seeks his own ends, but one who allows art to realize its purpose through him. As a human being he may have moods and a will and personal aims, but as an artist he is “man” in a higher sense— he is “collective man”— one who carries and shapes the unconscious, psychic forms of mankind.” – C.G. Jung
Art is something that seizes the person, it is not about instinct but about being commanded by one’s muse. I believe that Jung sees that Art and Games comes from two different places. Art is the unconscious and psychic coming to form while Games is the playing and simulating of one’s instinctive self.
How are these different? I would speculate that Art is driven by an innate need for expression & exploration while Games are driven by an instinctual need for survival & control. In the first you give up control to your passion, in the second you figure out what can be controlled and how.
Games are fundamentally about measurement, and because of this they can be about survival. If you don’t save enough excess food for periods of poor yields, you would die. If you do not budget properly, you would become poor. Measurement has a multitude of uses and its alignment with power is well illustrated. When measurement is combined with understanding, then it leads to transformation. The Play of Measurement is an emulation / simulation of real world or a fantasy world.
And it is fantasy that is where we see of art and game mix:
“The dynamic principle of fantasy is play, a characteristic also of the child, and as such it appears inconsistent with the principle of serious work. But without this playing with fantasy no creative work has ever yet come to birth. The debt we owe to the play of imagination is incalculable. It is therefore short-sighted to treat fantasy, on account of its risky or unacceptable nature, as a thing of little worth.” – C.G. Jung
The fantasy/imagination can be anything and does not need to be about elves, magic, and laser cannons. It can take place in literature or a video game. It can be a deconstruction of a personality or simulation of a love affair. Regardless of their surface disposition, fantasy/imagination gives rise to its two children:
G A M E S & A R T