Let’s PLAY – Video Games and Indie Game: The Movie

Indie Game: The MovieLet’s PLAY – Video Games and Indie Game: The Movie

By Sara McGuyer, Board Member, Indy Film Fest

I grew up during the dawn of Atari and Nintendo. I couldn’t even wager a guess on how many quarters I pumped into Galaga at my local burger joint, hoping to get on the high score board. As much as I loved the adventure and puzzle-solving with Link in the Legend of Zelda, I began to abandon these games as I got older. In place of multi-level, princess-saving games (read: the ones that take a long time to solve), I feel lucky now to squeeze in a brief bout of Words with Friends.

Then I caught Indie Game: The Movie, a documentary about independent video game developers at SXSW. Canadian filmmakers Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky took me right back to that sense of wonder and play I got from those early video games. Not only that, the film exposed me to a whole new side of the gaming world. These games aren’t created overnight – some, as seen from the story of Phil Fish of Fez, can be many years in the making with unexpected road blocks and design changes along the way. Also featured in the film, Edmund McMillen and Tommy Refenes of Super Meat Boy put personal relationships and health on the line to meet their development deadlines. For the love of creating that playful experience for gaming fans, these developers take big risks and the journey is much more emotional than you might expect.

Indianapolis International Film Festival is very pleased to bring Indie Game: The Movie, presented jointly with the Indianapolis Museum of Art and sponsored by the Canadian Consulate, to Indianapolis on May 23 at 7 p.m. at IMA’s Toby Theater. The festival warmly welcomes Spirit and Place Festival as a promotional partner, as this film fits nicely into the annually changing theme of PLAY for the 17th festival, taking place Nov 2-Nov 11, 2012. Prior to the film (4 to 6 pm) there will be some big screen gaming, with new games in The Toby and old-school games in DeBoest Lecture Hall.  Then, attendees are encouraged to meet up with members of Horrible Night gamers group and International Video Game Developers Association Indianapolis from 6 to 7 pm for some interesting discussion about gaming. This event also features special guest, Consul General Roy Norton.

Recess at Risk

Recess at Risk

By Ruth Hinkle, Spirit & Place Festival Intern

The Joy of Play

The Joy of Play

I’m swinging back and forth, higher and higher, chatting with my friends as we pass each other in midair. Other seventh graders are shooting hoops, playing foursquare, or just talking to each other. I’m not sure any of us knew how lucky we were to have recess in middle school. Given The Orchard School’s dedication to hands-on and experiential learning, it’s not that surprising. But most pre-teens in Central Indiana don’t get recess at all.

In our last post, Cassie Mills wrote about the The Importance of play at Workplace. So, it’s obvious that play should have a presence in schools, right? Apparently not! In fact, recess is in danger at schools across the nation. The Center on Education Policy tracks the effects of policy on schools nationwide. According to their 2008 research on No Child Left Behind, 20% of all schools reduce recess time alongside other classes. Worried about budget cuts and ever increasing pressure to pass standardized tests, too many educators have forgotten that playing is essential to development.

In addition to relieving stress, recess allows kids to play freely which helps them hone their social skills, teaches them how to solve problems on their own, and keeps them physically active. According to data gathered by the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids have lost 12 hours of free play time per week since the 1970s. Kids today just don’t have the time. Between long school days and extracurricular activities, like dance class or soccer practice, kids have less time for unstructured play.

I’m glad my school recognized the importance of recess and outdoor play. But how do other Indy schools match up? Are your kids in danger of losing recess at their schools?





Does Play Belong at Work?

Does Play Belong at Work?      

By Cassie Mills, Spirit & Place Program Assistant

The “Googleplex” of Google’s headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland. Photo Courtesy: yourworkpace.ca

In my research for this year’s Spirit & Place Festival theme, Play, I have come across a surprising amount of books and articles that discuss the benefits of incorporating play into the work setting. There is a growing trend of large companies creating “play spaces” in their offices to benefit their business.

Companies such as Google, Zappo’s, Red Bull, and our very own Eli Lilly and Company are challenging the structure of the traditional work environment. For instance, some companies such as Red Bull and Google have put in huge slides that let their employees have a fun way to arrive at meetings in half the time. These companies have created fun and unique work spaces that include actual play rooms, lounge areas, and fitness centers that allow their employees to relax, move, and interact with each other outside of the board room.

Research has proven that there are many benefits from incorporating play into the workspace. One of the most important advantages is that it boosts employee morale, which in turn helps reduce stress, significantly increases productivity, and enhances creativity. The companies mentioned above have proven that creating playful workspaces can be used as an effective corporate strategy to not only enhance employee productivity, but to also recruit talent. Companies that have a playful work environment report high levels of employee retention, therefore saving them money in employee turn-over.

You don’t have to put in a slide or a firepole in your office to create a fun atmosphere. Here are some simple tips for making your office more playful:

  •  Plan informal social gatherings such as potluck lunches.
  •  Engage in friendly banter with co-workers.
  •  Create a fun atmosphere with bright posters, pictures, and cartoons.
  •  Maintain a positive attitude, no matter how badly your day may be going: it’s not always easy, but it can create a big difference in how your co-   workers interact with you. It may also inspire others to have a happier attitude at work!
  •  Add jokes to start off staff meetings, or ask staff to share something funny that happened to them in the last week.
  •  Find a reason to celebrate: birthdays, company milestones, the completion of a big project – the possibilities are endless!

Do you incorporate play into your job? If not, how might you get more joy out of your work? We’re eager to know your thoughts! We invite you to join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Examining the Controversy of Nude Art

Examining the Controversy of Nude Art By Melanie Wood

(This is a re-post of a post that originally appeared in Melanie Wood’s blog, posted Nov 12, 2011)

Recently I attended “Unclothed: Exposing the Art Nude,” an exhibition and panel discussion held at the Stutz Building as part of the Spirit and Place Festival. Given the nature of the topic, I didn’t expect a big turnout. Despite having a vibrant art scene, Indianapolis isn’t exactly the most progressive city. I was really excited, however, to see a standing room only crowd and to be part of a fantastic, thought-provoking discussion on what can be a truly divisive topic.

The first question posed to the panel was about Indianapolis’ community standards. We know we aren’t Paris, New York or LA, but where do we stand on the issue of nude art? Shannon Linker, director of artist services at the Arts Council of Indianapolis, brought up a good point: we haven’t really had any major controversies to help us figure this out.

The only recent example in Indy is Fred Wilson’s proposed E Pluribus Unum sculpture. The controversy isn’t related to nude art, but rather the depiction of a freed slave. Someone also referenced the 1987 photograph Piss Christ, which depicts a crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine. Many people were outraged over the image without even seeing it. To me, that’s the heart of the problem with people who condemn “controversial” art: You can’t criticize art without participating in it.

The panel kept circling back to a central question: where does the controversy come from? It doesn’t come from the art itself, but rather from the outside, from the person interpreting it. Certainly when artists create a piece, they have a specific message or theme in mind. But when that piece is displayed, it’s like a blank canvas. Everyone who views it can experience something completely different and take away a different meaning. It’s one of the reasons I love art.

If a piece of art makes you uncomfortable, it’s likely because it draws out some discomfort that already existed in you. You may not even realize it’s happening, but art is often like a mirror – we project our thoughts, emotions, fears onto the piece and it reflects them back. Nude art especially can make us uncomfortable because, as noted by panelist Tim Ayers, teaching pastor at Grace Community Church in Carmel, it exposes our vulnerability.

A gallery exhibition of nude art work was on display at the event. The most poignant piece was a black and white photo called Symmetry by Gary Mitchell. In the photo, a woman in her mid-20s is sitting spread eagle, completely nude, with everything on display. The best part? Her expression. She is completely unashamed. If you felt embarrassed or disgusted by the photo, I would argue that it says less about the photo itself and more about you and how you may be ashamed or disgusted by your own body and/or sexuality. Personally, I was jealous. I admired her extreme confidence.

It’s an interesting concept: is art inherently controversial or do we project controversy onto it? Does nude art make us uncomfortable because we are in some way uncomfortable with our own sexuality? The panel also raised questions about desire. It’s natural to be turned on by nudity, even if the piece isn’t sexual in nature. But does the desire come from the art itself or the interpreter? Is it even possible to remove desire from nudity? If nude artwork is not explicitly sexual, does that make it less controversial?

There’s no simple, easy answer to the questions raised during the panel but they’re certainly interesting ponder in the broader discussion of the place of nude art in Indianapolis. And that’s exactly what good art, controversial or not, should do. It should create discussion and leave room for interpretation.

So what’s your interpretation on the controversy surrounding nude art? Share your thoughts below!

Body Language

Walter Biskupski

Body Language By Walter Biskupski

Our bodies speak
In that universal language
Not needing translation.

The still stance of wariness,
The soft curve of love,
The widened eyes of envy,
The flushed cheeks of embarassment,
And the smile of understanding.

The body as it spins
Expresses joy