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From Kindergarten to Total Carnage

Presentation on gaming by Matthew Shadbolt [1998]

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Shadbolt standing before his beloved game

“From Kindergarten to Total Carnage” was a presentation by artist Matthew Shadbolt . The name refers directly to the level of skill a player chooses when playing particular computer games. The simple and most basic level is ‘kindergarten’ and the most difficult is and usually results in ‘total carnage’.

With a large beam projection from the computer, Shadbolt guided the audience through some of the earliest computer games discussing the challenges of “Pong” where minimalist vertical lines engage in a bout of tennis in the black void. And from this very rudimentary stage in game development he moved to the more recent and sophisticated “Deep Blue” project, a computerised simulated chess partner that continues to challenge the greatest chess champions today. While laying out this history of gaming, he referred to classic representations of artificial intelligence in films such as the benign “R2D2” in “Star Wars” and the feminine mechanical body in “Metropolis”. He illustrated the dystopic image of technology by looking at “HAL/9000”, the rebellious computer in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001- A Space Odyssey” which rages out of control turning against its creator, man. For Shadbolt, these cinematic archetypes reveal our hopeful expectations as well as our anxieties with regards to the development of computer technology.