My background with games

This post is an excerpt from my e-mail to Austin Yarger.

During my teenage years I mainly played The Legend of Three Kingdoms (sanguosha). It is a very popular board game/card game in China, where I first learned about multi-player game theory (dynamic balancing) and character designing. I did some DIYs of hero abilities where I considered how that ability fits the hero’s characteristic, synergies with other heroes and adjusting strength for the purpose of balance using mathematical models.

I never owned a console so I played a lot of mobile games in high school. Simogo games (Year Walk, Device 6) impressed me with their interactive storytelling that is only possible in the medium of game. Osmos is another one that incorporates physics laws(gravitation, momentum) in a game which fascinate me. Monument Valley is similar that incorporates geometry projections.

When I entered college I started to play games on Steam. The Witness revealed to me the process of how we learn the world. It refers to so many books and thoughts of the great minds on perceiving the world that I have not yet finished its extended reading. To the Moon, on the other side, showed how game can be a form of art of self-expression, and its sequel, Finding Paradise did even better.

Jenova Chen is my idol, partly because his artistic games and the philosophy of game as an instrument of conveying human emotions, and partly because he graduated from SJTU(the same university I went to in China) and came to study in the US, a life path that I can partly identify myself with.

Generally, in the current period of my life, I feel very curious about this world, in particular, how we perceive it, dissect it and understand it at each level of abstraction, the introspection of my existence and purpose for life. I think AI and games are two things that helps me investigate that. In games, I am mainly focused on indie games that are either artistic or comes with a profound system with emergence. As Jonathan Blow puts it, games build interactive systems we can experiment with and facilitate human thinking. I am willing to commit myself to that aspiration.