Reading Notes #1

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

Crawford’s and Costikyan’s definitions of games reflect most accurately the idea of games to me. Sales and Zimmerman do a great job of constructing their definition of Game based on their understanding and comparison of the previous definitions. The System qualities of game are most interesting to me and therefore a critical point in the definition. I am, however, also intrigued by Costikyan’s use of the word “Art” and hope to explore what this connection means in my own game design and art production. I don’t have any interest in debating whether games are art or the value of conflating those categories, but the fuzziness of the border between them is appealing.

How would you define a game in your own words?

I define a game as a voluntarily entered system of goals and rules whereby a player or players attempt to overcome obstacles toward some end.

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”?

I like Costikyan’s definition of games and agree with most aspects except the exclusion of puzzles, particularly puzzles with more than a single solution. Second life is more of a toy than a game. I agree that narrative can be used to make a game better, more engaging and rewarding and his assertion that many games fail at this. Cotikyan rightfully celebrates good use of color in games. Color can make a mediocre game playable and the lack of color can make a brilliant game seem mediocre or even bad to many players. I really appreciate his turn from the term competition to struggle. Cooperative games have become one of my favorite genres as they remove the competitive nature between players and pits them collectively in a struggle against the system instead. Definitions of “art” are fuzzy at best. One of the most wonderful things about “art” is the frequent challenges to its’ definition that happen by people who make it and talk about it. Can a game be art? Sure, but maybe not necessarily in the elevated way that Costikyan seems to mean.