Game Developer Pippin Barr on Playful Creations

New Zealand-born Pippin Barr might just be the most prolific solo game developer in the world. Since 2011 he has released a baffling 81 of them – and while many are just snapshots or thought experiments, what they lack in length and pixel count they more than make up for in provocation and wit, Chris Allnutt writes for the Financial Times.

Barr is a comedian (he’s also, at 44, associate professor in the department of design and computation arts at Montreal’s Concordia University), but his stage is virtual, his jokes are puzzles and his audience anonymous. Take Sisyphus, first released in 2011. Players, like the doomed king of Ephyra, must roll a large boulder up a hill until it inevitably tumbles back down, whereupon they start again. “It’s a joke about games and doing these pointless things over and over again that are not actually that difficult to do,” Barr says. “But you do it anyway because the game told you to.”

Challenging both human and hardware is at the centre of Barr’s new book, The Stuff Games Are Made Of, an entertaining unpacking of the systems and quirks behind game design, illustrated by the oddities of his own works and a smattering of video game history. His background in computer science, the subject in which he completed his PhD at Victoria University of Wellington, informs his expertise, but this is no dusty academic slog, Allnutt writes. And nor are his creations.

Original article by Chris Allnutt, Financial Times, August 7, 2023.

Tags: game design  gaming  Pippin Barr  Sisyphus  The Stuff Games Are Made Of  

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