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Mirosurabu
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It's kind of strange when someone claims that the belief that "story doesn't matter" is endemic to the game industry when pretty much to anyone who has played at least one of the modern video games it's pretty clear this absolutely isn't the case. In fact, can someone name a single popular, modern or not, video game that contains no illusion whatsoever? It's hard to think of any! Maybe Tetris? The belief that "story doesn't matter" comes from people with narrow tastes -- possibly game developers with limited resources. And thankfully, these aren't the ones who run the industry haha. It's hard to believe that anyone would say that "story doesn't matter" unless they mean something very specific like, I don't know, boring cutscenes do not matter?
Toggle Commented Sep 19, 2012 on Game Audit Pitfalls (2): Bad Assumptions at ihobo
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Enjoy -- that is to say prefer over thick play.
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2012 on The Thin Play of Dear Esther at ihobo
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I'm afraid you simply don't want to consider a possibility that people who enjoy thin play are those with a handicap. ;)
Toggle Commented Aug 6, 2012 on The Thin Play of Dear Esther at ihobo
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"you haven't really appreciated the experiences that thin play facilitates for the players who want it." Easy cover-up. (: Adding a chase scene to a film would work well only if it's integrated well with the rest of the elements. That's given. That said, it probably won't fit Ingmar's films. I never said that there is no such thing as good thick play and bad thick play. In fact, this was implied when I said "thick play does not *necessarily* obfuscate the kind of joy you can get from thin play. [..] *sometimes* it is the case". As Aristotle is often quoted -- the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In other words, beside actual parts of a whole, there is also an assembly of these parts. If a game is made of excellent elements (and many such elements, for after all, that's the very definition of a thick play, right?) but their assembly is bad, then that would lead to an inferior thick play, obviously. Your argument is that thin play has something exclusive to it. You have yet to provide a convincing argument! (:
Toggle Commented Aug 2, 2012 on The Thin Play of Dear Esther at ihobo
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As I've said, thick play does not necessarily obfuscate the kind of joy you can get from thin play. Yes, sometimes it is the case, but a lot of the time it isn't. GTA 3 is a good example. The fact that some people can't appreciate GTA 3 due to "overjustification" is missing the point because to those who can properly appreciate both GTA 3 and Proteus it's pretty clear that GTA 3 is much more pleasurable. In short, those who cannot appreciate GTA 3 due to "overjustification" are handicapping themselves from higher pleasure. The reason why thick play is superior to thin play is simply because it's everything thin play is but more. This is pure math a.k.a. you don't have to conduct rigorous scientific experiments to test this claim. In essence, you're trying to validate simplicity by giving it fictional exclusivity in terms of quality. The only exclusivity simplicity has is accessibility i.e. it's what beginners prefer. And there is nothing wrong with that. Before one can enjoy complexity one has to enjoy simplicity. In other words, we all love simplicity, it's just that as we get older and more experienced, we ask for more and more complexity to sustain our interest. That's how real progress is made in any art. However, that does not mean that we all have to enjoy the same games! After all, there are all sorts of bizarre confounding factors when it comes to individual preferences. But one thing is sure -- we all move towards complexity.
Toggle Commented Jul 28, 2012 on The Thin Play of Dear Esther at ihobo
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It is true that some players are ignoring everything that is not explicitly rewarded by the game, but that's THEIR fault. It's not something they cannot change. It's not something they have absolutely no control over. Simply because they end up choosing thin play over thick play doesn't mean that thick play ISN'T superior to thin play. It absolutely is. Besides, this isn't the question of what *I* prefer, it's simply a question of what is the relationship between complex and simple games. For example, there are many complex games I don't like, but that doesn't mean complexity is not better than simplicity.
Toggle Commented Jul 25, 2012 on The Thin Play of Dear Esther at ihobo
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The trade-offs between thin and thick play that you mention are pure fiction. A thick play can still have everything thin play does. In other words, a thin play is a retrogression; it's an inferior game. For example, a game such as GTA 3 has a thick play but still allows you all of the time in the world to pay attention to the environments. Oh, and yes, there is a challenge in Dear Esther. However, it's horribly awful one; not simply because it's easy, but because it's a bad sort of difficulty.
Toggle Commented Jul 24, 2012 on The Thin Play of Dear Esther at ihobo
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But my point is that these play activities (i.e. avatar creators) are enjoyed exactly because of problem-solving, even though it's a different kind of problem-solving. Don't you agree with this? Regarding victory: How can we experience victory unless we are certain that we've solved some kind of problem? Sure, there's room for superstition, but that's it.
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I've spent a lot of time thinking what separates decision-making from problem-solving. Obviously, given my theory that all decision-making is problem-solving, there were anamolies such as avatar creators, where, it was pretty clear it's fun to make decisions, but not quite obvious what's "problematic" about it. There were also other anomalies such as necessary decision-making that isn't really fun on its own, such as, main menu decisions. In the end, I made two very important observations that provided answers: 1. when you solve a problem it ceases to be a problem and it becomes a tool 2. in situations where there is no clear explicit goal set and thus no meaning behind decisions, one can, and this is especially true for kids, imagine the problem for themselves and this way give meaning to otherwise meaningless decisions So, regarding the first observation, consider that we walk every day. That's not a problem, even though there is decision-making involved. It was a problem back when we were young, but now, it's a tool. It's something we use to solve other problems. In video games, main menu decisions are purely functional ones and there is supposed to be zero problem-solving involved. Similar goes for interface. We want these decisions to be made as easy as possible. Now regarding the second observation, it explains why we sometimes take otherwise meaningless decisions so seriously. Avatar creators are fun despite lacking any sort of explicit goal simply because there is enough room to make up goals on our own terms. So, avatar creators become fun because we can set goals such as following: 1. make an avatar that looks like a celebrity 2. make an avatar that will be sexually appealing to you 3. make the ugliest avatar ever 4. make an avatar that fits this or that personality These all lead to problem-solving, but a kind of problem-solving where you use your own instincts as a judgement rather than some other external object, such as game. And so, it was pretty obvious to me that all interesting decision-making is problem-solving. That said, there is no need for separation between "victory", "conflict" and "problem" aesthetic because they are pretty much the same thing, the problem-solving aesthetic. When you have a problem, you have a conflict, and when you solve a problem you have a victory.
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Necroing an old blog entry, hell yeah! But I just read Sid's GDC talk and somehow stumbled upon your blog (again). Anyways, I think his definition is narrowed to cover what he does. Obviously, unless by 'decision' one means pretty much any mental process, some games don't have it. For example - button mashing. However, you can stretch his definition a little bit to cover such cases by replacing word "decision" with "problem". That gives us: "A game is a series of interesting problems." There you go. It covers pretty much every case. Gambling is a problem. Of course, you cannot solve it, but gamblers pretend they can, so there you go. So is Snakes and Ladders a problem. "part of the enjoyment that many players are getting out of this game is fantasising about being a guitar-playing rock god" All video-games are primarily about fantasy. That's what is cool about them. Of course, there are people who really only care about problem solving, BUT, I would argue that for majority, it's the fantasy that matters. This does not mean that Sid's definition is wrong. Not at all. The question we should ask yourself is: would these people like their fantasies were it not for all that perceived problem solving going on? Generally, I don't think so. And in fact, if they would, I'd repeat my old stance: they are engaging in a distinct sort of activity. :P But, wait, aren't detective films perceived as some kind of problem solving too? Like, wouldn't all that 'whodunit' thing make them some kind of game? Perhaps. But then, the appeal comes from actually NOT solving the problem, that is, it comes from being fooled into thinking you have solved the problem. If I figure out whodunit at any time, I get disappointed, because I don't get to enjoy the resolution.
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Thanks for mentioning Costikyan. I haven't read his denouncement before. After reading it, it became obvious to me that I'm pretty echoing his words in their entirety here.
Toggle Commented Mar 31, 2012 on What is Game Aesthetics? at ihobo
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However, I'd argue, this is where computer entertainment ceases to be gaming and becomes something else, something that has yet to be established on its own. Of course, there are also some questions whether that sort of entertainment can thrive, but that's a talk for another time.
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2012 on What is Game Aesthetics? at ihobo
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My opinion is that computer interaction can only be logically appealing. The reason for this is that computer interaction really only involves fingers, and so, unlike any other physical activity, there is not much physically going on in our body to keep us going. That said, computer interaction can only be fun (on its own) if it's part of a test. An alternative to this is to simply minimize the interaction to the points it's barely noticeable, so that players can actually focus on art. I like to compare this to books. Books, for example, do involve interaction. They ask you to move your eyes and they ask you to turn pages. However, the interaction is not what we derive fun from. It's the content. The role of interaction is merely to deliver that content, and so, the ideal of such interaction is to be as minimal as possible.
Toggle Commented Mar 29, 2012 on What is Game Aesthetics? at ihobo
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"The idea that Flower and Journey don't display gameplay seems mind-boggling obscure - even under your victory-aesthetic, these seem to be non-problematic cases. Flower has clear victory conditions, and Journey does too, albeit more explicitly at the level of its Trophies. These would seem to be the wrong counter-examples to turn to." Just because some games have gameplay elements, it doesn't mean they are played or enjoyed as games. That said, I do agree that Flower and Journey use traditional tropes, but I don't think this is a good criteria. The way I decide whether something is a game or not (or, in general, whether two works of art are of the same class or not) is by looking at the "positive experience". In the case of games, if a positive experience is brought on by the joy of winning, then it's a game. If it's not, then it's something else. A "positive experience" can be our own or that of others. For example, I didn't really like Passage, and I didn't really like Dear Esther, so I had to look at other people and figure out why they enjoy it. But I kind of liked Flower, so I had a chance to see it for myself too. When I compare that to the way I normally play games, to the way people I know play games, to the way most Kongregate players play games, I see a difference as big as that between games and novels. This is why I think these two things should be differentiated. They do not belong to the same class. My second argument is that of semantics - I'd rather keep the word "game" to mean stuff that is in spirit of sports and board games. But this ain't as relevant as the first argument. Cheers
Toggle Commented Mar 28, 2012 on Beyond Definitions of Game at ihobo
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[quote]I agree that a young player of Snakes and Ladders feels as though they have agency. But so do players of Passage.[/quote] It is true that Passage can easily be perceived as a game. It has some level of interaction, it keeps score and it has several endings. You can try and play it as a game, and.. it will suck. The same applies to Journey. The same applies to Flower. None of which, I believe, changes the fact that they are in fact not games. If you talk to people who like this game (or, if you try to like it yourself), you will see the process is completely different to that of gameplay. Why would you then argue that it is a game? Why would you? Why would you want to blur the line with completely different sort of value judgement?
Toggle Commented Mar 22, 2012 on Beyond Definitions of Game at ihobo
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"[..] tabletop role-playing games [..] Games of Call of Cthulhu [..] Children's games of make-believe" They are all games. I think you're confusing formal victory with informal victory. A game does not need to celebrate one's win to be considered a game. As I said - it's all about perception. If you are perceiving tests and if you're enjoying winning, it's a game. Let's take a GTA as an example. The game has a sandbox mode. You don't have to play missions to perceive it as a game. You don't have to play hidden challenges either. All you have to do is look at the cars or the people on the streets and spot a test for yourself. For example, let's say you drive a car and spot a bike far ahead of you. You decide it would be fun to run into it and smash it. This is a test. It's not one that is explicitly set by the game, but it is a test nonetheless. The test is whether you can run into the bike full-speed and smash it. You can lose. For example, if you crash into another car. When you do so, you don't feel happy, so you are inclined to try again later. You can win. For example, if you hit the bike and catapult it far into the distance so that it causes a chain accident. This is a win, albeit not a formal one. Griefing is the same. It's not set by the game. In fact, it's against the rules of the game. But you can still perceive wins and you can lose if others ignore you or even ban you. Majority of the players, I feel, enjoy games in this way. That's what we call "games". Now, of course, some people perceive video games completely differently. That's fine. However, that sort of perception is completely distinct from this conventional one.
Toggle Commented Mar 22, 2012 on Beyond Definitions of Game at ihobo
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The demarcation problem is not about words. It's about the huge disconnect between how majority and how [certain] minorities perceive games. Note that I use "perception" here intentionally. Mapping video games directly to perception is incredibly difficult, so it's extremely important to talk about games in terms of what they are enjoyed for (something that Dan Cook makes clear in his article on video games chemistry). That said, you need no hard science to come to the conclusion that Dear Esther is not a game. In fact, you need no science. All you have to do is play the game itself. Play it and then ask yourself "am I enjoy this because I'm winning?". Do you? If you do, it's a game. Period. If you don't, disregarding how good it is, it's not a game. Now you don't have to rely on personal experience of course. Ask other people. Ask those who like the game. Why do they like it? Do they like it because they feel good for solving problems, or do they like it because they reflect upon the story/environment? There lies the question to this problem. Now, if that's not enough, if you still think that doesn't make it less of a game, conduct a little survey. Ask a bunch of gamers why do they play games? Why do they like games? Ask a GTA player if he's into experience or into winning powered by experience? Ask a SimCity player if he'd like the game if it was stripped of its rules? Ask a Snakes and Ladders player what he likes about it? What will they say? They will say it's about winning within specific fantasy. It's about living in a world they want to live. And living in a fantasy requires tests in order to be properly functional. Now, take a look at games like Dear Esther and you will see the difference clearly - Dear Esther is about reflecting upon the world. It's not about living inside the world. This is not necessarily worse, but it's completely different, and while it may be possible to perceive traditional video games in the same way, it's nevertheless totally unrepresentative of how general population perceives games. The solution? Accept it as a new multimedia entertainment so you could actually build upon in a proper way.
Toggle Commented Mar 21, 2012 on Beyond Definitions of Game at ihobo
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