Reading Notes #1

1. Costikyan’s (who is the author of the other article we read)  definition of a game appeals to me the most. His particular definition appealed to me the most because he doesn’t necessarily state that games have to have rules that limit players. This struck me the most since one of the more popular games, World of Warcraft, allows the players a sense of almost total freedom—the game proceeds with anything the players can come up with. There are rules, yes, but I feel almost as if these rules are there to standardize and streamline the game process—not limit it. I like the idea of a game that allows its players almost total freedom like that, and I feel to include a standard that rules limit players also limits the possibilities for freedom in other games.

2. A game is interactive, a game SHOULD be fun but doesn’t always have to be, a game is open in terms of the decision process, and should allow space for the players to make their own choices, a game has a goal in mind.

3.I think that Costikyan’s definition of games is pretty good. It delineates in a precise and matter-of-fact manner exactly what a game is not—and in a sense, allows more freedom in what a game CAN be.  However, do I agree that puzzles are games? This is debatable. My first instinct is to claim that yes, puzzles are indeed games. The word games has an inherently whimsical and playful quality—not the standardized definition that Costikyan sells. However, upon reading the article and thinking about the situation a little, I feel that I cannot call puzzles—or second life!—a game. In the games that I have played and seen, there is indeed “decision making” and a fervor to “manage resources in pursuit of a goal.” Puzzles are thinking “games”, but there is no interaction for the player. It is always the same puzzle every time, and once a conclusion has been reached, it has been reached. The finality of it all demonstrates that “games” like puzzles or Second Life are, in fact, not games at all. And what particularly struck me about his ideas of color is that pageantry can elevate a game to a higher status. To think, the popular party game Twister is fairly simple in it’s construction and pieces—yet the colors are so deliciously bright and candy colored, that it has become a timeless classic. As to his ideas that games should be considered “art”—well, I have to agree. What goes into a game involves a lot of emotion, time, thought, and artistic expression. I certainly can see how games could be an art form all on their own. To restrict that title simply because a game can’t be hung in a gallery or framed by a canvas, is ridiculous. Games are art, just more interactive in their form.