Origin Stories showcases some of DMG members’ first games, drawing critical connections between these artists’ early experiments and later work.
With Origin Stories, we wanted to achieve three things. The first was to provide our members a chance to revisit, recontextualize, and update their first game art work. We were curious to see how artists had grown over the years, and what revisiting their first-ever game could highlight about their growth as artists and collaborators.
The second was to contribute to the preservation of Ontario-created video game art works. Each selected artist was supported through the process of updating their game and planning a (sadly, pre-empted by COVID-19!) gallery exhibition. It was critical to provide time and space to investigate how modern operating systems have made DIY games obsolete and how and why we might want to treat these projects as an expression of an idea over time rather than a static artifact.
Some artists involved in Origin Stories had access to their original files – some found on old game jam backup drives in the DMG archives – while others had lost track of the source code. Part of the process was to treat code as just one component of the source of the work, collecting process materials, emails, journal entries and bits of art to reconstruct or completely reimagine the original game.
Finally, Origin Stories was about creating a catalogue of works, not only to document the exhibition and to supplement archiving efforts, but also to document methods for creating immersive digital art installations in a pop-up format. Since COVID-19 closed our gallery doors, we shifted our goal from designing new spaces to play "old" games in public to a digital narrative format. Without a gallery and the assumption of social play, we were able to design a showcase that leans into the comfort of the personal experience of thumbing through a zine. This preserves our intention: thoughtful, intentional archiving of DIY games and the experiences that shaped them from our community of queer and feminist creators – tied to this moment in time.
We're so thrilled that Origin Stories accomplished all of these goals. But we learned something important about how to enable a reflective practice around a format often rendered obsolete through technical progress: A community-centered and compassionate approach requires we set aside judgement when critiquing our work, especially when it is tied up in our changing identities and view of our skills and value. The messy and halting creative work we manage to do through a global pandemic (!) holds more meaning than any output meant for others. But these bits are assembled with care for you. Peek inside these seven stories!
Program team: Jennie Robinson Faber, Izzie Colpitts-Campbell, Kaitlin Tremblay
All the thank yous in the world to our supportive community mentors: Greg Puzniak, Kae Bagg, Nuha Alkadi, Richa Thomas, Henry Faber, Tabby Rose, Gabriel Branyiczky, Finlay Paterson and Alex Martin