Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Company of Others.

Very few people read the dictionary for fun -- and generally, the people who refer to it as some sort of authority on language, well -- very few people read those people for fun either. They are the people who ruin conversations by googling whether Kevin Bacon's first role really was in Animal House when establishing certainty is never the point. In fact, certainty makes things worthless.

That's why the act of naming is a powerful act. It implies mastery and ownership over something, it imposes limits: North America. Adam. Drosophila. So it must be pretty to think you're some sort of intrepid explorer charting undiscovered countries, setting your flag down in alien soil. Civilization. Wilderness. Barbarians.

Many games have a notion of sportsmanship. When you're, say, 6 years old, you learn that arguing in a game of tag is foolish. Competition is not an excuse for selfishness and ruining the game for others. It's even more foolish when the game has no end in sight; when victory is impossible or irrelevant; when, clearly, the point is just to enjoy running around in the company of others.

I think formalism has its uses. Arguing about whether something's a game or not, however, when the designer and at least one player clearly find it a compelling and/or playful experience of some sort and use the word "game", is probably the most wasteful application of formalism possible. You're not "furthering the advancement of game design" or whatever by negging someone's work, you're more likely just making the developer feel like shit.

Games are for people who care about what games are, about the purity of genres and mechanics, the thrill of a kill -- and that's okay. However, games are also for us, we who simply enjoy running around in the company of others.

So join us if you want, it's your call. 

But if you don't, then please, just get out of our way. We have a game to play and you're interrupting us.