Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sift Wheat From Chaff: Towards Culling Not-Games From Gaming

I'm seeing the institutional incompetence too common in tabletop RPGs is now present in videogames.

The tell? The production of things that call themselves games, but are not.

A game has a few defining characteristics:

  • A defined scenario, putting out what the playable space is and what constraints bind it.
  • A defined objective- a win condition.
  • Limited resources--including time--to achieve it.
  • Systems for interaction between player(s) and the situation as it develops.
  • Defined loss conditions.
  • No reliance on narrative or other non-gaming practices to produce a satisfactory experience as well as to avoid detracting from same, because the point is to challenge the player, to see if he can face adversity, and then to see if he can adapt and overcome to achieve the objective.

This is why the classic arcade games of the 1980s get such long-standing loyalty. They do all that very well, as do later followers such as Ikaruga. It's also why Storygaming is so corrosive; it replaces facing challenge as a player with experiencing a pre-set narrative. The former is inherently and always active and requires facing facts as they are; the latter can be a passive thing and relies on getting their feels validated.

Are getting proper games this year? Yes, and some of them are coming from the big boys. I am not claiming otherwise.

I claim that there are "games" that are not actually games, some of them getting big hype from the Usual Suspects, and this year's E3 showcases had more than a few we're expected to believe are proper games instead of tech demos, frustrated novelist bullshit, or glorified toys. These need to be identified, called out, and ridiculed into leaving the stage. This is the gaming world; sell your toys, your movies, your not-games elsewhere. Stop lying.

Look at who's pushing these not-games, and claiming that they are claims, and you'll see a positive correlation to SJW convergence in gaming. Not just videogames, but also tabletop games, but the greater prominence of videogames means the problem is worse there; I think it is useful going forward to start splitting the not-games (and the not-gamers that push them) from the games and gamers. This slicing out of the rot will be beneficial going forward, as it will focus energy and attention on the roots of gaming once more, which lead to a healthy hobby and business down the road.

1 comment:

  1. Bradford,

    Thanks I sorta get it. I remember playing a game in the arcades called Tank or tank battle. Basically it was a futuristic tank battling against other funky looking tanks.

    There was no story telling it was find and blow up the tanks before you got blown up.
    You had 3 tanks and a limited time.

    I enjoyed it a lot and I didn't need a story to play.
    Same goes for chess.

    So IF you need a story make it very brief and then send the players to play the game to win or some other challenge. But if you don't need one don't create it because you can. The game's the hook not the story.




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