Is It Still a Game If You Don’t Play It?

Is It Still a Game If You Don't Play It?

Applying Plutarch's great question to the bizarre Asura's Wrath.

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Interesting article, personally I found Asura's Wrath an interesting piece of gaming, although there isn't much replay value.

Bah, let the complainers complain. I fucking loved Asura's Wrath and even said as much out loud and wide eyed when Asura and Akuma/Oni are flying around inside the moon having a 500 year long DBZ/ Hokuto No Ken style fight.

What's that? Oh, sorry, not for me, thank you. I take my leisure time non-existentially.

Or one could simply ask whether it fits the definition of a video game, find out that QTEs fit under that definition, and answer the question right then and there. It's a game, and not really the least interactive ever seen, yet nobody questioned whether Zork and Myst were games.

And isn't Plutarch's question aimed at whether something that "is" could still be when altered, whereas the question of the headline is whether AW even "is" in the first place?

Very interesting article perhaps deserving of more reads than it will likely get. I wanted to say it was existential but it perhaps is more post modern Derrida and his most controversial stance/posit on context as it relates to flexibility of perspective.

Drawing that line of demarcation through art, artist, and artifice; it is typically context that will be employed to make the case.

From Plato and Socrates leading to Aristotle the idea came that a thing "in and of itself" had an essence in which that thing would be "the thing" given the proper conditions. Correct me if I am wrong here, but would not the perspective of the audience be the condition from which a thing would be the object (in this case "a game"), based on the conditional response of the audience from which the game would be played? It is not a game as object if it is not played, but at it's core it is a game in it's essence.

Locke is the quintessential empirical frame, "it is what it is". So as such one when engaging a product as "a game", engages it as it is, by design, a game. Following suit then it would seem that the debate is not one of "is it a game", rather... "to what extent" is it a game, as it is.

The compatibility here thus is that it is a game, but to what extent it is a game is one of interaction with the product itself and for the audience at that given time to make a judgement call on it "at that time", as "to what extent" it met the criteria of what constitutes a game.

Returning then to Plato's aesthetics art is imitation. If Asura's wrath is copied or imitated as time moves forward then in it's essence it was both a game and artful, it inspired.

Moving forward to Locke, if it is not copied, if it had no merit, or it was the final copy then it is a prototype. One that will vanish along with whatever merit it did or did not have as being "what it is". It's still a game, it just wasn't good enough to pro-generate through the fourth dimension in new and interesting iterations.

Using the paradox of the ship as an anecdote is clever, but seemingly fails upon inspection as so many paradoxes do. That is to say, there are no such things as paradoxes, only lacks of information in which a paradox appears as an illusion to perspective without an experience to justify "the given". An ontological premise without a sufficient epistemology to justify the notion.

That is, a product sold at a toy store as a game... is a game. Without the epistemology (the experience of it's play), the ontological priority of the product cannot be justified.

The same was true for the ship. The folk talking about it didn't build it, nor did they sail it, nor did they have any adventures on it... thus it is a paradox from a lack of experiential information concerning the device. There is no context.

However, those that do build ships, and sail on ships, and transport goods on ships copied what was best of that ship's essence, and today... we have ships. The "shipness" of the ship lives on through the imitation of those qualities of the ship.

Leaving us with the "test of time" to proof the question... to what extent. Oh, it's a game... but maybe it was a sucky game?

anthony87:
Bah, let the complainers complain. I fucking loved Asura's Wrath and even said as much out loud and wide eyed when Asura and Akuma/Oni are flying around inside the moon having a 500 year long DBZ/ Hokuto No Ken style fight.

The weird thing is, if all the features were described to me as well as the playtime I would have thought I was getting ripped off. Yet when playing it I didn't feel that way.

It is an interesting experiment and I hope they try again. Maybe add a bit more game.

This is a fascinating article. I also see that is has lead to other people putting in their philosophical two cents on this matter. So, here is mine: The game stopped being a game when you spent more time watching it rather than playing it. That makes it an interesting combination of gaming and movie watching, but it doesn't fit well into either category. It's a novelty that should not be repeated, by any stretch of the imagination.

The boat comparison simply didn't work at all. Plutarch's question really doesn't apply to the point you were trying to make.

Now that's a dramatic cover picture.

Games are not locked in 4th dimentionally (as the article suggests) for two reasons.
1) Games bug out, or they lose info, or (as the article handwaved) the disk or data can become damaged.
2) You say a game is merely 0s and 1s, but that isn't strictly true. If you just wrote those numbers on a page, it would not produce a game, and we still depend on hardware to convert/display those numbers in the form of a game. This is no different from the ink and pages required to convey a story, or the VCR to play a tape (and the tape itself, to portray the movie), so games are just as vulnerable to time.

One could argue that ideas or concepts are infinite, but is the film Star Wars a concept? Or is it a video? It's a combination of the two, and that's how games are similar to other mediums.

To me, it comes down to what part of an object we view as its identity.

Theseus's ship is a ship. That's the form the object itself takes. And there are many ships. And we could make more just like it. None of them, however, would be Theseus's ship save the first. The ownership is part of the identity of the ship. But not all of it, as another ship owned by Theseus wouldn't still be considered equivalent to this ship.

How about the wood itself? Well, doubtlessly the ship underwent some repairs during its time, so much of the original material is gone regardless of any further restoration. Yet we still consider it Theseus's ship. So the material is important in that it still looks and feels like Theseus's ship, but the individual identity of each component isn't necessary to the holistic identity of the ship.

And, to me, the answer is what I call the "Darrin Principle," after Darrin Stephens from Bewitched.

Darrin's character was played by two different actors. Dick York played Darrin first. A back injury made it impossible for him to continue, so he was replaced by Dick Sargent. For the purposes of the show, however, Darrin Stephens was still Darrin Stephens. The other characters behaved as though he was Darrin, and he still had the same personality and role in the show. The character was being played by a different actor, but one similar enough (even in first name) that the concept of the character was able to continue unchanged.

Any given object we encounter is really just an "actor," playing a "character" in our lives. It is a physical representation of the mental concept we have of the object. The better we know this object, the more defined this concept becomes, and the more rigid our demands from the concept's physical manifestation (the object itself).

Changing, removing, or substituting materials is similar to changing the actor's hairstyle, wardrobe, or even the entire actor. But as long as the concept of the original object (character) remains the same, and nothing about the new or missing material (actor) directly undermines that concept, the object's "character" remains unchanged.

And, as with the Darrins, mileage varies from person to person. To some, adding an outboard motor to Theseus's ship wouldn't change the fact that it's still Theseus's ship. Some would be unhappy if you replaced a single nail. It comes back to how familiar one is with the original, and how rigid their concept of that object's "character" has become.

So, going back to Asura's Wrath: If a person's concept of the game focused primarily on the story, a gameplay change could be forgiven. If a person's concept of the game relied more heavily on the mechanical experience of play, not so much. This leaves us an answer that's a bit of a non-answer:

Would it still be the same game? To some.

It does beg the question, what is a videogame, or any piece of computer software? Ones and zeros on a DVD? The code and files loaded into RAM memory, what you see on the screen and what you hear, and what part of it? There is really nothing physical that defines the identity of computer software, so how to identify it? Physically, it is zero dimensional. Does it exist? It is kind of like music or movies, except they can be measured. Your pirated file can be compared to a variation of the original, and determined by computer algorthms if they are the same thing, even if the data is different, such as different resolutions or levels of compression. By that standard, it is only the sequence of 1s and 0s that defines computer software. I guess identity is determined by what is identifiable. Circular logic FTW.

Back on topic: Dragons Lair is a more distilled example of your point. Take away the video and sound, and you have a game that is quick time events, sometimes simple and sometimes more complex, but nothing more than the computer version of simon says. Do you love playing simon says with your friends? Hopefully not since kindergarten, but that is what we get with quicktime event driven games. Still, it is a game that has withstood the test of time and is still being ported to major operating systems and computational devices as they come forth. Heavy Rain follows in its footsteps.

It is a game because quick time events are gameplay. Not very fun gameplay IMHO, but still gameplay. Like every game it is a mix of gameplay and content, and the better each is, the better the overall experience, but good games can prefer one over the other.

We do see a diminution of gameplay over time, like with FPSs which is pretty simplified gameplay, to the point those who prefer more complex gameplay might fear the loss of it altogether, but not to the point we can say they aren't actually games.

My point is: it is best to avoid absolute boolean logic here, i.e. is it a game or not a game? Sure, Asura's wrath is a game, but the gameplay isn't very complex, and it can be critiqued as such even if not totally dismissed, and one can enjoy the experience yet still feel there is room for improvement in Asura's Wrath 2.

Asura's Wrath was a fun interesting experience it just didn't have any replay value once it was done.

FYI, Headline on the front page of the site says SON'T. Just a major typo that needs to be changed to DON'T.

Tenmar:
FYI, Headline on the front page of the site says SON'T. Just a major typo that needs to be changed to DON'T.

Ditto

Setting aside the question asked and the question that comes from your statements are two different questions, it's an interesting idea.

If I took Fallout 3, and altered something, it remains Fallout 3--just a modded version. Distinct from the original, and yet still the original. However, if I changed the location, a relatively small change, considering, to something like the Mojave desert, then it becomes a different game, as the setting change creates around it different circumstances, different characters, and different tools. All of this came as a result of a simple change. However, I could mod Fallout 3's texture so that it looked like Aperture labs, and this would be significantly different, and yet, still wholly Fallout 3--just not the precise Fallout 3 that was first seen. In much the same way our temporal selves can be different while the entire self is the same, a game can be changed in many ways without it ceasing to be that particular game.

So, had they added more actual gameplay to Asura's Wrath, it would remain Asura's Wrath; just an Asura's Wrath with more gameplay.

mockenoff:
By asking yourself these questions, you've taken the first steps towards becoming the smartest guy in the room.

I just wanted everyone to know, I am the only guy in the room.

But no, seriously we have had story driven games from the get go, I mean look at tabletop RPGs depending on what game you are playing, you may never actually role a die in an entire session, doesn't mean you are not in a game, it is just narrative based, more often than not these are the most fun parts of a tabletop RPG.

BehattedWanderer:
However, if I changed the location, a relatively small change, considering, to something like the Mojave desert, then it becomes a different game, as the setting change creates around it different circumstances, different characters, and different tools.

If you installed a mod in Fallout 3 that changed every proper noun to a different name, I'd say you still have Fallout 3. If you changed the story, characters, and location--I'd say you have at least DLC, and maybe Fallout 4.

Here's the issue. This is a fantastic piece of writing, but it semi misses the point. As everyone else did.

This game could be aptly described as 'Devil May Cry' meets 'Dragon's Lair' in Neo-Feudal India.

People were expecting Neo-Feudal 'God of War'.

There is no question that Dragon's Lair is a game. You do things. It's a constant test of your reflexes, as Asura's Wrath was an occasional test of your reflexes at times (like 'Are you paying attention? because right now you should DODGE [press X]')! Everyone and their mother thought Asura's Wrath was going to be a more over the top God of War of pure growling action. They might have gotten that about 50% of the time. So to them, it's a disappointment.

I don't know... is it still television if you're not watching it?

I don't know about you but I usually PLAY games whenever they are there to be played.

Fearzone:

BehattedWanderer:
However, if I changed the location, a relatively small change, considering, to something like the Mojave desert, then it becomes a different game, as the setting change creates around it different circumstances, different characters, and different tools.

If you installed a mod in Fallout 3 that changed every proper noun to a different name, I'd say you still have Fallout 3. If you changed the story, characters, and location--I'd say you have at least DLC, and maybe Fallout 4.

To say nothing of New Vegas.

I enjoyed Asura's Wrath, it's a different kind of game alright but this article is just wierd... fancy terminology doesn't make an article better.

I loved Asura's Wrath.
It was a fun and fantastic game to both watch and play

It falls in the same category as Metal Gear Solid 4 as far is this article is concerned, but they are both great games in my opinion none the less.

That being said I'd rather CAPCOM dish out games like Asura's Wrath rather than a crappy and incomplete fighting game that'll be released about 3 times with every down payment I make on the next game.

I would be showing blatant naivete if I didn't say that Asura's Wrath does indeed feel much like an interactive cartoon/anime series than an actual game. I had to stop reading the article about a quarter into it though, simply because of how... off it sounded.

I mean, c'mon... how can you hate anything that has you kill a god the size of a fucking PLANET using only your bare (metallic) FISTS?!

A question for everyone else, if I may: why is that Asura's Wrath continuously gets lambasted for having "no gameplay" while there's no mention whatsoever of Heavy Rain? Granted, I've never played the game and don't intend to, so I'm pretty certain I'm missing something here...

If the object in question is "My computer" then yes, it did stay the same even when I added the second video card.

Well, there are some Visual Novels with literally no gameplay, not even route choices, just linear text and pictures, and they still get identified as "games" that you "play".

Though that verb, "play" is also used for lot's of non-interactive things: to play a record, to play a certain number on the guitar, etc. It's sort of a catch-all term.

If I take a DVD of a movie, and hacked it so that it pauses and you have to press the play button every 5 minutes, does it become a game?

When does a game stop being a game?
When it becomes WOW (World of Workcraft)

 

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