Reading Note 1

1. After reading Salen & Zimmerman’s taxonomy of game definitions. explain which definition(s) for game appeals to you most?

The definition that appeals to me the most is Crawford’s, because it highlights “safety,” or the impossibility of real harm in playing a game. In the artificial world that guarantees them from the possibility of danger, players can fully engage in their psychological desire for competition. Also, by extenuation, I think that this framework is a device for players to express the urge for competition, and sometimes violence, in a way that is acceptable for modern society.

Although this definition does have a lot of components to it, I do not believe that it is too restricting, perhaps because of the way Crawford words it. For example, he addresses the game as a system that is “representational”. Although the chart combines make-believe and representational in one category, I don’t believe these are the same things, and although I disagree with the games being all made-up, I do believe that games are a representation of something, even if not literally and directly.

However, I feel that a single definition of games is very difficult to establish, for the boundary of games is different for each person and the person’s relationship to games.



2.  How would you define a game in your own words?

I believe in a very loose definition of games. A game for me is an activity that has systems, objectives, and rules. The system is a certain ‘world’ or ‘place and time’ that sets it apart from reality. The objective is a goal, and it could be made by the game designer or the player. The rules are an ‘inefficient’ set of conventions that make it interesting to try to achieve the objective.



3.  What is your opinion of Costikyan’s definition of games, is it too broad , too narrow,which aspects of his definition do agree with and which do you disagree with? Are puzzles games? Is second life a game? What do you make of his ideas about narrative in games? And his notions of color and competition? What about his idea that games should be considered “art”?

Costikyan’s definition of games is too narrow for me, in that he begins by defining what is “not” a game before he even goes into the definition of games. I believe that puzzles are a game, because it has an objective, and the player is interacting with the designer and his intentions. I believe that Second Life is also a game, because although it does not have set objectives by the creator, its players can create objectives that he sees fit to achieve, and it is a perfect example of a system that is removed from the every-day world.

His notion of color is interesting in that by color, I think that he means the settings and world-view of the game, as well as the aesthetic choices that the designer creates. I believe that these are important aspects of a game; however, the ‘color’ of a game should always be secondary to how interesting the actual system is. Often times, in modern computer games we see spinoffs of movies, TV shows, and books that are vibrant with color but are not interesting as systems. Also, there are so many games now that have amazing graphics but fails to be interesting in its interface, objectives, and rules.

To be honest, I’m not quite sure if games should be considered an art form. Even if a game can relay a serious message, it has to be engaging for me to work as a game. I felt this when I was looking at ‘serious games’ at a guest lecture/workshop at the DMA Game Lab. I believe that a game’s main focus is to be engaging in gameplay, sometimes even at the cost of a real message or story. Therefore, I’m not sure whether games are as effective as other art forms in its ability to communicate a subjective message.