Creative Play #3: Farmville Pixel Art

Above is a video of pixel art made out of colored bales of hay in the popular Facebook game Farmville. At the 2011 Game Developer’s Conference, Ian Bogost delivered a rant against social games. His main goal here was to counter a common claim made by the developers and supporters of Facebook games, which is that, despite the low quality and exploitative design of these games, players find ways to work within the constraints of the system to be creative. Farmville pixel art is one of the primary examples cited when people want to “prove” that Facebook games encourage player creativity to flourish. Of course, one way to counter this would be to say that these blatant, simple copies of already popular art are nothing but kitsch. Bogost goes further, making a wider-reaching point about the relationship between constraint and creativity in play:

“Even if creativity comes from constraint, there’s constraint and there’s incarceration. A despot in a sorcerer’s hat does not deserve praise for inciting desperate resilience.”

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About Simon Ferrari

Developer relations guy at Indie Fund. Producer and adjunct professor in the NYU Game Center.
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