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  • Jamie McCarthy

Creative Process as Game.

18th February 2015.

For me, making stuff that might be called music or art or whatever, feels like I’m playing a game. I like thinking of it this way, because it reminds me not to get too serious about it – it’s playing. At the same time I can play in earnest, but the reminder that it’s a game gives me some perspective on it.

A dance might be a game that has certain rules about the moving of bodies in space and time (or not); a poem might be a game about putting a feeling or thought into the container of a certain number of syllables with certain agreements of sound at the end of chosen lines (or not); for Beethoven, a Sonata might have been a game about how to put certain musical ideas within an organisational framework whilst pushing the framework without actually breaking it (or not); for certain 1980’s bands it might have been a game about combining a social scene, fashion and queerness within the framework of electronic music.

I thought about this whilst mulling over creativity and imagination in the process of making something; wondering where these things come into play along the way. I get the feeling that one of the places they come in is at the point of deciding what game you want to play and what rules you want to give the game (maybe also what rules to break or throw out when it suits you).

In arty activities there are more or less common games to play and if you play a game that no-one else, or few people recognise you might not get such a big audience for it (or you might). I could choose to play the artistic equivalent of football because it’s more widely appreciated, but I might (for any number of reasons) find that I just can’t or won’t do this (I might be no good at that particular game, the rules of the game might not prize my abilities, the organisations, social or financial structures around football might exclude me somehow). For any number of reasons and perhaps because I really enjoy, or am good at the game I’ve invented, I might choose to play that game instead, even if it’s not widely recognised to be a valid or valuable one.

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