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January 19th, 2008

I Do Love to Play

Godz I 'luv you guys!  You always make me think.  This time it was zhai on gaming and choice:

If that is the conclusion [where zhai said, In a world where we have a profusion of information and manipulatable media, the differentiating factor is how we navigate that media, which comes down to identity, which comes down to choice.], then we should dismantle the game entirely. *

A game is a set of rules that allow for a specific win. We don't play games to lose, nor do we play games where people constantly change the rules. If our fellow gamers were allowed to change the game's rules on-the-fly, via choice as you say, then we couldn't be sure that the result would be fair because we aren't sure that everyone still has the original chance to win. It is this initial, immutable realization of the goal that sits at the heart of games that you overlook.

Now you can redefine my simplistic description of a game to mean something more experimental and choice-laden, but why play with common understanding? Or you could criticize that you are looking inside the game at all the choices available within the set of rules, but that criticism doesn't free the player of the general restrictions on choice while in play. The player can chose not to play (in which case she was never a "player", to use a bad pun) or she can chose to create a different game, but neither of those choices keep us focused about a specific game. And it is this specific game that in general means we can't draw outside the lines.

I actually love the concept of a coloring book without lines but it's no longer a "coloring book" de facto; it's a scrapbook, or notebook, etc. In a similar way, I don't think what you're talking about developing will be called a game per se. Perhaps it is called "life"; but because we are inside that game while its already in play, it's hard to tell what to call it :)