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re: Deadgames and Alivegames

Started by droqen, September 19, 2021, 06:30:27 PM

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Regarding Melos Han-Tani's
"Deadgames and Alivegames"


(thoughts from smittenkitten gameboy notebook, taken while walking home from little italy on sep 19, toronto, after hanging out with j)

QuoteSomething like Zelda may well have popped out of nowhere, its design decisions taken as law rather than a mix of pros and cons. A game building on Zelda might be ignored entirely.

What does this mean?

[..] once you begin to explore the landscape, the illusion breaks down as the level design collapses into a bunch of walking and repetitive climbing. "See that mountain? You can go to it" is the failphrase of the 2010s in game design that encapsulates the problem entirely.

The quoted text seems to imply that the phrase represents a fundamentally broken game design fantasy: it is a "failphrase" which "encapsulates the problem entirely." It does not encapsulate the problem at all. There's nothing inherently wrong with the fantasy 'See that mountain? You can go to it'. The issue is its subsequent overuse by uninteresting games, in uninteresting contexts. There is no such thing as bad game design. 'Walking and repetitive climbing' may have merit in some contexts.

Quote[..] delivers the content of 10 pages of a novel over a 60 hour gaming experience. Of course, it's not like these games are miserable to play or devoid of ideas: they're often fun and have something neat about them. But often these games feel padded out, or perhaps, slightly watered down, in trying to be too many things.

The claim that a game is "padded out" or "watered down" or "trying to be too many things" should be rephrased as "composed of many elements, some of which are valueless." Then, a separate statement can be made regarding what is valueless and why. Taken together the claims in red text, above, confuse the situation by conflating two distinct statements:

1. This game has many elements

2. Certain elements are valuable or not valuable

The statement "delivers the content of 10 pages of a novel over a 60 hour gaming experience" implies that the rest of the 60 hour gaming experience is valueless, without actually making the claim. However, the claim must be made explicitly.


(sep 19 thoughts cont'd)

Quoteoverall the game does not have much identity nor much to say: it's merely a fun playground with which to pass time.

To say that something that "does not have much identity nor much to say" is fine, but the following statement is derogatory towards the concept of "fun playgrounds with which to pass time" without (as in the previous post) actually making the claim.

If the claim is in fact being made that "fun playgrounds (with which to pass time) are less identityful and meaningful," why is that the case? If not, the statement is derogatory and unnecessary.

(Also, I kinda love the image posted. It's an inspirational list of interesting tasks that people might enjoy doing. I actually want to run a poll like this.)



(sep 19 thoughts cont'd)

Melos links a twitter thread by Daniel Cook. separate forum thread here: re: Why are game designers wrong 80% of the time?


QuoteA game is "Dead" when it has no human designers. What I mean by this is that the game is, largely, 'designed' by non-human forces of desire for profit, and desire for scale. In a Deadgame, the human game designer a proxy for capitalism's demons to accumulate money.

What does this mean? Why is desiring profit, scale, and accumulating money seen as a non-human force? These are things that people like, that people are driving. Capitalism is a machine made of people. It's a game. What forces are 'human' and why?

(Deeper questions about appealing to humanity without stating what that means. Similar to appeals to nature, appeals to morality, appeals to goodness.)

In eating and having sex, the human is a proxy for their body's demons to consume food and reproduce. This is pleasurable, just like making money and becoming more powerful is pleasurable. Are these seen as non-human forces?


I will post more in "aliveplay", but i appreciate the focus of this piece on human concerns