I’ve spoken often about how my definition of what constitutes a “game” is pretty inclusive, and how I tire of people who attempt to criticize games by calling their “gameyness” into question.
And often, those people who are excluded by these formal definitions are people not interested in games with direct conflict or opposition. They are also often people trying to explore the boundaries of the medium, creating exploratory works.
I would still point out that not everything created which looks like a game actually is one. Exploring boundaries, trying to find alternate uses for the medium. Starcraft is well known for having tons of player-made maps that can dramatically change its function. I enjoyed several which were essentially movies. There’s nothing “game” about them because you were just watching, except perhaps if a choice is presented; not unlike choosing options on a DVD, which I doubt you’d call a game.
Is a digital novel, with still images and maybe some path choices, a game? If you said yes, you forget this is just another form of “choose your own adventure” a type of book that was popular in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. They used the term “gamebook”, which I honestly think is a misnomer, as “interactive book” would probably be more appropriate. Not everything you can interact with is a game, though people may deem it as such. You interact with a word processor, the filing system at the library, and with other people.. but none of those are games, either.
In the case of Dear Esther, you can not even stop the “ride” and go explore. You sit there, listening to the music and viewing what it allows you to see as you progress along the predetermined path. I would not call that a game, it is more like a “tour” which you can not stray from.
Unless you want a definition of game that is so all-inclusive that anything and everything readily fits into it - and this sounds a lot like certain legislatures that have been attempted to make games illegal - then you really do need to find SOME form of guidelines for what is, without a doubt, a game. There will always be grey areas because life is not black and white, so you’ll certainly have situations that will arise no matter how well you define it, and interpretation is something we will likely never fully agree on.. except as a concept.
To be honest, I think Pinchbeck’s own words kind of settled the situation in his mind. I’m not sure it was ever meant to “be” a game but because of the medium and the tools used, people assumed it was one. I personally think 2001 is nothing more than an exploration of what could be accomplished with the medium from an artistic standpoint. However, because it influenced the industry so many people will refuse to listen to a word against it, even if they haven’t watched it.
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- hiroshimishima said: This issue is present in film, too, but in reverse. There’s a number of people who feel that 2001 and similar titles are not movies in the same sense that Aliens or Blues Brothers are, but most will not listen.
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