Conventional game design often denies players the act of interpretation.
I find this interesting because systems like these are all over in our lives, manipulating subtly how we interact with one another.
Instead of rules, there’s ritual; instead of winning, there is play. While we colloquially conflate gaming and playing, there is a strong emphasis on their nuances when we take on this frame.
What can games teach about design?
What does subversive play look like?
Content Note: This article will be talking about kink and philosophy surrounding it, and no graphic depictions or descriptions of sex. I should note that kink culture, politics, and activities are outside of this piece, but they are worth interrogating.
This past year, I’ve sat down with a lot of creators about representation in games. One of the first questions out of their mouth to me is “How do you depict minorities well in games?”
What hasn’t really been discussed often is how to critique these sorts of games, or, what is their particular contribution to play.
I have a lot of problems with indie development culture, and Unity represents a lot of them. Mainly a buy-in to technological progression that steadily closes its gates to people outside of tech fields and devalues aesthetic expression not associated with contemporary ideas of polish.
A clear example is Sequence, an interesting RPG ‘rhythm’ game by Iridium Studios. I have scarequotes around rhythm because I don’t think it’s the proper term; games that heavily feature music tend to be ghettoized into a music games category, and I don’t think we really have good words for them.
What does it mean when critics and creators can’t afford to keep up with the tech race?
Players are overrated.
We tend to see them as objects. When we talk about games, we’re referencing a thing, either with physical boundaries or digital limitations. Games are objects with qualities, to be dissected, parsed, and valued. A game is something with a challenge. A game is something with a goal. Besides the usual questions of who is deciding what a game has, it is, first and foremost, a thing.
I thought his eyes were blue. But he reminded me they were the color of shit.
As I change when I move from a bar crowded with friends to a public bus to a lover’s bedroom, I changed when playing Survivor. In this light, rules are actually a kind of perspective, a way of viewing yourself under different lights.