reading notes #1

  1. After reading the taxonomy of game definitions, I found it’s hard to reach one common definition that applies to every circumstance. There are always some exceptions since game designers nowadays consistently come out with new ideas to break the routines. For instance, the “conflict” doesn’t really necessary for simulation games, music games and puzzle games. And the invention of sandbox games like Grand Theft Auto, which provides as much freedom to player as it could, undoubtedly stands as an opposite to the traditional “rule limitation” game definition.

Probably because almost of the games I’ve played were digital games, so I would agree more with Chris Crawford’s definition that the “Interaction” would be the core concept of how we defining a system as a “game.” “The Stanley Parable” (PC platform) and “Until Dawn” (which came out last year on PS4 platform) work as perfect examples of how indispensable the “interaction” is in game systems. “Until Dawn” was met with a positive critical response upon release, with praise directed at the visuals, ‘choice’ mechanic, horror elements, music, characters, voice acting, and gameplay design. Most of the criticism of the game drew concerned the second half of the story, the camera angles, character movement, and the game’s partially linear plot, which correspond to “cause and effect” mentions by Chris.

  1. Due to the large diversity of game types, it’s tricky to define all the games with a common “definition.” I would define game as “A system/world/universe has it own rules and brings the player the sense of identification between him/her and protagonist, and requires active participation and decision making of players.” Participation is the element that I think indispensable for a decent game. One of the most compelling things about games is the sense of identification between the player and the protagonist. From the real-world philosophical perspective, we are what we are, but in game philosophy, we are the protagonists that we controlled and we have to participate, depending on the needs, the protagonist could be different creature in one game. Sometimes I find myself wondering a question that what makes games more enjoyable and intriguing to me than fictions and films. The answer is because the interaction and participation contribute to the sense of identification. Instead of observing the content from the third party, we actually make decisions for our protagonist and participate in plot-development in order to attain the goal. So I think the reason why the game is more intriguing and interactive than fictions and films. I really appreciate that the game designers arise the utopia from nothing and give them lives. Additionally, morality for the game is not necessary and game could provide players with unlimited freedom that they could vent their emotions without taking any responsibility. For instance, in simulation game “The Sims”, a man could do what he is prohibited to do in the real world like attacking a stranger in the street if he wants without taking responsibility. So the irresponsibleness of the game also provides people with satisfactions which one could not gain in the real world.
  2. I would agree that almost of the games are essentially designed base on “puzzle solving” part. No matter how distasteful that we feel about the puzzle solving part is, we have to go through all of the obstacles that intentionally set by game designers. Sometimes too much puzzle-solving parts would make a game static and distracting rather than intriguing, and therefore lead player turns to pure action game like monster hunter which does not contain any puzzle-solving element in the game.

Game is often objective, although there are some examples like “Sim City”, after I playing it, I recognized that there are no ends for the game. Because the characters do not really have lifecycles, the game seems endless to me as the simulation only allows me to repeat the life day. Kind likes a toy, but I’m ok with generally people define it as a game.

As I highlighted in the previous question, I would totally agree with the games demand participation of players. “Games provide a set of rules, but the players use them to create their specific consequences.” Game designers design the theme of the game and allow the players to compose the piece by themselves.

“A game is a form of art in which participants, termed players, make decisions in order to manage resources through game tokens in the pursuit of a goal.” Even though the system itself does not provide players with any goal, players themselves could still design their own goals and turn the objective “toy” into a game.

Narrative, like a “theme” is similar to Costikyan’s definition of color, as Molopoly being exampled in the article, different themes make the game more appearance to players even though it is still the similar game content. Here I would mention Monster Hunter again as pure successful action game that without a strong narrative. The whole game does not consist with any compelling narrative since there is almost no storyline and the only purpose of some narrative is to unlock new hunting missions. Poker is another example that the game could be successes without any strong color or theme. Undoubtedly poker is still popular even after hundreds of years it was designed without any “color” decorations. Depending on the types of games, the lack of narrative doesn’t subject games deadly but sometimes help players focus more on the essence of the game itself. It is undeniable that both color and theme add more elements to the game, but the fact is that they are not that indispensable.