Worldwide Arts Society

Playable History of Art

Download: Itch.io
Twitter: Here

Release: February 19, 2021
Platform: PC/Mac/Linux
Price: Free

Developer: Antoine Ramo
Based in: Angoulême, France
Mail: [email protected]

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Worldwide Arts Society makes the modern History of Art playable

No crossover is too ambitious in this game of influences, discoveries and associations


Pitch and Key Features

Worldwide Arts Society by Antoine Ramo is an incremental deck-building game available for free on itch.io for PC/Mac/Linux. It allows you to control exactly what its name suggests: choose which artists to enroll, which currents to follow, which art forms to develop, and your arts society might soar! The adventure begins in 1799 with founding figures such as Francisco Goya or Germaine de Staël, and hits the 21st century with Beyoncé and Bong Joon-Ho. Each artist has several different effects on the society's influence, so it's all about building a viable and diverse collective with a solid synergy!

The Collection

Mechanically, Worldwide Arts Society is an elaborate idle game: you accumulate things and make numbers skyrocket with a few basic interactions. But we're not stacking paperclips here: we're gathering a team of our most beloved heroes! So we not only take into account their practical characteristics, but also our emotional or aesthetic attachment to them. It's an equivalent of baseball cards, but with Frida Kahlo instead of Babe Ruth. How isn't it already a thing?

The Discovery

Idle games typically involve a huge amount of inactivity. In Worldwide Arts Society, when you reach this peculiar state of purposeless attention and have some time to spare, there's a continuous flow of discoveries available for you to wander through. There is a total of 1000 artists from 120 different countries in Worldwide Arts Society, with women and men equally represented and a focus on overlooked or marginalized creators. Any of them could be a life-changing discovvery. A sortable list interface has been specifically designed to let you browse seamlessly through these gems and access the kind of information you're looking for.

The Simulation

Worldwide Arts Society emulates in a fanciful manner a system that is usually too organic and intricate to be grasped all at once. How do artists influence one another, and how do factors such as geography, ideas, genres and oppression impact this exchange? In-game, all of these things matter, and the reach of a given artist always depends on every single one of the others. The game can be complex; Hokusai may only reveal his true power once RuPaul has joined the gang. Yet, it is easy to play: if you just want to pick your personal favorites, you probably won't lead the fastest-growing society ever, but it doesn't matter at all: it will grow anyway!


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System

• The Artists. There are 20 different domains, ranging from painting to video games. These are unlocked one at a time. Each domain is divided into 5 distinct eras, and each era unlocks 10 artists. If you want to enroll one, 5 possibilities will be randomly picked among the unlocked artists of the corresponding domain. You may then pick your favorite, or pay to redraw if none suits you. Artists who belong to a specific current may be unavailable until you have unlocked it. Once unlocked, it can be upgraded, and the artists linked to it will have their output amplified.

• The Output. Your society's influence is divided into 4 different variables:
- Cultural impact, which allows you to unlock more domains
- Aesthetic impact, which allows you to unlock more artists
- Paradigmatic impact, which allows you to unlock more currents, and later, bonuses
- Social impact, which isn't a quantity but a gauge. It has an influence on the other 3 impacts

• The Effects. Each individual artist has 3 or 4 effects out of the hundreds available. These effects can influence artists from certain areas, currents, domains, regarding any of the different impacts. For each domain, an artist can be chosen as a trendsetter. Their peers will then amplify their effects. There is also a small number of seats available for global trendsetters.

• The Ethics. Several factors affect the gauge that measures your society's social impact: if you fail to gather a diverse group, your impact will be very limited, and may even become negative. On the contrary, if some of your artists are also activists, it may help a lot! Finally, in addition to the 1000 available artists, there are 50 shameful influences which may show up and make things difficult for you. They're icons such as Picasso, Disney, Stravinsky or Lovecraft, and they have a history of abuse, racism or fascism. If you fail to react, it will lower your social impact. If you sacrifice some aesthetic impact to banish them from the group, your social impact will rise.

• The Interfaces. In addition to the game interface, a list interface can be accessed by clicking the stats panel. It allows you to browse through your complete list of artists. You can sort it as you like by clicking any of the column titles (name, era, domain, currents, tags, gender, effects). To make the game more accessible, in both interfaces, a right click can be used to enlarge a card, or the information panel, so that it is easier to read.


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History

Worldwide Arts Society is a solo project by Antoine Ramo, a French game design student of Brazilian origin with a background in ceramics, literature studies and experimental web video. He spent seven months crafting it while following classes at Cnam-Enjmin. On spring 2020, inspired by Niklas Luhmann's Zettelkasten, he was filling a personal-use encyclopedia while playing Cookie Clicker intensively. The combination of these two activities seemed so unexpectedly harmonious and pleasant to him that he decided to discover what they had in common. Turns out it was all about sensing the passage of time, making complex things simple, creating associations and finding out what may come next. Ramo then concluded that Worldwide Arts Society was precisely what he, and possibly a bunch of other people, might need!


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Artistic Statement

As a child, I was passionate about trading card games. Although it felt like easy fun at the time, I realized as an adult and game developer that most of this fun came from a quite demanding activity: it made me process, sort, and memorize tremendous amounts of information And through this effort I had developed a very strong attachment to the universes this information described.

Worldwide Arts Society is an exploration of the very same kind of joy and effort. It is an attempt at making bits of information alive in our imagination. That's why there's no image in the game: we can't directly see the works of the artists. If we've seen them before, we use the distorted, abstract vision that exists in our head. If not, we invent one. But these personal visions only really come to life when we are given the opportunity to create associations between them. That's what we do in this game: gather people, connect images. And my wish is that while they wait until they can enroll another artist, the player lets their mind wander around these newly created bonds, and populates this imaginary space with living possibilities.

The huge system of Worldwide Arts Society brings together numerous art forms, eras, places, ideas and people, and its list interface allows to shuffle everything: change the list's sorting, and what felt very remote is now very close. What seemed separated is unified. Nations, domains, currents or traits were sealed categories, but they are now bridges. I believe association to be both the most enriching intellectual process, and the very definition of an aesthetic stimulus. With Worldwide Arts Society, I attempted to create a tool for association: something that would let the player toy around with a complex history, manipulate it, make it theirs, try things, and maybe open some newly discovered doors.

Worldwide Arts Society isn't a "serious game": it was designed for the sole purpose of entertainment. Yet, its core mechanics consist in collecting, selecting and browsing pieces of information, and it could be described as a playable encyclopedia. It resembles clickers but values the spare time it creates. It bears a strong similarity with simulations but isn't figurative (the mechanics are pure fantasy, yet the information is exact). It looks like deck-building games but is much more reflexive (cards are useful for getting more cards and have no other purpose). Finally, it brings a complex system to a level of abstraction and simplicity which may allow for a fresh perception of it.

Most games rely on a principle of accumulation, and incremental games develop this tendency to an absurdly baroque extent. Worldwide Arts Society brings radical changes to the genre in order to subvert this principle of accumulation and transform it into a principle of community. In this game, you can only enroll unique artists, and each one has a unique set of effects on the global output. These numerous effects combine, and they grow stronger as the society expands. That makes it impossibly hard to predict (or even to measure) the influence of an individual artist. It soon becomes clear that every artist matters immensely, but that their power depends on every single one of the others.

This game system bears a strong discourse on creation: it's not an individual act. Even the artists who seem to work alone actually play a part in a bigger system, and depend on it. Worldwide Arts Society was created to provoke such observations. I imagined this game as a playful meditation on Art, as a fanciful tool for its understanding, and as a fantastical journey through time, places and dreams.


Trailer


Screenshots

You can download the entire set of screenshots in this Zip file!

Tutorial: First Step Tutorial: Second Step
Unlocked Currents Banished Influences
Browsing through the Domains Enrolling Writers
Enrolling Painters Enrolling Experimental FIlmmakers
Enrolling Filmmakers Enrolling Dramaturgists
Enrolling Architects List Interface: by Nation
List Interface: by Domain List Interface: by Current

Logos

You can download the entire set of logos in this Zip file!

Background Logo In-game Logo
Stars Logo Transparent Logo