Month: October 2018

Project 2 – Magical Canvas

Artist Statement

My game appropriates the art in Magic: The Gathering cards. I love the art of MTG cards, but during normal game play the art doesn’t serve a functional purpose. I took some influence from Richard Prince’s cowboy picture in which he cut the text out of the cigarette add to make a nice picture. I took inspiration from this in deciding that ignoring the text on the cards and only looking at the art was the goal of the game. I did not feel like it was worth cutting out the art as by leaving the art in the card frame makes the game playable by anyone with magic cards and means you can use any cards without worrying about ruining their monetary value. I also think the act of deliberately having to ignore the normally important text brings the contrast between my game and standard game play. This further highlights that his is not normal use for the cards. 

The game is also made cooperative as the idea of taking a medium normally used for competitive play is a worthwhile contrast to make. Collages and tapestries are often collaborative works and represent a shared story. I took inspiration from Hausmann, Baader and Hoch and their photo montages in the Munich Dada scene. Though they didn’t make collaborative works, the montages are collections of pictures or words that make new pieces of art and appropriate other pieces of art. The end result of playing “Magical Canvas” is a montage of magic cards that tell a story. It takes many different artists and puts their work together into a new story.

I think my chosen appropriated material works well for my game and my purpose. Many people have some amount of Magic cards around their house, and this gives these old, often forgotten, cards a purpose. By giving the cards that most people toss aside as bulk commons and uncommons a new meaning, my game gives people something to play that uses all of their cards by re-framing how you use them. Both play tests of my game led to wild and unpredictable stories, and the ad-lib nature of the stories it makes lets them be free and honest expressions.

Play test overviews:


The first play test led to some on the spot rules changes from the original rules. The group came together and told a story of the bugle rock concert led by lead bugle player Johanes and his tree drummer Kimmothy. The cops showed up and shut it down with their sniper and the attendees scattered while the place burned down. One of the fans, Jeremy, joined the cops and fought a burning Kimothy until Johanes came to save the day. Johanes and Jeremy experiences a flash forward in a moment of hesitation in which they saw their future child and then rode off into the sunset to get married.


The second play test started with the burning of the flowers by the flower hating king. A dragon appeared and helped burn things but a brave fire-immune knight showed up and beat the dragon with a spear of flame. Her wife showed up to congratulate her and was immediately killed in the next card in a true “bury your gays” moment. I ended up losing track of the story as multiple plot thread then appeared and the group jumped from story to story within this world all branching from the original setting.


Final rules

Magical Canvas



  • 1 deck of magic cards of at least 60 cards with no lands
    • Each player may bring a small deck of 30+ cards for personal use, but there must be a shared deck for the table.
  • 5 different land cards


Preparing the Deck

  1. Take bulk magic cards
  2. Pick at least 60 cards with art you like
    1. If you would like to have artistic consistency for your game, pick cards from the same set or block. Feel free to mix and match as you please.
  3. Put them into a deck without any lands
  4. Shuffle the deck


Preparing the Tapestry

  1. Shuffle the 5 land cards
  2. Place them face down on the table in any arrangement with no two cards touching
  3. As a group, decide on which card to flip face up. This is the starting location of the story



  1. Everyone draws 5 cards from either the shared deck or their own personal deck
  2. Starting with the player who has most recently taken a picture for social media, play progresses to the right
  3. When it is your turn and before you play a card from your hand, you may put on card onto the bottom of the deck and draw a new one
  4. Place 1 card from your hand onto the tapestry
  5. If the card is touching a face down card, flip it face up
  6. Using only the art on your card, describe what new part of the story the art represents. You must incorporate any cards that it is touching into the story.
  7. When you are done telling the next part of the story, draw a card and play passes to the next player.

Ending the Game:

The game is over when you finish the story. Take a picture of the canvas to remember the story and then shuffle all the cards back up returning them to their original owners.

Tips for Storytelling

  1. Follow the “yes and” rule. Don’t take your turn to subtract from the story. Use each turn to add new elements.
  2. The art represents some part of the story. Just because the actual character in the art may not be the same between two cards, you can take artistic liberty and decide that it IS the same character



Iteration Process:


Originally I wanted to mimic how tabletop RPGs have a GM style character and wanted to create someone to act as the DM. However, when we got into storytelling it didn’t pan out well and the natural evolution of the story flowed better when everyone had the same power over the story. Additionally, rules to discard and draw once during your turn were added to help rotate cards out of your hand based on how the story was going. Instead of having to have a “dump” round, it became apparent that players should be able to discard a card. If I were to iterate on the discard mechanic again, I think I’d like to test revealing the card you wanted to discard and if someone could add it to the story on the spot in a clever way, they get to draw an additional card to increase their hand size. With this change I’d like to test 3 card hands with the ability to grow up to 5 or 6 cards. Overall, I think removing the “adversary” role made for a better experience and led to more fun and creative stories.



Original draft


A game for 2-5 players



  • 1 Communal Deck of Magic: The Gathering (MTG) Cards
  • 1 Adversary Deck (A smaller deck of MTG cards)
  • 1 of Each Basic Land Type (Plains, Island, Swamp, Mountain and Forest)
  • Each player may instead bring their own deck of cards to use in place of the community deck


Preparing the Communal Deck:

  1. Grab a bulk box of MTG cards
  2. Looking only at the art of the cards, pick a variety of characters, creatures and spells.
  3. For thematic consistency, pick cards from the same set/block. Picking cards from different sets/blocks can be used to create mash-up worlds and stories.
  4. The deck should be curated down to no more than 60 cards, and should not include land cards


Preparing the Adversary Deck:

  1. Grab a bulk box of MTG cards or an existing themed deck (Commander decks work well for this, especially ones that follow a theme)
  2. Looking only at the art of the cards, pick a group of creatures and spells to represent the trials in the story.
  3. The deck should be curated down to no more than 15 cards.


Preparing the Canvas:

  1. Pick 5 land cards to act as settings. Shuffle them together
  2. Place them face down in any shape you please
  3. As a group, pick one face down card to be the starting setting and flip it face up



  1. The host of the game draws 3 cards from the adversary deck
  2. Each other player draws 5 from the communal deck (or from their own deck)
  3. Play starts with the host.



  1. On your turn, play a card from your hand onto the canvas.
    1. The text on the card does not matter, only the card art needs to be taken into consideration.
    2. The card must be touching a currently face up card.
  2. If the card touches a face down card, turn that card face up.
  3. Expand on the current story by describing what happened when you played your card. The story must include the story events from all cards it currently touches.
  4. When you are done with your addition to the canvas, draw a card from the appropriate deck (communal if a player, adversary if a host).
  5. Story control passes to the right.


Ending the Game:

  1. The game is over when either the adversary deck is empty, or the story has reached a satisfying conclusion.
  2. Take a picture of the canvas you created as you told your story.
  3. Shuffle all the cards together and return them to their original owner.


Tips for Placing Cards:

  1. The character on the card does not matter if you are not using it to establish a character.For example, if you had a knight and then a card showing a different knight fighting a monster, you can tell the story as if they are the same character
  2. Use the position of the cards to help you tell the story. For example, if you could use a card depicting a sword to arm a knight, or you could turn it upside down and “stab” the knight with it.
  3. Follow the “Yes and” rule of improv. Always build onto the story instead of undoing whatever was done most recently.

Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos

Artist Statement: Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos

This works intention was to appropriate a childhood game and incorporate adult-life concepts into the gameplay. The childhood game modified for this project was Hungry Hungry Hippos and the concept from adult life was dietary restrictions. I represented prominent symptoms of four human dietary issues through the certain penalties players receive when consuming colored pills. For instance, lactose intolerance is known to cause diarrhea/flatulence, this is represented by the player disposing of half their stomach contents before tallying up points.

I was attempting to change a fast paced game of greed into a slower game of timing a strategy. This was well accomplished after eliminating the hypoglycemic diet. That diet penalty was activated when it did not eat a certain food so it was incentivized to eat more, rather than the other players who were penalized for eating voraciously. Without that intense energy stirring the pills, all the players were more forced to be more cautious when consuming. A strategic element of timing developed which slowed the pace of the game. Players also discovered new ways to manipulate the hippo head. They found stages in its opening depending on how hard you pressed down on the button which they used to help manipulate which pills fell into their mouths.

Balancing the amount and type of pills in play was going to be a main issue to work out. For the first iteration of playlets attempted to work out a decent balance between the pill types by working out percentages and ratios of probability in respect to each hippo. After play testing, slight adjustments were made by one or two units to polish off balance.

My piece Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos comes from the vein of fluxes artists reinventing classic games while weaving in a new narrative or alternate meaning. Yoko Ono’s “Play It By Trust” is a prime example by altering the colors of the classic game Chess to reflect a more serious theme, the pointlessness of war. My piece follows a similar structure by appropriating the classic game of Hungry Hungry Hippos and changing the colors to reflect a new meaning found in adult life.

Appropriation Game: Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos

Game Contents:

  • Game base
  • Four hippo heads and bodies
  • A malleable Clay/Putty substance
  • 43 Marbles
    • 20 Normal Red marbles
    • 23 food marbles
      • 5 Yellow
        • Peanut
      • 5 Pink
        • gluten
      • 6 Black
        • Sugar
      • 6 White
        • Milk
      • 1 Blue
        • Cure-all

How to set up: Start off with all the food units in the eating zone. Fill up each marble release aria with normal (non food) red marbles

How to win: Whoever’s hippo gains the most points after 6 rounds wins.

Rules: Every hippo has a unique dietary restriction. Depending on the diet, the player will receive a penalty upon consuming food units that negatively correlate with their diet. The hippo that collects the one cure-all (blue) marble will not be affected by their diet for that round.

Hippo Diets:


If consumed 3 or more sugar pills in one round, all red pills don’t count

(Symptom: increased thirst and hunger, frequent urination)

Lactose Intolerance

If consumed any milk pills, lose 1/2 of points gained that round

(Symptom: diarrhea, flatulence)

Anaphylaxis Shock

If consumed any peanut pills, pass out for next round

(Symptom: anaphylaxis shock)

Gluten Intolerance

Stick a quantity of putty equal to the size of the pink pills consumed in the stomach of the hippo.

(Symptom: bloating and abdominal pain)

How to play:

Before playing, the players pick dietary issues at random

Once that game begins all the hippos can consume the colored pellets. Once all pellets are consumed, the eating phase ends.

The players then check the contents they have collected. Every pellet counts as a point. Dietary penalties are activated in this phase if a hippo eats a pill that interferes with their diet.

After six rounds the player with the most points wins



Not so Hungry Not so Hungry Hippos underwent 3 iterations. The changes between iterations improved major balance issues and changed the functions of certain diets to bring gameplay closer to a reimagining of Hungry Hungry hippos.

Changes from Iteration 1 to Iteration 2

-Replaced hypoglycemia diet with diabetes diet

-Why: During play-tests, hypoglycemia was at an unfair advantage because it received a penalty for not eating enough sugars. Essentially punished for not eating enough, where the other players were forced to play more cautiously because they can not eat certain things.

-Added 2 more milk and 1 more peanut pill

-Why: To improve balance between the players

-Changed the punishment of anaphylaxis-lips from sticking putty onto the hippos lips too putting putty in the hippo’s stomach.

-Why: The weight of the putty was too much for the hippo eating mechanism to perform effectively, it was too much of a disadvantage.

Changes from Iteration 2 to Iteration 3

-Renamed the ‘anaphylaxis-lips’ diet to ‘gluten intolerance’ and the Strawberry pill to the Gluten pill

-Why: The new rule of putting putty in the stomach of the hippo is more accurate to the sensation of bloating found in gluten intolerant people.



  • The play testing video below depicts usual gameplay.
  • The play testing video below is when the hypoglycemic hippo was passed out for a turn. This reflects the more cautious gameplay I discussed.


Artwork 2: Appropriation Game

Appropriation Game: THE SHIP OF THESEUS


  1. A Judge is picked for the round. For the first round, the oldest player is made Judge. After the first round, the winner of the previous round becomes the Judge
  2. The Judge selects one of the groups of pictures and passes them out to players.
    1. All of the pictures are separated into groups based on what they represent. There’s four copies of the Mona Lisa, Four copies of the Birth of Venus, etc.
  3. Players are given one minute to transform their image the most while alternating their image the least (The most change with the least effort)
    1. Players can use the tools provided (Colored Pencils, Colored Markers, Felt Stickers), as well as whatever tools they also have (Pens, Scissors, Glue, etc.)
    2. Players can also alter the image physically (rip, fold, etc.)
  4. Once the minute is up, players present their transformations to the Judge
  5. The Judge goes through them all and determines which one they think best meets the criteria
  6. The Judge selects a winner, and returns their transformed image to them. The other transformed images are placed in a discard pile. The winner then becomes the next Judge, and the next round starts.
  7. After all of the pictures have been transformed, players see how many rounds they have won by counting through all of the transformed images they had returned to them. The player with the most won rounds wins the game.

Artist Statement:

The Ship of Theseus is a party game in the style of Apples to Apples in which three players are tasked with transforming pictures of famous paintings the most, while also doing the least amount of work or effort to transform said image. A judge then picks the piece with they think best meets the criteria, and the player with the most rounds won wins the game.

The Ship of Theseus is less a game with appropriated elements and more a game about appropriation, asking questions like “When does something become art?”, and, more specifically to this game, “when does one piece of art become another piece of art?” To a lesser extent, the game is also a critique of the legal processes that affect the art world, because in the end, the guidelines for rulings are vague, and it’s up to a judge to make the final decision.  

The two major inspirations for the game are 1.) Richard Prince and his body of work, and 2.)The Ship of Theseus Paradox, the game’s namesake. The Ship of Theseus Paradox is a metaphysical thought experiment which goes as follows:

The hero Theseus sails his ship into battle, and afterwards it is placed in a museum in the city of Athens as a memorial. After many years, the boards on the ship begin to rot, and one by one the boards are replaced until, finally, none of the original boards remain. Is the ship that’s in the museum now the same ship that entered? If not, when did it change?

This conundrum of identity also affects the work of Richard Prince, whose entire career has been based on the grey zone between altering an existing piece of art and creating an entirely new piece of art. Prince’s 2008 series Canal Zone, and the subsequent legal battle between Prince and the photographer whose work he appropriated, was the main inspiration for the goal of the game.

The images that players appropriate in The Ship of Theseus also draw inspiration from other famous appropriation artists, such as Marcel Duchamp (specifically L.H.O.O.Q., 1919) and Andy Warhol (Mao 91, 1972). On top of that, some of the other art featured (Mona Lisa, The Sistine Chapel, The Birth of Venus) was chosen because, on top of them being famous, they are the kinds of work that the Dada movement was responding to.



Appropriation Show and Tell

My example of appropriation is the following 40ish second video/sound clip originally titled “I like the it”, the addition of “you want eat food in america having been made when it was uploaded to YouTube.  It is considered inspired by/related to “wurds”, a series of image macros containing intentional typographical errors meant to be read phonetically as if they were spoken with an exaggerated speech impediment. The soundclip does this with the names and “catch phrases” of 9 different popular american fast food franchises, effectively playing on popular knowledge of many established entities. Such a stark subversion of every-day set pieces results in a surprising amount of hilarity. This is why I chose this example; it presents an exceptional example of the power of the “remix” or even just a different perspective can have on one’s perception of even the smallest amounts of the world.

The Only Human Defense Force

My current design for this game has deviated a bit from my proposal, so here’s what I’m currently working with:

NOTE: It may enhance your experience to play The Only Human Defense Force before reading about it.

The player finds themself partaking in a game that appears, for all intents and purposes, to be Space Invaders. They are given basic controls (move left, move right, fire) and told to earn points. Aliens advance down from the top of the screen, firing regularly, while the player shoots them down. There are no barriers to hide behind (mostly because I didn’t have the time to program them). The player has three lives.

The first indication that something is off is the score: the player earns no points for killing an alien. By itself, this might seem like just a glitch.

When the player dies or kills all aliens, they are taken to a GAME OVER screen, with a tally of LIVES LEFT and LIVES LOST. However, these tallies display seemingly impossible numbers: 2 lives left, 55 lives lost, for instance. After a moment of thinking, the player may realize that each dead alien is tallied as a lost life.

In addition, the GAME OVER screen displays a message for the player. In order, depending on how many times the player has reached this screen, these messages are:





These messages prompt several realizations. The aliens will try to flee after enough of their number are gunned down, for instance. They only fire as many shots as the player fires, never more. And if the player waits and refuses to kill them, one will eventually fly down to make peaceful contact. After this event, the player earns a single point and  is taken to a victory screen that reminds them not to worry too much about earlier failures. After all, they are only human.

It is my hope that this game will inspire players to think about their reasons for responding to situations with aggression and the biases they hold that cause them to do so. Why did they interpret the aliens as aggressive before they had fired a single shot? Why did they not notice that the aliens were only firing in response to their actions? By examining questions such as these, we may be able to break out of real-world cycles of violence with other humans.

Influences  include art games like Mike Builds a Shelter, which inspired an exploration of unusual win/loss states, as well as the Extra Credits episode on Missile Command ( and every movie ever where humans overreact to peaceful aliens (Avatar, Arrival, etc.), which always make me angrier than they have any right to. Pretty sure Undertale’s use of traditional gaming motifs in a pacifist narrative has gotta be mixed up in there somewhere, too.

I was really challenged in making this game to find the balance between adding enough explicit Meaning™ that the audience would catch on, while not beating them over the head with a preachy hammer of pacifism. I’m not sure yet if I’ve succeeded.

Download the game here: The Only Human Defense Force

Appropriation Show and Tell: Countdown (Snuggie Version)

For our appropriation show and tell, I chose a video made by YouTube user Ton Do-Nguyen. He performed a full rendition of Beyonce’s “Countdown” music video wearing a snuggie. The video, and a comparison to the original, can be found here:

I chose this video to showcase appropriation, as it is transformative, yet not so much so that it parts ways completely with the appropriated work. In the video, Do-Nguyen replicates not only Beyonce’s actions but also copies the editing of the original video perfectly. This presents the viewer with a very recognizable work, which allows the contrasts between this video and the original to shine through. The fact that the subject of the video is a boy in a snuggie sharply contrasts with the iconic pop star of the original. The backgrounds of Do-Nguyen’s version look very much like a basement/parts of a house, giving the video a charming, homemade look, as opposed to the vibrant, polished backgrounds of the original. I think this video is an excellent example of how to appropriate a work and make it your own while still giving tribute to the original.

Ed Sheeran’s “Photograph” vs. Matt Cardle’s “Amazing”

My choice for the appropriation show and tell ended up being the use of notes and rhythms by Ed Sheeran in “Photograph”, copying Matt Cardle’s “Amazing.” In it, you can clearly hear the same note pattern from Cardle’s song in Sheeran’s, just sped up and an octave higher.

Here is a video playing the chorus side-by-side with each other, and you can clearly hear the resemblance:

I’m very interested by this because it seems to be one of those “big fish vs. little fish” battles. Matt Cardle, a former X-Factor winner, is not nearly as big as Sheeran is. Sheeran can easily win this battle popularity wise, as people won’t pay nearly as much attention to Cardle’s song. A lawsuit was filed over this by Cardle, which was settled out of court for $20 million.

This, to me, seemed suspect. Sheeran has the resources and the money to fight this and probably win out of sheer money and power alone, but he decides to concede. In my opinion, this seems to be an admission of guilt by Sheeran. It also sort of makes you wonder: did he expect a lawsuit out of Cardle? Did he include the bit knowing full well that he had the money to pay whatever Cardle wanted and still turn a massive profit off of it? These sort of situations beckon these questions, questions that likely will never be answered.

Appropriation Show and Tell: Jeff Koons

Jeff Koons is an artist who regularly runs into plagiarism lawsuits. The contrast of the outcomes of two lawsuits helps illustrate the difference between plagiarism and transformative appropriation.

The first example of this from the Roger v. Koons suit:

Koons exactly copied Roger’s personal photograph in a sculpture, which sold for a high price. Roger wasn’t credited or given any of the profits. He lost the lawsuit on the grounds that his “parody” argument was weak and that the work was not transformative enough to qualify under a free use creative license.

Meanwhile, this painting by Koons was deemed transformative, because even though he copied another photographer’s work, the collage element and possible cultural statement fell under free use in the eyes of the court. There’s a thin line (at least legally) between appropriation and outright plagiarism, and Jeff Koons walks that line even if he often crosses it in some people’s eyes.

Images from:

Appropriation Show and Tell: A Bad Lip Reading of Catching Fire

I chose the youtube channel Bad Lip Reading to represent my example of appropriation for the class. More specifically, the video “OBSIDIOTS: Live From District 11” — A Bad Lip Reading of Catching Fire” the artist takes this strategy of appropriation and explores the concept to a whole new level. The idea of bad lip reading in its core strips footage of humans talking and dubs new and usually comedic dialog. This specific video pushes the ideas audio and video potential to new heights. From the appropriated footage, Bad Lip Reading produced a full song which the hunger games characters performed through various editing techniques. Clips were repeated and played back and forth discreetly to keep the viewer immersed and the new footage believable. The creators introduced new visual elements, and slight warm color grading, to transform the original melancholy stage to a pop concert. Image 1 shows a side by side of the original footage to the appropriated piece. The notable differences are, the guards were given instruments, a concert banner was hung, and a mic was added for Katniss. These unextravagant changes established a new sense of environment vastly different from the original intention. The creators also brought to life the performance of the main characters by adding new moving body parts which can be seen in Image 2. 

Image 1

Image 2

Pop Music Mashup (Appropriation Show and Tell)

My choice for the Appropriation Show and Tell was the music video made by currently deactivated YouTube account TopperMusic15, in which they too snippets of pop music videos created by famous artists and combined them all together into one singular piece.

The appropriation in this piece is obvious, the scattered and broken up parts of songs by artists like Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Fifth Harmony, Nick Jonas, Selena Gomez, and many others. The fragments of songs are picked apart and then sewn back together into a new song. It doesn’t make too much sense, lyric-wise, because it’s a Frankensteinian mashup, but the sound flows well between snippets and the video fits the song it came from, unless an action is being performed in the video clip that extends past the end of the sound.

This song is entirely appropriated from other sources and it is the best example of it’s kind that I have found.