Each year, the NYU Game Center commissions new work from four artists for No Quarter, an exhibition of games. The 2019 No Quarter artists were Karina Popp, Marie Claire LeBlanc Flanagan, Michael Brough, and Xalavier Nelson Jr.. No Quarter Curator Charles Pratt briefly interviewed each of the artists about their process of making games for No Quarter. You can read all of the interviews here.
Marie Claire LeBlanc Flanagan is curious about the spaces between people and technologies, especially spaces related to expression, and connection. Marie delights in making tiny play experiments. Marie founded Wyrd Arts Initiatives, Weird Canada, and Drone Day and has worked with The School of Machines, Making, and Make-Believe, A MAZE., and a number of other communities focussed on play, people, and technology.
In addition to being a No Quarter Artist, Marie was the Game Center’s Artist-in-residence for the fall 2019 semester. For her No Quarter work, Marie made Follow, a game that asks, “What is following, anyway?”
Charles Pratt, No Quarter Curator: What was on your mind when you started designing your game?
Marie: Spaces between people. The mirroring of adversaries. The strange intimacy of opposition.
Were there any challenges that you ran into that you didn’t expect during your game’s development?
A continuous stream of choice and compromise between the thing(s) I would enjoy playing and the thing(s) I thought most other people would enjoy playing.
What was your approach to designing for No Quarter in terms of the event and the audience?
Having never been to No Quarter, I asked a lot of guests and part artists about their experiences. People said it is loud, rowdy, social, inebriated, and fun. People told me that they have gone for years and never played a game. People told me they spent most of their time waiting in line watching other people playing. People told me it is extremely loud and that people get very drunk.
Follow is designed to be easy to try, easy to watch, and accessible to a wide range of people. Follow makes space for a specific kind of play between people. I took some chances with the project specifically because I heard the audience was generous and open to experimentation.
Could you describe some of the practical considerations that were part of your process?
Noise, light, accessibility, the way all technical things must break on exhibition day. Designing for a wide range of people. Designing for people on the periphery. I felt strongly I had reached the point I was looking for when I had some non-games people (game-hating people) playtest and enjoy the experience.
With Follow, I tried to make space for intimacy, to invite people to enter a specific kind of kinesthetic space with another person. But not too much intimacy! Intimacy invites vulnerability and openness. I’m careful about designing towards these states when people are surrounded by intoxicated strangers.
How do you feel like your No Quarter connects to your other work?
Follow continues in the space I was exploring with Closer (a continuously cooperative game for two people) and Common (a game I built for an entire city). It wildly diverges from some of the more intimate things I’ve build recently, specifically The Dream Room, and The Escape Room.
Event photos by EMiSpicer. See more of her work here.