I’m considering to officially join the legions who are sick of the games-as-art debate. Because I am sick of it too. But not for the same reason. I’m sick of games. I’m sick of the endless debates on how we’re supposed to achieve something deeply meaningful by making people play with puzzles or achieving fake goals by adhering to arbitrary rules. Let games be games. Let them be fun. Let them be playful. Don’t weigh them down with all sorts of demands of meaning. Let them be frivolous, meaningless, brainless fun. Please.
This is about much more than games! We have this wonderful technology, the computer. It is capable of doing so many things. And one thing it does amazingly well is serve as a medium for entirely new experiences. Interactive experiences, non-linear adventures with creatures that seem to be alive, strange lands to explore and things to discover. Making you feel like you are somebody else in another place, another time. The Holy Grail of any art form that has come before. The thing that all paintings, all poems, all architecture, all opera, all literature and all films have wanted to be for centuries!
And what do we do with this medium? We make games!
In fact, we obsess about making ever more intricate little puzzles, with ever more clever little mechanics to make people feel ever so smart when all they did was follow rules and obey commands. It’s decadent! It’s wasteful! It’s negligent! It’s a shame!
Imagine that caveman down in Lascaux finding pigment and a wall and drawing a grid on it to play tic-tac-toe! Imagine the farao’s in Egypt deciding to make Tetris instead of pyramids! Imagine Botticelli putting his canvas down on a table and move some pawns over it instead of painting The Birth of Venus! The shame! The horror!! Yet, it’s exactly what we’re doing with the interactive medium. We have this incredible technology -almost like magic-, this wonderful medium! And all we do is sit there and throw dice with it.
Let games be games. And let’s move on.