Stuff to read

Stuff to Read:


Why is this a game?

What is a game?
While the question is simple, the answer to this question very ambiguous and at times it's hard to argue one way or the other. While some argue that games are fun, others argue that this definiton limits the artform. This side is the one who's usually quick to defend games like 
Gone Home, Dear Esther, etc.

While I'm not myself sure how I'd fall on that debate, on one hand there is a case to be be made for games with minimal interaction, on the other hand at what point does that minimalism go too far?
So while I dont intend to label something as "not a game", I do want to ask the question: Why is this a game? I think it's an important question because it focuses to the strentghs of the medium.

Here are some examples

Heavy Rain

So this might suprise some but the claim that Heavy Rain does not have a failure state, is false. The real difference between Heavy Rains fail state and regular fail states is that it really isn't announced.
You can think of the characters you have as lives and when you run out you 
get the worst possible ending and fail.
All the others are just endings are just ranks on how well you did.
But more to the point, why is it a game?
Well, you can't make it into a movie, because a movie has it's story set in stone, 
and Heavy Rain dosen't.
How about choose your own adventure books? That has the problem of only including branching choices but not including player skill driven results. You could potentially do this with dice but that relies solely on luck and thats not what Quantic dream was going for. Also books lack music and animation to set the mood in the way they wanted. The only medium that can let them do this is video games, so I think It has a valid reason to exsist as one

Ace Attorney series

While most agree that they are games, I think it should be acknowledged that the gameplay is minimal. The gameplay consists of puzzles in the form of murder mysteries, 
and you can fail this task. 
By the token old point and click adventure games also have the same minimal gameplay going for them but they are indeed. So yes, puzzles are enough of a reason to justify a games exsistence for me anyway.

The Path

This one is a bit tricky, on the one hand you barely have any interaction with anything in the game and only one interaction actually changes the course of the game in anyway (finding the "wolf"). On the other hand the branching path is not possible in a movie and again, the athmosphere would be lost on a book, also books might not be able to carry such a vague narrative. I'd say This one just barely has a reason to be a game.

The Graveyard

The stated idea of this is to be a interactive painting. Honestly the branchin outcome in this one is so weak that I dont think this needs to be a game. An animation that had 2 differing versions that were shown randomly would have about the same effect without the hassle of having someone push a stick to move an old lady foward.

Gone Home

So, how does the SJW aproved critically acclaimed indie darling stack up. Not very well. Since the narrative is linear and there are no puzzles to solve, there is no reason why
Gone Home couldn't be a book or a movie.
Heck they could have made a visual novel if they wanted to keep it digital.
Also slightly offtopic here. While all visual novels are not necessarily games, visual novels can be games, given that they have puzzles in them or branching paths.

Dear Esther

 Same thing as Gone Home, there simply is no reason for this to be a game. This could all be accomplished trough other mediums.

 In Closing
Thats a couple of examples of my tought processes as of late. I do have to admit that this is ONLY my toughts and nothing more. I did not comment on certain games (like Beyond: Two souls) because I don't think I have a good enough understanding of that game (or I havent heard about it, thats a possibility too). Hopefully these scribblings will spark some discussion.


  1. Gone Home could be a movie or a book but should it? I think a lot of the atmosphere would be lost and the sense of discovery would be weaker as well.

    1. In a book format you could potentially lose musics impact. Depending on how greatly you value the impact that has on the experience then you could have point there.

      However if talking about a movie then all is left is the sense of discovery and even then I dont think it's impossible to get that through in a movie. I mean yeah you aren't expieriencing it directly but emphatizing with someone having that experience can be equally moving.

      Gone home to me feels like the gaming worlds equivalent of oscar baiting, it didn't do the lesbian romance because it wanted to, but because it might land them recognition.