READING NOTES #1

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

The author’s definition for game, the one we would be refereeing to whilst reading the book, appeals me the most. “A game is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome.” The definition is the simplest and most concise way of defining game without over explanation and leaves out unnecessary subjective information.  This definition of game allows me to narrow my thought processes on the initial creation and design of a game without the distractions of making the game pretty, or if the game will be a cultural fit for our society. In other words, I feel that this narrowed focus that the definition provides is needed when brainstorming new games by not putting limits on our ideas.

 

 How would you define a game in your own words?

A game is where people, or players, participate in a competition that is organized and led by set rules in which the players must follow to achieve a goal.

 

 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 do agree with most aspects of Costikyan’s definition of games although there are only a couple of his ideas that I have qualms with. His aspect of role playing is too narrow. When he states that players cannot “ham it up” when dealing with digital characters, such as in World of Warcraft, in comparison to playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends is something I disagree with. I believe that you can “ham it up” with the actions of your character in the game. The RPG games that I’ve played, such as Skyrim, or Fallout, etc., give many opportunities to express ones characters attributes in the game. Although you will not be putting on an accent and screaming at the top of your lungs, you can exaggerate characteristics with in-game actions. I also believe that puzzles are games. Puzzles, although static is a game within itself. The game Portal is a perfect example of this. The entire game is a just a bunch of puzzles and it is considered a game, and an amazing one at that.

I do agree with his statement that some games should be considered “toys” like SimCity. Second life is another example of this. Second life is a TOY. There are no goals in the game except the ones that you create within it.

Costikyan’s points out that the narrative of a game should create tension to keep the audience’s attention and I 100% agree with this, although, the fun factor of a game does not always coincide with the narrative. Grand Theft Auto typically has an amazing storyline and plot and this can keep you intrigued throughout the game until the end although, when I have the most fun is when I’m just screwing around in the sandbox world and not following the narrative. In this sense, a game that utilizes a sandbox style world can become a toy and be more fun for the audience that wants to create their own goals.

I also agree with Costiyan’s view of color. He states that a game should evoke an atmosphere and pageantry of its setting to be more engaging for the player. When I play Monopoly I tend to lean towards versions of Monopoly that I find more interesting than the original because I like the universe that a version is emulating more. Although I’m not likely to play the original version more than others doesn’t mean I do not like Monopoly. The game itself is inherently fun but the “skin” of the game can help to make a game more engaging.

The idea of opposition, or competition, in a game helps to make a game more engaging as well. Costiyan strives for more struggle in games and I agree with this. The difficulty of a game can make a game more fun and interesting. One becoming good at a difficult game or overcoming a major struggle in a game boosts one’s satisfaction in said game. The video game Dark Souls (which I have yet to play) is notoriously difficult. When I hear my friends brag about how they got passed a portion of Dark Souls that is nearly impossible I can hear the satisfaction in their voice. Chess is a game where the difficulty is exponential depending on the player and we know how pompous Chess masters, or even amateurs, can be.

I also agree that games should be considered art. Even the games those are not necessarily visually stunning like chess, or backgammon. The design and the creation of these games is an art form in itself. The forging of rules and parameters in which people play is art.