My New Year’s Resolutions

1. More Independence
2. Less games

The start of a new decade feels like an appropriate time to get ambitious. Out with the old, in with the new! Not that there’s going to be any extreme changes around here. My resolutions mostly concern a change in attitude, in philosophy. But, with any luck, they will take us further. And in the right direction.

While these resolutions have been bubbling up for a while, two things were direct triggers: Auriea’s realisation that her favourite games of the decade are all over 5 years old and our recent visit to the Belgian incarnation of the historical Game On exhibition where it became very clear how much more fun the old arcade games are than the new pseudo-narrative shiny next gen titles upon which I had based a lot of my hopes.


We don’t want to make obscure art. This is a big part of the reason why we choose to work with digital media. We don’t even want to make art per se. We just want to share beautiful moments and elegant thoughts with people who are open to them. And perhaps, in our most audacious daydreams, we’d hope to make a small contribution to a more harmonious world.

Accessibility is one of the reasons why we don’t shy away from commerce. Commerce is an efficient way to distribute things in a capitalist system. And thanks to the abundance of the digital, we can sell our work very cheaply. But commerce also has a way of confusing an artist, of holding you back. Commerce forces you to think about seduction -even when it’s not appropriate- and to favour projects with commercial potential over others that might be more relevant artistically. We like our work to be accessible. But we want that to be an artistic choice and not an economic requirement.

We’re not very good at commerce anyway. We don’t have clever business minds. And our work is just a bit too far away from the ordinary to appeal to people who do. But above all, thinking about commerce -however exciting it may sometimes be- always ends in bogging us down, to slowing us down, to depressing us.

I want us to become less dependent. Less dependent on money, less dependent on success, less dependent on quantity. And focus exclusively on quality. This includes improving the accessibility of our work! While commercial pressure may motivate one to lower the threshold of their productions, it only does so towards a specific target audience, effectively locking everyone else out. It would be possible to optimize our work to be very accessible for hardcore gamers. But at the expensive of other people we might also want to communicate with. We want our work to be more widely accessible. We don’t want to depend on any specific niche.

None of this leads to any radical decisions. This is just a resolution that can guide us when making future decisions. As of now, I want to focus on self-sufficiency. And favour non-profit or break-even operations over commercial ones. Or even figure out ways to make losing money bearable. It’s ok if that means working on smaller projects. As long as they are “big on the inside”.

Games over

This year, I’m going to care less about games. And as a result, I will probably enjoy them more.

I give up.
I give up on my hopes for videogames to become a valid cultural medium.
I’ve been fighting very hard. I’ve been putting my money where my mouth is. For several years already. Almost a decade.

But the games industry is merrily traveling in the opposite direction. Videogames are not changing anymore. They seem to have lost that capacity. Sure, the technology still evolves, so everything gets more shiny. But this is not leading to any sort of evolution, let alone the required revolution. The desire is simply not there.

Because videogames are happy just as they are. The videogame culture is extremely pleased with itself. A few years ago, people were still complaining about “sequelitis”. No everybody merrily plays Hip Shootgame #13 and Cool Jumpgame #26, with no objections. On the contrary! Everybody gets very solemn and deep when yet another war simulator hits the shelves. Only to forget it within the first week of release.

Gamers, publishers, journalists are all very happy! Who am I to spoil their fun? If they feel comfortable in a juvenile ghetto that is irrelevant to culture, good for them. I’m out of here.

Maybe this is another incarnation of my desire for independence: I want to be independent from the games industry. And from the games format.

Games are fun. Let them be fun. And let’s do something else, when we want to be serious. Let’s focus on interactive entertainment that is not games (let’s call them “notgames” for now :) ). With a technology that is so versatile and powerful, why should we limit our productions and enjoyment to the single format of games, a format that has been around for centuries and doesn’t even need computers to exist?

I realize that it has always been our mission at Tale of Tales to explore the potential of the interactive medium. But so far, this has happened in some form of conflict with videogames, based on our misguided belief that videogames had potential to grow, to grow into a medium (which, believe it our not, still seemed possible only 5 years ago). Simply letting go of the connection, will make our job a lot easier as it will help us explore with far less constraints. Leaving behind the idea that we’re making a game, opens up a world of creative possibilities!


But more than that, I want to stimulate research and development of notgames. Instead of continuously having senseless arguments with game fans, developers and theorists, I want to gather together the brightest ideas concerning non-game interactive entertainment. Without the noise and the distractions. Maybe we’ll start a blog about the subject, with news, essays, opinion pieces, debates. A place where ideas can be explored and shared and discussed. I would also like to commission designers and artists to make new non-game interactive projects. Maybe there can be a competition like those ubiquitous game making competitions, but about making interactive entertainment that is not games -far more exciting and certainly a much larger area to explore. And finally, I’m looking into the possibility of starting a sort of label -like a record label- to publish and distribute notgames.

If you would like to contribute to any of this, please post a comment or send email.

Happy New Year! :)

94 thoughts on “My New Year’s Resolutions”

  1. You’ve got my full support. So much crap comes with the “Games”-tag. There’s got to be something else we can call it… “Interactive Entertainment” isn’t going to be it – that’s carrying its own bag of negative connotations. But I don’t like “Notgames” very much either. Defining an area by saying “it’s not part of this and that” isn’t exactly spelling out “Independence”… Anyway… I’ve got this one thing that I’ve been working on for a while that’s not quite a game and I like to think of it simply as an “Experience”.

    PS: I like the lable-idea a lot.

  2. “Let’s focus on interactive entertainment that is not games.”

    Odd… I’ve been having the same kind of thought lately… the problem is, that something needs to be really good. They need to be among the best of that unnamed class of work.

    Also, I just noticed that you “not” a lot.

  3. Hi Daniel! :)
    I think “notting” is in the nature of New Year’s resolutions, isn’t it? Others quit smoking. I quit caring about games. :)

    Obviously making games is a lot easier than inventing something new. You have centuries of experience to fall back on. Games are older than cinema. Hey, they’re probably even older than painting and sculpture!

    But interactive things without the constraints of games could potentially be so much more interesting. And accessible. This being a relatively new field, a lot of work needs to be done. And rather than doing this work in the shadow of videogames (and wasting heaps of time arguing with game fans about irrelevant things), I want to concentrate on a constructive exchange of ideas and stimulate research and development as much as I can.

    We may have to start small. But something huge is waiting on the horizon.

  4. Hi, this is Sun. Sun B. Kim.

    Your resolutions reminds me of 1992 Dragon Speech by Chris Crawford. He also concluded that games never share his dream, and left games, now striving to make own vision for interactive entertainment — interactive storytelling.

    The reason I started as an indie is similar. I’m not comfortable with making onetime-fun games with same experience, and same emotions, even more in here Korea. They are not willing to make games more mature art. So I decided to make games(or interactive experience or something) that create ‘perplexing’ emotions, say uncomfortable-but-important things about our life.

    I’ll support you and help anything I can, like translation or something.

    And, I really sorry for delay on the translation. Lots of things happened to me. Even though, not emailed about it is my fault.

  5. i think this is the most upbeat and forward-thinking blog i’ve read in awhile. oh, i visit your site every few days to see what’s goin on, but i’ve never posted anything, so hello. and i wish you good luck, selfishly, because i pine for games, er, notgames? like yours and can’t wait to see what’s next. i’m surprised there isn’t more demand for interactive entertainment. ToT games are golden, and after playing all of them i found it nearly impossible to find anything as creative and original elsewhere. it’s a shame, really.

  6. Agreed! Things are mostly rubbish right now. I hope I can help to change that, and I’ll certainly try. Change can be painfully slow, and it will take the continued effort of many.

    I’m toying with the following thought: Give the current industry a couple more years of stagnating development and it might wither and die. That’s what happens to any organism or species that no longer develops, anyway. To not move, to be inanimate, is like being dead.

    Anyway, I’ll be giving the non-game label a good think. We need something that refers back to the original meanings of game and play. The first thing that hit my mind was ‘Ludites’ for players and designers, referring to Johan Huizinga’s ‘Homo Ludens’. Ludites is only one letter away from ‘Luddites’ though, and while those guys were certainly rebellious, I don’t think it is a good idea to associate with those that are scared of technological progress. 😉

  7. Hey!
    I totally get what you mean by “notgames” but I hope you mean that in terms of approach as opposed to a literal idea. What I mean is that I still believe in the game format for interactive media and there are still people like me who hope to see games (not just interactive media as a whole) evolve. I’m a firm believer that something can be entertaining and enlightening. I found The Path to be the perfect example of this!

  8. Actually, after rethinking my post: I was wrong in suggesting the use the old meanings of game and play for a new label. If you truly want something new, it’s probably best to break with them completely (like you suggested in your blogpost). Back to the thinktank…

  9. No problem, Sun. There’s no rush.

    Yes, I feel a lot of affinity with Mr Crawford, though I don’t share his rejection of the potential sensuality of the interactive medium. I don’t want to do this on my own, though, like he did. There’s just too much work to do. And it’s very difficult. This needs to be a group effort. We need to talk, and test and try things out. Many different things need to be experimented with. The stuff that we do at Tale of Tales is just one of the many possible directions the medium can go.

    Hello, Android00b7, thank you for posting! Stick around! :)

    I think the games industry has found a sort balance, Martijn. Albeit a very dog-eat-dog sort of balance. I don’t think it will go away. I don’t even want it it to. I like playing games! I’m as much of a nerd as the next guy.

    But the games industry does not have the exclusive right to digital entertainment. And I feel our societies need a new medium. I don’t believe in waiting for a demand. People seldom know what they want until you put it in front of them.

    I’m all for a return to more playfulness, but I want to stay far away from the formal aspects of games. Words starting with “lud” (like ludology) have already been appropriated by people who focus on these formal aspects. So it’s not a useful term for our purpose.

    And I prefer to focus on “homo” rather than “ludens” anyway. 😉

  10. This is all about entertainment, Ben! :) And I don’t wish a lack of evolution in games. I just don’t want to be involved with it as a developer. And concentrate instead on entertainment beyond the restrictions and demands of the game format. Maybe we’ll end up putting certain game elements in our work here and there. But I want that to be an artistic choice, not a requirement.

    There’s no need to worry about a name, Martijn. It doesn’t matter what it’s called. I hope “notgames” doesn’t stick. But for now, I think it’s a very good “working title”.

  11. “We just want to share beautiful moments and elegant thoughts with people who are open to them. ”

    Aye, I share this sentiment. :)

    “Defining an area by saying ‘it’s not part of this and that’ isn’t exactly spelling out ‘Independence'”

    Very good point. I was going to suggest “ungames” as in “undead” but that also suffers from the same dependency. :p

    Perhaps something incorporating the word “world” or “dream” or “thought” or “moment”…

    Martijn Zandvliet, the Luddites weren’t *scared* of technological progress – they were artisans whose jobs were taken away by industrialization, with little left to do but fight back. They sabotaged the machines and factories that stole their livelihood.

  12. You saying that games aren’t changing anymore makes me think you aren’t paying enough attention. Scribblenauts was a game which focused on the player’s imagination. Spider: The Secret of Bryce Manor told a story completely divorced from the gameplay while somehow avoiding ludonarrative dissonance. Aaaa! A Reckless Disregard for Gravity oozed punk joie de vivre.

    After your own post on the IGF, I’m surprised that you feel the way you do about the state of the industry. Sure, the bestselling and most-hyped games aren’t particularly innovative in an artistic sense, but giving up on games because of that is like giving up on film because Transformers 2 isn’t the kind of movie you want to see made.

  13. A name with “world” or “dream” or “thought” or “moment” would be nice. But this will become infinitely easier when there are some projects that we can point to.

    I don’t mind the reference to games. I’ve never minded the term as such. And I think the dictionary definition is broad enough to encompass what I’m calling notgames for the moment. But many purists within videogames a striving for a much more narrow definition of the term. They can have it if they want it.

    For me, the word “notgames” implies a very clear direction. It tells me that I can make anything that I want to make, as long as it is not a game. I find that a very good exercise.

  14. All right, “notgames” it is. 😉

    For now the negative, *away from games* focus is helpful, but in the long run it is of course restrictive. By defining a movement in terms of what something else isn’t, you inadvertently shackle yourself to the thing you are trying to escape from.

    We’ll see how it changes when some actual notgames get made. How were the terms “casual games”, “serious games” and “social games” coined anyway?

    Like Gregory Weir, I see your dismissal as somewhat premature, but that’s your decision. You’ve been waiting long enough. I’m fine waiting longer, myself. And I think it will help to have “notgames” arising as a counterpoint, as well. :)

  15. You are right, Gregory, that games are still evolving. I just exaggerated to make a point. But also because they are not evolving in the direction that I would like to see.

    Videogames have been evolving in many directions, but always tightly within the format of games. And I want to break out of that format. For a while I was hoping that videogames could grow beyond their roots. But I don’t believe in that anymore. We’ll simply continue to see more and more variations on that one rigid game format.

    And that’s fine. I love playing all those clever new games. But I feel a lot more is possible. And to get there, we need to abandon the requirement to make a game.

  16. Interesting discussion so far. Reading this page (and the previous blog post link to) is giving me is giving me valuable perspectives on what I’m doing as a game-designer in training. A quick thank-you to everyone who took the time to dissect what I posted and provide meaningful feedback.

  17. “For me, the word ‘notgames’ implies a very clear direction. It tells me that I can make anything that I want to make, as long as it is not a game.”

    There’s not much which can’t be seen as a game. I’m sad to hear that you’re changing the way you refer to your games. I felt that having such bold pieces of work called “games” served to set the bar higher for games, so that new indie game designers might see what you’re doing and try to emulate its passion. Separating yourselves from the terminology of games would then have the opposite effect: it would tell game designers “There’s no place for art here.”. Which is something that your past games have proven definitively incorrect! But that’s the statement you’ll be making, and it’s worrying to me. It’s like you’re saying that because the public isn’t accepting what you’re saying about games, you’ll start promoting their incorrect ideas about the limitations of games. No, wait, that’s not “like” what you’re saying, it’s exactly what you’re saying. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy of doom, that’s what it is. And it makes me very sad.

  18. And for the record, there is not one videogame format. There are many videogame formats, of which “exploration game” is the unacknowledged type you usually work in. Right now, when someone is making games, he’s free to use whatever kind of format he wants, to make whatever kind of experience strikes his fancy, because the definition of “videogame” is so ridiculously broad. And that makes me happy, because I’m making games myself and I don’t want to be stuck doing the same thing over and over. But if we start fragmenting the definition, if we say “up to this point we’ll call it a game, and not a step further”.. that limits my freedom. I’ll start doing something and try to give it to gamers and they’ll say to me, “What are you trying to push onto us? This isn’t a game. Even Tale of Tales admits it’s not a game, and they’re weird. Go away.”

  19. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and I share many of your thoughts regarding current game industry state. As most people here I like the concept behind notgames no matter what it ends being called.

    The more I think about games the more I think they will end having a similar development than cinema. With lots of big companies try to make big money by selling cheese products, occasional memorable big productions coming from those companies and passionate individuals pushing the media further and further.

    About competitions and a label seems like a clever idea.

  20. We’re at a pivotal moment in the development of the medium here. I know it doesn’t feel that way to you, because you’re dealing with it day to day and get frustrated, but it’s the truth. The Path was considered a game. It was discussed in game forums and game blogs and game news sites and game review sites, and it’s bringing a higher class of experience to people who are always being fed the same thing. So you are very much shaping the future of games. If you say this is games, this is games. We still haven’t nailed down what a game is and isn’t, and that’s why it’s a pivotal, important time and you’re right on the edge of it. And with that in mind, I am begging you. I’d get down on my knees but this is the internet and you wouldn’t see it but still I’m begging you: take the big picture into account.

  21. I’m interested in what you have to say (as usual, even if I don’t post comments much) and I definitely like most of the ideas in the post, especially the last paragraph (revolution!).

    This is despite the fact that I’ve recently started playing more games again (I’m not really sure why, it just kinda happened), though they’re still not what they used to be for me (nothing’ll ever beat the original Spyro). I like the idea of not games, seeing as they’re something different, but I think I only half get the idea of them. As in, I understand what you mean, but I just find it hard to visualise (maybe that’s just my incredible lack of perception though). Also, my personal reaction to your past projects has been somewhat mixed so I’m not sure this’ll be for me, but I still like many of your ideas and the willingness to do something new, which warrants support in my book.

    Anyway, I’ll definitely be following the progress and I may even try to contribute at some point if I can. Good luck with this!

    p.s. Having mentioned Spyro, I’m now getting really strong urges to play it, though I should probably be doing revision. Damn my replyingness! (and please excuse any incoherentness, I’m finding it hard to write exactly what I want to say and still structure it properly)
    p.p.s. I tried to post this earlier but got called a spam-bot and it didn’t seem to go through, so here it is again. (now 3rd attempt)

  22. Mory, I am not going to stop calling The Path, The Endless Forest and The Graveyard games. Even Fatale, which we never called a game (as an exercise) has very strong ties with the format of games. I want to cut those ties for our future work. I’m not going to pretend that they weren’t there in our past work.

    Feel free to continue to call our work games. I’m might even do it myself. I have nothing against the word. I just don’t want to waste time anymore fighting with people who are happy. I’m more interested in working constructively with people who are not.

  23. I don’t care what things are called, Mory. I want to stop making entertainment that relies on a structure of rules, goals and rewards. It’s about the essence of things, not about what you call them. I want to research and discover new ways of amusing our audience, ways that don’t rely on the familiar methods offered by games. I want to create digital entertainment for people who are not interested in playing games.

  24. The big picture, Mory, is not games. The big picture is this:

    Not everyone was playing games before videogames. There is no reason why they would start now just because games are played on computers now. But all people see films, all people listen to music, all people read. I want to help create a digital, interactive medium of the same scale.

    My own personal decision won’t stop the industry from evolving in whichever way it was going to. Our impact is incredibly minor. If games are destined to become a medium, then they will become one and I will have been wrong. And that would be great! But I don’t want to die realizing that I have spent my entire life trying to push things where they didn’t want to go. Especially not when there’s so much empty space out there, that nobody in the games industry is touching.

  25. Glad to see it worked, QXD-me. Sorry about our butler. 😉

    I can’t envision what notgames could be either. That’s the entire point. That’s why there is so much work to do. That’s why I want to try and encourage, support and stimulate this work. I guess it’s theoretically possible that the only entertaining thing that can be done with computers is games. But I find that very hard to believe.

  26. I think we all had lived an experience in a video game which is not link to its fun part. Withdraw the fun part of the game and you have what you are headed Michaël, so what we want is not-fun-game. I really don’t like the not-game name, because there are still games as long as we still play at them.

    I don’t understand why you are so depressed about the evolution of the video game, yes no great evolutions have been done the last five years, but what’s five years in the history of art ? Moreover, you are here, and there are some interesting indie games without fun part which have had kind of success in the community like yours or like Passage, so I still have hope.

  27. All of this sounds great, and I completely agree with you. Auriea’s list stirred up similar feelings in me. I remain a little hopeful that games can grow up, but more in the sense that I remain hopeful of the possibility that more people will realize that the appeal of games is–like other mediums–in art, aesthetics and storytelling, and that games which fail in those areas but succeed mechanically are less interesting than games that succeed as art but fail mechanically, or games that eschew art altogether.

    Yech. What an awkward sentence.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about names. It’s much more important to just keep doing what you do; practically every contemporary genre of art, music and fiction has some silly name distinguishing it from others, anyway. No one agrees on what they mean or what they apply to, and no one is much bothered by that. It’s fun, it’s useful. Maybe the same fragmentation of categories applied to games would break the trend of sorting everything by mechanics instead of content.

    Maybe not! It’s fun to imagine all that could be, but it’s better to do what you can with what’s available. In light of that, your future projects sound like a good place to be going.

    Good luck!

  28. See, even as I’m writing about people realizing that traditional game mechanics aren’t what make games interesting, Olympi goes and posts something about just that. I’m allowed to be Pollyanna for a little while longer, I think.

    But “not-fun-games” just sounds too dour! To someone who prefers to try an “interesting” experience over a “fun” one, no less.

    Besides, much of what passes for “fun” in games isn’t even fun to me, and never has been. Give me an interesting setting, characters I’d want to know or perhaps only know about, an appealing aesthetic or a story worth hearing. That’s fun. Engaging fiction or interesting art are fun. Ordinary game mechanics, as shameful as it is to admit, are usually more frustrating to me than anything else. They often even get in the way of the experience!


    /preaching to the choir

  29. So can we assume you wont be promoting on games sites nor entering game competitions? (as you note you don’t have any interest any more in their opinions and visa versa).

    Assuming not, what media and events can we expect to see you promoting your work at?

  30. This is definitely about making things that are more fun (and less work, less obeying of orders, less doing a job to get a reward, etc -as in many videogames). But tastes do differ. And what gamers find lots of fun may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

  31. That’s a good question, anon. I don’t know yet. We’ll see what feels right when we get there. I do want to focus more on quality than on quantity, and work in a not so commercial way, thus reducing the need for promotion.

    We make software. Our primary distribution medium will remain the internet. Everything else is less important.

  32. Hm. While I see what you are trying to do here, I’d be careful about limiting myself. Maybe instead of saying, “We are NOT going to do games and only Notgames,” say, “We are just going to do what feels right and what works for us.” This may mean never making a game again, or it may me making only really good, original new games, but I wouldn’t want to set myself up as someone who doesn’t make games and then one day get a brilliant, amazing idea for a project that in the end.. may actually qualify as a game. To be totally honest the tone of this and a few past blog posts have seemed a little condescending and mean towards games, and while they may not be your exact cup of tea, they still serve a purpose and can be really cool, fun time killers and entertainers, and even if they aren’t as arftul and deep as some may want.. who cares? You don’t need to say that they are bad because of this, you just need to say that you personally don’t like where they are going and to going to work on your own thing for a while. If this is all you meant to say then I am sorry, but it really feels that you are putting down the games industry because they have failed to meet your own personal hopes. If they really were all bad then they wouldn’t sell and more people would be looking elsewhere for their entertainment.
    Once again though, I see what you mean and what you are trying to do and it’s great, I love the idea of making interactive entertainment that isn’t exactly a game, but I think you are drawing too harsh a line and maybe separating yourself from what could be a great resource and inspiration.

  33. It’s not just personal, Gwyneth. I think that our contemporary societies deeply need a new medium that can deal with our complicated lives. I believe the computer offers such a medium. But I don’t believe games can “deal with our complicated lives”. As you said, games are fun and as such just fine. But that’s not enough. I believe that thoughtful entertainment can help improve the lives of people and communities. I believe that a lot of the trouble in the world is caused by the lack of an appropriate medium to discuss the issues in and understand things and find solutions.

    I draw the line harshly purely as an exercise, as a challenge: to see what we could come up with if we refuse to fall back on the old values. I think such a limitation can be very inspiring.

  34. Well, if nothing else it will give me an entertaining game to play on the side: showing you how all the things you think are totally un-game-like are actually exactly what specific games have done in the past. 😀 Games are too broad to get away from what they’ve done. They’ve done everything.

  35. Interesting blog, as usual. I would love to help you out in this respect (as I respect your innovation) but I fear we might have different interpretations of what games (or, to borrow your term, notgames) could be. I’m a storyteller. I look at video games and think of all the deep, engrossing stories I could tell involving my audience in ways movies and even books cannot. While I don’t presume to think you don’t feel video games can do that, I have personally come across several games in the last five years that I felt fell into that category. Bioshock and the Half-life series to name two. While they both have the repetitive violence I force myself to tolerate to get the story, they also have strong characters and story I crave in my entertainment.

    Still, I do agree there has been a noticeable decline in video game storytelling. Just look at what Silent Hill has become. Tragic.

    But that’s just me. The video game as an art form is very elusive to me. That said, you have a standing invitation to use any of my resources as you see fit.

  36. I would also like to offer my support and help, and would like to be part of the community. I don’t have much experience beyond interactive toys and spending a few months this year developing some “notgame” prototypes. I think going in this direction will be fruitful for me, but it’d be great to do so in a community.

    The first prototype is an interactive environment that can be explored in real-time to help visualize a talk someone is giving.

    The second one is an interactive music video that will hopefully eventually become a sort of visual instrument that could be played along with some music.

    What I’ve done so far sucks in comparison to my vision, but maybe it’ll spark some ideas?

    Also, since I’ve been thinking about the same thing for almost a year now, I’ve started to write an essay on this. For a name, the best I’ve been able to come up with so far is “virtual interactive experience,” although games could be considered a subset of that so maybe that doesn’t work for you. Obviously at its core is interactivity, so it makes sense to have that in there, and experience is the best word I can think of that has a connotation of being different than using a utilitarian computer application. And then there’s virtual to separate you from ARGs and the like and tie you to the computer. But it’s a bit of a mouthful…

    A more subversive gesture would be to use EA’s own “software art” from their 1982 ad trying to promote their indie game collective image. :) And then “interactive fiction,” which I’ve always liked but suggests a focus on narrative.

    Notgame works all right, once you understand the context. They’re systems that are simulated, interactive, and attempt to evoke emotion, but don’t use the reward systems games do.

  37. I suspect that your efforts to make, “Notgames” will be a philosophical swing that will help bring about some of your best games yet. It seems to me that you are defining, “Games” as things with qualities you don’t like, and that is holding you back. Your the artist, if you think this will help your design process, I think its awesome. And though I admit to having a strong desire to debate the philosophy of what constitutes a game, quality is what matters, not semantics. I suspect that I won’t be the only person who is happy with the innovations you have brought to gaming, regardless of what you decide to call it. As always, I will still buy and love your work, appreciate there innovations, and think critically about where they could push the envelope further. But as long as there is interactivity that has a meaning, then It will be a game in my book. And all the stronger because of it.

  38. Fascinating continued discussion in the comments, thank you. :)

    I am looking forward to seeing how this concept of “notgames” inspires Tale of Tales’ future work, and I would like to be part of this early scouting group, so to speak.

    Though right now, I’m pretty focused on game-games, and learning all I can about designing and developing those… But I’ll do my best to stay open to where this all takes me.

  39. Thank you, Anomalous. I think your ideas fit perfectly. We don’t need to reject everything that games have accomplished. We just want to get rid of the elements in videogames that are holding us back, as story-tellers, artists and entertainers. The exercise is to find new ways of motivating a player, ways that are more accessible to a wider audience, perhaps.

  40. Your work looks very interesting, God at play!
    And “What I’ve done so far sucks in comparison to my vision” is exactly the kind of attitude that we need. We need grand visions, and big ambitions. To move forward.
    It’s a mouthful indeed, but it’s amusing that “virtual interactive experience” abbreviates to “vie”, which means “life” in French. Interactivity is indeed one of those great things that a computer can do, but I think we should also remember generativity (if that’s word), meaning the capacity of software to generate realities. The computer can be our partner when we play, not just a tool that enables our games.

  41. Well done Michaël. I like the clarity and boldness of this approach and I look forward to seeing where you and Auriea go with the momentum of this new direction. Best of luck!

  42. Thank you for the encouragement, Frank. I think this approach will indeed help us focus and remove the need for endless arguments with pro-games people (like you ;p ). And it’ll help me enjoy Drop 7 even better! :)
    See you in Atlanta!

  43. There is alot of similarity between what your saying and what happened to the Pen and paper/tabletop role playing game scene a few years ago – with the 1980s D&D generation growing up and wanting a more sophisticated kind of game that mainstream producers werent making a whole homebrew indie community of game writers started appearing. As you say here, mainstream games were too scared of making innovations other than producing sequels and same stuff different genres in the field.

    People starting picking apart and theorising on the way that RPGs work and (Ron Edwards on The Forge was a pioneer of this) and starting totally changing the nature of the games.

    What happened was people came up with crazy rule systems which focussed on creating dramatic situations, making players interact in exciting new ways once you ripped away the central methods tradtional RPGs used to play their games.

    Games like Prime Time adventures which took Tv series as their que and create a dramatic base for play. Or something like Dogs in the Vineyard which forces players to take moral choices and stand by them while having a really fun escallation of action mechanic which makes you wonder if that moral choice is worth it.

    One of my faves is Bliss Stage, where players fight in giant robots but all this is based on their relationships to their characters, as they get damagaed in the robot it has fallout for their real life relationships to others.

    Now, there is a whole raft of games out there which have really pushed the boundaries of what and RPG is and small self publishers for these games. Sadly of course the cost model here is much cheaper than producing computer games, as well as the mechanic being not easy to implement without making it a multi player game…still I think theres exciting things at work there which make interactive gaming between people an amazing experience.

    You are probably aware of some of these things already, im not sure if you have come across any of these games..but I do see any move away from computer based interaction should probably have alot in common with these games.

  44. Hehe, I’m emailing with him as we speak. :)

    But Mr Rohrer has always been on the other side of the fence. We respect his work but we think he’s wrong about the expressive power of the games-as-games.

  45. I certainly appreciate the idea of notgames. It makes me think of when I was an undergraduate student in composition and so many times I had to call my music “sound art” because use of the identifier “music” just confused people. But it was music.

    “Because videogames are happy just as they are. The videogame culture is extremely pleased with itself. ”

    I’m not sure who this is, to be honest. I guess if a videogame means a console game vs. a PC game then that could be true.

    I for one have enjoyed the ToT titles, but each one leaves me wanting more. For what it’s worth, from a consumer of your work, please keep doing it….and more. Meaning grander, further, extend the vectors!

  46. We want to but we can’t. At the moment games is where the money is. It’s a small but very reliable market. Nobody wants to invest outside of it. It’s impossible to find the large amounts of funding required for “grander, further”.

    But that shouldn’t stop us. On the contrary. The better we learn how to create within small budgets, the more accessible the medium will become and the more diversity we will see.

  47. I can understand your personal frustration about game fans (game essentialists? Game foundamentalists?). But I’ve always thought one of the main strengths of your works was the cheeky insistence on the game discourse. Injecting works like the Graveyard in the game channels, pushing hardcore and softcore players to confront them *as games*, was a powerful gesture that – I’m sure – generated a lot of thoughts, blown a lot of minds, opened new perspectives…My concern is that with “nongames” you will end up in (or go back to) the comfort zone of new media art which is another ghetto, just smaller. You’ll be tolerated and loved there but only by the same twelve smart people you meet at every festival.

    About the category of nongames, I guess you’ll be compelled to justify the continuity/discontinuity with the game thing anyway. Is it just interactive art produced with game technologies? Distributed within game channels? (it would sound a little bit too technology-centered).
    Is it art that appropriates video game elements or aesthetics but rejects the academic definition of games?

    In any case, good luck and happy new year!

  48. “I just don’t want to waste time anymore fighting with people who are happy. I’m more interested in working constructively with people who are not.”
    It is such as a philosophy of life. I like your (not)games/art or whatever they are and I will support you. You’re right when you say that you don’t want to fight anymore with people who refuse the possibility of an evolution of this young media, there’s no need to do this(it would be very hard…).
    I think that when you published “The Graveyard” the audience was not ready(changes are scareful), but you continued following your own Path.
    Many people may not like what you are trying to do, but there’s a lot of people who really love your work and will support it, even if you say that you’re not gonna use the word “games” anymore.
    Good luck Tale Of Tales, and (don’t)stay on the path.

  49. Paolo, the purpose is to find a bigger audience, not a smaller one! I’m sure our games caused some valuable discussion among game fans. But that’s not enough for us. We don’t care enough about the games industry to want to cause a revolution in it. This goes much further than that.

    The unknown is the main attraction of notgames. The link with videogames is clear, I don’t mind that, but I want more people to get serious about exploring the interactive medium beyond the narrow game format.

    We might use the distribution systems for games, sure, but the whole point is to make work that is more accessible to a wider audience.

  50. Thanks for the support, Marco. We will probably still use the word games. It doesn’t matter. What matters is the liberation that comes from not having to make a game, and excitement of not relying on the old tricks of games but finding new ways to entertain the audience instead.

    We’ve always been in doubt about whether we should add more or less gameplay to our work at Tale of Tales. I think that this doubt has been holding us back and has muddled our work. Choosing for independence liberates us from commercial concerns that could be solved by adding more gameplay. We’re not interested in gameplay design, anyway. And thus we’re probably not very good at it. So maybe now, we’ll be able to put all our energy in things that we are good at.

  51. I am with you all the way! I was so excited when I discovered The Path, but to follow it here and read these words, which feel like you’ve reached into my head and pulled all my thoughts and desires out, it’s fantastic! I think we must start a movement if we want this medium to reach its full potential, because it’s nowhere near it at the moment. I would absolutely love to get involved in some projects! :)

  52. So, if you don’t make games and have stated that you’re not in the business of making games, then why do you keep comparing yourself to games?

    You can’t advance a medium by not making said medium. That makes no sense. It’s like saying I’m going to influence more people to read books by not writing books (or notbooks).

    Do you really think of your games as not games but an entirely different entity? If so, why compare apples to oranges? I don’t quite follow your logic here.

  53. If you want to create an entirely different kind of interactive medium, that’s fine. But I don’t see what it has to do with games as you’ve stated numerous times that you don’t make games.

    For example, on the TIGSource page for Fatale:

    “[…] we don’t feel comfortable designing games. I think it’s a very hard thing to do and not something we would be particularly good at.”

    And yet, you talk about the advancement of games despite the fact that you don’t make them.

  54. I understand you confusion, falsion. But I don’t appreciate your tone. What exactly are you accusing me of?

    Anyway, my knowledge of the English language is simply too limited to express these things correctly. Or maybe the language itself is too limited. So please try to understand the spirit of what I’m saying and don’t argue semantics.

    This is not about what we call things anyway.
    It’s simply a new way of thinking about interactive entertainment. New for me at least. To try and create videogames without a games structure (of winning and losing, challenges and rewards).

    I used to think that it was possible for videogames to grow into such a medium. But I don’t believe that anymore. Or I have lost patience. That doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen. And that doesn’t mean that our work will not ultimately be considered videogames.

    But freeing ourselves from the notion that our work needs to be game-like, is very inspiring. That’s all.

    I do consider our work to be very similar to videogames. But the things that I find interesting in videogames are just about everything but the fact that they are games. I’m interested in virtual worlds, in immersion, in synthetic characters, in interaction, in realtime aesthetics, etc. Just not so much in rules and goals. So I want to remove those from our work. I used to think that the videogames would be willing to explore this potential on a large scale. But I don’t believe that anymore. Or I don’t want to wait anymore.

    I want to see a new medium come out of computer technology. I don’t care if it evolves out of videogames or out of something else. But we need to stop wasting our time with concepts of winning and losing, getting rewards for doing futile tasks, etc. It’s holding us back.

  55. Sorry, I didn’t mean to sound accusatory. I just wanted to clarify what you meant.

    Anyway, why can’t the medium you wish to create coexist with traditional games? Why all the spitefulness towards them?

    You’re right, not all games are willing to move beyond such tried concepts. But isn’t that what makes them what they are?

    The fact is that people enjoy games that involve winning or losing. They enjoy games that reward precise aiming skills or dexterity. Some people even enjoy repetitive grinding for rewards (not my cup of tea personally, but go figure).

    Even if games moved beyond those concepts, there’d still be a niche to fill. Different kinds of things cater to different kinds of people. That’s why so many platform games are still made, despite the age of 2D being long gone.

    It’s fine that you wish to do something different. I just don’t understand the animosity towards games that don’t do the same. If you are making apples, you don’t need to compare yourself to oranges.

    But it’s good that you’ve decided to move on. I think you understand that your goals lie somewhere else from games, though the spitefulness you have towards them seems rather unwarranted.

  56. It’s exactly because I accept that games can be just games, that I’m leaving them alone. So it is indeed absolutely about coexisting.

    The reason why I am angry with the games industry is that they have been talking about the evolution of games into a new and wider medium for over a decade without doing much about it. I even see some regression in recent years, away from the dream and towards games just being games.

    I have nothing against games-as-games. I just don’t think games have the monopoly on interactive entertainment. And I don’t want to get stuck in their niche culture.

  57. Alright, I think I understand what you mean now. Well, more power to you then. Perhaps you can create your own medium that explores interactivity in ways that games haven’t before.

    Though in my opinion, innovation isn’t everything. It’s better to do something and do it well, regardless of whether it’s innovative or not. These days, it always seems like people are never content with what they have, and are always waiting for the next big thing. But bigger always isn’t better. Even with all the promises of shinier graphics and bigger, more immersive worlds, I still find that the games that have had the most impact on me are games from the DOS days when being able to display graphics alone was a luxury.

  58. Still though, I find it funny how you used to be able to do anything in games where you actually had to type (or specify verbs with the mouse) whatever you wanted to do. Some of those games would let you do anything. I remember playing a game once where if you forgot to get dressed and went outside, you’d get arrested for public indecency. Not that every game needs to be like that, but why don’t we have that anymore?

    It seems like as technology grows, the less and less it’s actually capable of doing. Is it that people aren’t utilizing to its fullest anymore, or that its actually harder to do those things with new technology?

    Sometimes it feels like we already were at this point once where games where more than just games, and somehow we just stopped. That’s something I never quite understood myself. If technology could be used to do more, then why hasn’t it done so yet?

    Anyway, I’m getting a bit off topic here and I think I’ve said enough, but still that’s something I’ve never quite understood.

  59. At any rate, if you can prove that new technology can be used for so much more, I think that would be a pretty worthy goal to strive towards. Good luck.

  60. Text-based games and audiovisual games stimulate different senses. As such we get different sorts of pleasure from them. It may be more satisifying to see a single flower than to read about an entire meadow filled with thousands of them.

    I’m personally very interested in the capacity of this technology to communicate through several senses simultaneously. But I also get frustrated by how slow the technology evolves and how hard we still need to work to make the machines do what we want them to do.

  61. Oh my browser ate my post. . Once more but shorter and just as messy.

    This blog entry frustrates and disheartens me!

    “The phrase interactive entertainment also known as video games refers to the business of producing and distributing products and services, or the products and services, of which the entertainment value (or outcomes) can be influenced by users through direct feedback.”

    It’s 2010, a new century! Games/Interactive Entertainment
    financially outperforms music and film in many countries.

    A quick wiki yields these nice quotes:
    * “A series of interesting choices.” – Sid Meiers
    * “The structures of player interaction with the game system and with other players in the game.” – Patterns in Game Design (2005) Bjork, S. & Holopainen, J.
    * “One or more causally linked series of challenges in a simulated environment.” – Andrew Rollings and Ernest Adams on Game Design (2003) Rollings, A. & Adams, E.
    * “A good game is one that you can win by doing the unexpected and making it work.” – Game Architecture and Design (2000) Rollings, A. & Morris, D.
    * “The experience of gameplay is one of interacting with a game design in the performance of cognitive tasks, with a variety of emotions arising from or associated with different elements of motivation, task performance and completion.”[1] – Lindley, Nacke & Sennersten (2008)

    Many of the super-selling games are franchises /
    rely on well-worn mechanics, but that’s no different in any other form of entertainment!

    Like a large tanker the big companies take time to change course, why must you wait for this to happen?
    Continue pushing forward as you have been, leading the way, not waiting or needlessly abandoning a flourishing sector!

    What about the visual/sound novels of Japan?
    Gameplay often consisting merely of clicking to the next passage of text, static screen and vocals, yet still drawing out all the spectrum of emotion, more so than many super budget game (while selling relatively well too)!

  62. Like a large tanker the big companies take time to change course, why must you wait for this to happen?

    Because we can’t tell if they are actually changing course. Or in which direction.

    So we’re just letting them change course on their own, while we move on. If they are changing course in our direction, I’m sure we’ll meet again. If they can’t change course without us, then they shouldn’t.

    And anyway, it’s not the big companies that are the problem for us. It’s the small ones. Must of them are extremely conservative or even reactionary and they keep fighting with us. We’re tired of fighting. We just want to work.

  63. I´ve just read through almost this whole blog. Although I know what you are talking about, I’m not really sure you should be worrying about it so much. It reminds me of when I was in a band, everyone called us Goths, and we hated that (cos we we´rnt goths, we were waaay too happy). It seems that you dont want to lumped in with these ikky games, when frankly, you make them.

    Of course, anyone with some artistic nounce can see that what you are trying to do is different, and can see that your work is extremely beautiful, and in many ways they are NOTgames already. (How do you win The Path? pick all the fucking flowers?)

    There has been little said of Interactive “toys” . That is where I feel your work lies, and I don´t mean the word toy to be in anyway derogatory. The difference in my mind, is that a toy is something that you can play yourself, find you own rules, and gameplay, use some time with for fun and frolics, and then leave it… its state my not have changed much, no xp gained, no story has unfolded, but nevertheless, you enjoyed your time there.

    If you are talking of other kinds of Interactive web experiences, well what do you want? Heres my 2 faves:
    NinJam (have to be a musician here) plug in a guitar, go to a server and jam with the most unlikely mix of musicians you would ever get together in a room…

    Visitors Studio (seems to be offline at the moment) but part of the furthernoise/field network – and for which I occasionally write, and where I first heard of ToT… is a tool for looping simple flash and audio together with friends. Simple as it is, I have “performed” using just this tool.

    I personally am NOT so disgusted by the state of games right now. Why not you may ask, well frankly I know bugger all about them, and yet this year got together with an old collegue from 15 years ago, and started to make one. (Watch this space). I do play games, but I feel like Im not playing them the same as others. I play World of Warcraft for example, but my character is only Level 4… Ibe been playing for a year, and Im just unwilling to “Curb the rise of furbolgs” so, no warcraft for me. I wrote to Blizzard to ask if they would make it possible to “go down a level” of to “los XP” maybe by getting drunk, and losing a few days..
    My wife is still playing Sims 2. She says she will play till she gets to the end, she plays it like a soap opera, playing all famillys equally, (using cheat codes to ensure that no-one ages faster than each other) and loves all the character… she will often come into my studio crying…. There was a fire at Magnus´s house… they lost everything!

    The GREAT thing about, these specific years in which we live, is that, almost anyone can now download and use tools to make one! That means, those of us with a “great new idea” can put something out, and it doesnt have to compete with GTA or WoW.

    I think you should be proud of what you have done and are doing, Michael,and although much of your work is NOT what I would do, I think some of your ideas have been flawed, the pure artistic texture in your work and ideas is inspiring and was, without doubt the catalyst for myself and my new/old collegue. Not your games so much but the fact that you made NOTGAMES.

    you have nearly made me quit my day job.
    Thank-you –


    please excuse the ramble…

  64. Well, I guess the fact that this is a day job for me, makes me a little bit nervous sometimes. :) We are proud of what we’re doing. And we know we’re not really alone. The “resistance” keeps growing. So now we’re at a point where I feel that we should simply leave games for what they are and unite our forces to explore this exciting universe of “notgames”. We have already started this initiative, somewhat behind the scenes, and I believe good things will from it. The time is ripe.

  65. Notgames is probably not really the perfect name I guess, but certainly a good thing to invest more time and energy on… I’ve put it on my new decade list as well. The idea to implement pieces, rather than competitive, goal-oriented challenges, seems to be the right resolution after all the struggling around games… And in a way it’s more natural today anyway, because computers can handle such rich multi-media content by now, so that the “hook” of an underlying competitive game system isn’t needed anymore to make things interesting enough for the players. Too simplistic reasoning? Maybe, but in my opinion that was the main reason why things started mainly with games around 30 years ago, and not with toys or just beautiful software or something… (better name needed, “pieces for computer” maybe?) – I believe that this new format idea could really lead to something which is culturally more important because such pieces aren’t made to be played with goals and highscore in mind, thus they are much more open for different interpretations/themes. And finally this could wake up a huge sleeping market, with lots of different sub genres… With a much wider target audience the games have. – Also the idea about organizing things in labels… That would really help this development and publishing, I think, especially in the case of small independent developers, doing small things/pieces… It would be more informal and generally easier than like working in a company, and publishing things over game publishers, but still not as open, undirected and amateurish, like in a open forum or competition… Like-minded developers and artists could work together, share things over the net, collaborate in some cases, and discuss things internally, and finally present (and also sell) the results to the public on a common front page, probably quite similar to how music (net) labels work (but I don’t have much knowledge about this…). All moderated by a core team (according to their general concept/style/genre/approach/themes/location…). – I also had this idea, some time ago… and it seems to be more and more a valid route out of this chaotic indie games world… So, it was nice to read about this here too… :)

  66. The idea to implement pieces, rather than competitive, goal-oriented challenges, seems to be the right resolution after all the struggling around games… And in a way it’s more natural today anyway, because computers can handle such rich multi-media content by now, so that the “hook” of an underlying competitive game system isn’t needed anymore to make things interesting enough for the players. Too simplistic reasoning?

    Not simplistic at all! In fact, indeed, what we’re trying to do is quite the obvious thing to do. We will probably not be the only ones. It just makes sense to abandon the games format and concentrate on what this technology can really do.

  67. Sorry for being so late to the party!

    This is probably the healthy thing to do. I’ve honestly also grown tired of people crying ‘not a game’ when they play some of mine.

    How about ‘outsider video games’? ‘Aesthetic software’?

    This has the potential of tackling and expanding the intersection between video games and art, that fringe where most people find it hard to call it games, but since (modern) art is by nature expansive, we have a chance of bleeding further into that space.

    I support a competition and the label.

  68. Thanks for the support.

    I don’t think it’s not just about “outsider” or even “art”. I actually believe that abandoning the game format is required for interactive entertainment to become as mainstream as cinema and music.

  69. Also very late to the party but it looks like a name still hasn’t been settled on. A thread sprang up on TIGSource last night proposing the term “Artware” to separate it from the association with more typical gaming.

    The thread descended into a lot of silliness, of course, but the term seems to have legs.

  70. This post, and all of the comments, really stirred something in me. In a positive way.

    I’m currently studying Game Developtment – Design. And I have more and more come to realize one thing; games does not feel that interesting anymore. I have, to some degree, felt this for quite som time. However by working with games, and not just playing them, this feeling has grown.
    There are very few AAA-titles that I find interesting and most of them gives me a very strong sense of “been there, done that”.

    The issue, I believe, is that very few games try to tell me someting. Instead they have a sense of indiffrence attatched to them.

    I also believe that gameplay and systems do (sometimes) stand in the way of creativity and emotions. I’ve played a few very simple Indie-games and several of them had no real gameplay. Still, they gave me a stronger experience than many big industry titles.
    This beacuse they actually had something to say.

    I also believe that we should move away from the term “game”. One might argue that a mere name is not that important, however, a game postulates some kind of system i.e gameplay.
    And by using the term games we are trapped in a corner, just in the same way as using genres can be difficult. It hides the real purpose of the “product”, creating an interesting experience, behind forced gameplay and set rules.

    So, as you might guess, you have my support.

  71. Hiya all, yeah, I’m also rather late here 😉 but anyways…

    I just read the entire page in one go, in one breath almost. I couldn’t stop. And now, this last post from Måns, I had this weird feeling of ‘woaw’.

    First to say: Måns, you said what I think 😛

    I also, am a student at game design (and development). At the HKU in the Netherlands. And yes, I do not see, for myself and the industry, a fun and interesting future. I want more.
    I am a storyteller by heart and soul. When I first started my study 2 years ago, I wanted to go towards narrative design. That’s still there. But my passion for games has shifted more and more towards something else.

    I want to do so much. think of words like ’emotion’ and ‘experience’. But I cannot do that right now. Not in the place where I’m studying, nor do I see a chance to let myself go later in life (when I need a day job in this industry).
    I just want to tell stories, experiences. I just want people to enjoy them on a deeper level then just the narrative that exists today can allow.

    Michaël, you have my full support. And I hope that one day we could have a talk, a dialogue, about this vision of yours. I share the same vision as you might have figured.

    Ow, question, do you, at ToT take interships? Just because next year I’m obligated to look for one. And it would be a great honor if I could join the ranks for a couple of months.
    I live in the Netherlands anyways, so it is in the neighbourhood 😉 And it would be a great learning experience for me

    finally, you have my support, and if there’s anything you need, just ask, I might be able to help.

  72. Thank you for your note, Sven. Don’t worry: you don’t need to take a day job in the games industry. You can simply become a full time artist. (well, not “simply” exactly, but it’s possible -especially in the Netherlands)

    We don’t often work with interns for the simple reason that we are just a small company working out of a studio in our home. It’s a bit too intimate to have “employees” running around. 😉

  73. haha, why don’t we call it ‘cozy’ 😛

    Actually, I know a lot of people who have their own company in their attic of basement. About 4 to 8 employees large.

  74. Okay, you poked my curiosity now.

    If I may be so straight forward in asking:
    How exactly does ToT work?
    I’d like to know what it would be like for an ’employee’ of ToT, how a ‘normal’ workday would look like.

  75. Tale of Tales is two people. A man and a woman. We are married. And sleep in the same bed. In the morning we get up and go sit at our desks, in the room next to the bedroom. Then we have brunch. Then we go to our desks and work some more. Then we have tea and watch some game trailers. Then we work some more. Then we have dinner. Then we watch a torrented tv show. Then we work some more or play a videogame or waste time in another way. Then we go to bed. In the weekend we don’t work. Then we play house with two children who hang out here sometimes. My children by another woman.

  76. hmm, okay.
    maybe I asked it the wrong way…

    you now described your ‘day’, but what I was getting after was the ‘work’ part.
    what does that include? programming? designing? writing? drawing?

    I’m sorry for all the questions, I’m just curious.

  77. I think I explained exactly what it would be like to be a ToT “employee”: they would be married to us, share our bed and our table. Which is why we don’t have employees. 😉

    Our work includes whatever it takes. You name it, we do it. Games don’t grow by themselves. Nor do they find an audience on their own. So we do whatever is necessary to get from nothing to a playable game in your hands.

    I guess I’m the one who doesn’t understand what’ you’re asking. :/

  78. Michael,

    I bought one of your limited hard copies of The Path. So needless to say… I am a fan.

    I’m a student of game design, but I have not ever really called myself a designer, but am trying to come to terms with the fact that that is what I am, because it is what I do. It’s been really hard coming to grips with being a designer, as I find it very hard to relate to the image that is being “sold” to me by the developers of the industry. I find myself puzzled and scratching my head, wondering “Is that it…?” because, like you, I am constantly disappointed by what I see (and play) and so I’ve been trying to develop my style and accept the fact that trying to develop something marketable just isn’t in my design process.

    I suppose I’m looking for something different, something as honest as I can find. I believe I find that in your games, which is why I play them. And, more importantly, I don’t try to analyze what my goals are in playing these games/notgames. I’m simply letting myself enjoy the experience… because that is what a game should do, invoke an experience.

    I can tell you that I am being taught by a very prominent figure in the field of game design, and we recently played through Fatale together, sharing our thoughts on the experience as we played through it. It was interesting that when we finished, we couldn’t really say anything, because we weren’t even sure how we felt. But sure enough, some time later, we both knew that we enjoyed it, we just couldn’t say why. We couldn’t say we enjoyed any particular “level” or killing any certain “bad guy”… it was just an enjoyable experience. And that is what I hope to create.

    In my PayPal order for The Path, I wrote a little note to you saying that The Path was the most immersive interactive experience I had ever had. This was because the design elements used in that game made me feel like I was the one personally walking through those woods, picking up those flowers, finding my wolf. It didn’t really occur to me what the “rules” were or what my “goal” was because they didn’t define my experience. It’s hard to put my finger on it, and that is why I loved it.

    Anyway, I really hope I can show you my work soon and that you will find time to have your own experiences in my games/notgames. I also hope you continue to be a leading figure in this emergent… art? Industry? Craft? Or whatever you would like to call it. I also think starting a “label” sounds like a fantastic idea… or a festival/contest sort of thing would be great, too!

    Derrick from USA

  79. Thank you, Derrick, for sharing this. We look forward to seeing your work!

    You really hit the nail on the head when you say our work is simply about experiencing something, rather than achieving a goal or “beating the game” -if all goes well, the game should “beat” you ;).

    Don’t be afraid of “design”. Design is a way to make your work more accessible to people, it’s a way of being friendly to your audience. You just make sure that you apply the right dose of friendliness. And that this implies a choice of audience. No design can please everyone. At Tale of Tales, we choose to design for people who don’t get served very well by the games industry.

    We’re honoured to hear you played Fatale with your teacher. And really curious who this “prominent figure” is! 😉

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