A discussion about experimental gameplay or games as art, often deteriorates into a discussion of the definition of the word game. Many people insist on using a rather strict definition of the word to avoid having to form an opinion about different forms of play and interaction.
I get so tired of that.
Games have been around for thousands of years. I don’t see why we need to discuss them anymore. They are a known fact, a well-documented craft, a historical art form, etcetera. Everything there is to be known about games, is already known.
Or is it?
It seems to me that there’s actually very little books about games that were written before computers. There’s Huizinga, and there’s Callois. And probably one or two hippies. And that’s it. For an age-old artform that strikes me as very little.
But since computers, we’ve seen an explosion of books, guides and documentation. Is there perhaps something about computer games that is not covered by the age-old game-wisdom? Something that does need to be discussed?
I think so.
There is something about computer games that makes them infinitely more compelling than traditional games. At least for a part of the population. It is not the gameplay. Because gameplay can be found in many non-computer games, in much purer forms. Only a small fragment of the group of computer gamers also plays chess or board games. And very few of them play those with the same dedication as computer games.
So please. Stop nagging about goals and rules and missions and levels. They are clearly completely besides the point!
Let’s start discussing the things that make computer games different from traditional games! There’s a lot of things to be said and researched and discovered and discussed on that terrain. The ancient craft of game-making can take care of itself. Let’s talk about the things that really draw people to computer games.
It’s quite vital. We know next to nothing about those things. We don’t even know what they are.