Jimquisition: It's Not A Video Game!

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It's Not A Video Game!

Addressing a common criticism leveled at certain types of video games, and explaining why they are, contrary to the criticism, still video games.

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Good morning to my lord and master. I can't help but agree with you. Provided it is interactive and requires a monitor, screen, television, ect. I would classify it as a video game. No matter if it is good or bad, it is still a video game, even if I have to use game lightly.

Anyhow, great video as always Jim, thank god for you!

I think I'm more in line with what total biscuit said about the issue. I like using the term interactive experience to talk about these kinds of games, but I don't mean it in a derogatory way. Either that or call them games but have some way to classify them as more of an experience than a mechanical challenge or something. I don't know, this is an issue that the community will eventually settle as long as people like Sterling and Total biscuit keep voicing their opinions on it. Good episode as always jim.

Also that TV you showed in animal crossing looked like an apple. If you didn't notice.

Ah how children make their own games, give them a paddle a ball and a back garden and... yup they made a game.

I don't have a TV that looked like an apple, but it kept reminding me of this

image

It disappoints me that PS Home wasn't considered a game by a lot of people. Whether it could be considered a good game or a bad game is a different topic.

I think I was almost compelled to buy Apple Products....

1

To me there's a difference between 'video game' and 'game'. Walking simulators are not games but they're video games. I know that's a bizarre thing to say, it's just the nomenclature of the term 'video game' is so fuzzy.

Thank you for this newest incarnation of the Jimquisition video game (after all, it's a piece of entertainment delivered through a digital medium, therefore it must be a video game.) I liked it so much that I decided to play the forum comment video game to tell you that. I think I go and read an ebook video game now.

(So yeah, you do need to draw a line somewhere.)

What is a game!? A miserable little pile of secrets!

But yeah, i'm getting a little sick of people arguing that video games must have failure state and needs to challenge in some way to be consider a game. I think that as long that it's interactive in some way, it can be consider a video game.

Video games are all art in my opinion, whether or not they are good art is something the audience and game critics decide. Also I would like to see this episode about Silent Hill. Because if I don't then how am I to thank God for you for doing that episode?

Saying Gone Home is a game AND using the ever-dreaded S word (subjective)? I can already hear certain "movement" hashtag frothing with rage...

In all seriousness, I agree with this episode. Those arty games are games. One can debate whether they're GOOD, but they're most certainly games. And thank you for using Animal Crossing in the argument. I've tried that myself and the "it's not a game" crowd keep insisting "that's different". Those sort of games aren't my thing, but some people like it. Some people just think "Not for me = bad", and want an excuse to write them off without actually backing up their arguments.

And now I'm off to watch my TV that looks like an apple.

I understand everyone has different tastes, but I was personally extremely disappointed by Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, since the formula was changed so much that it became boring for me. I probably would have avoided buying it if I had known at the time that it was by the Chinese Room, makers of Dear Ester. Mostly, I bought it expecting it to be scary like the dark descent, but it was just filled with poems and junk.

In any event, I'd say most of the named titles could be categorized as games since they were made specifically for game platforms and in the mind for a game-playing audience. Sure, not everyone (including myself) enjoys those story focused games, but some others might play nothing BUT those story driven games...

And heres the problem i have with your definition of modern games: all a game needs to be to be considered to be a game... is to be a game.

The very first sentence you explain to us what you think a game is you say "The modern definition of a game is simply an electronic game..."

But wheres the "game" in pieces like gone home? How do you game in something like dear esther?

Would you honestly call a bordgame where no one can loose and the only things you do is move your playpiece forward field by field and then have to draw a correspondant card for each field with story exposition on it a game?

Heck "choose your own adventure" books have considerably more gameplay elements then these pieces of barely interactable fiction yet no one calls them games.

Wich doesnt mean that the term "game" says anything about quality... heck there are alot worse experiences with games then what dear esther offers for example.

But what it boils down to it is:

Can you actually "play" with these marginally interactive stories... And that is where they simply fail. You dont "play" gone home... you simply listen to it. They tell more or less interesting stories for sure... but show me where you actually "play" with these "games".

So i politely disagree with your assesment.

Theopenmindedgamer:
What is a game!? A miserable little pile of secrets!

And for that quote you get a tip of the hat ol chap -_q

I do, however, feel relatively confident in saying that The Flowers of Robert Mapplethorpe is not a video game.

Saying that games like Dear Ester aren't games is like saying Kevin Smith movies aren't films. Film is a visual medium while Smith's films depend entirely on their writing (he's not a good visual director) but no-one would say that Dogma was anything but a film.

Yeah, always thought the "it's not a game" argument to be shallow and pointless. Thank god for you Jim.

So where would something like depression quest fall?

Good video, Jim.

Whether you have the loosest of rules or win/loss states like Dear Esther, or stricter rule sets like the console games we typically classify as games, I think the common thread between them is that we have the ability to play in them.

You might be more inclined (or maybe not!) to actually play around with/explore your world and actions in a game with loose rules, like Dear Esther (I'd argue that this is the appeal of sandbox games). With other games (JRPG's, MMOG's, fighters to an extent, most story based games, etc), you might be less inclined to play/explore the game and its mechanics, or rather/instead are more motivated to complete the outlined task to progress events or a story. Arguably, there's still room to 'play' there.

So, is this argument over now?[1]

[1] Also, is that a TV that looks like an apple???

blairs1995:
So where would something like depression quest fall?

Pretentious garbage?

Nah but seriously.. its a "choose your own adventure" book type of thing.

Only that there is only one outcome and its as interesting as a wet blanket and actually teaches nothing of substance to people who want to know what depression is.

To really understand what depressions really are you sadly have to experience themselve. Its like saying "hey i made this thing that teaches you what it feels like to have phantom pain after having your limb removed"

It simply doesnt work that way.

JSW:

(So yeah, you do need to draw a line somewhere.)

Why?

I would call them games, but would definitely add a description before it to clarify how it differs from the failure state, do something other than walk around standard.
We already do this, online only, multiplayer. The answer would be to find the appropiate word. This helps the customer. I guess some of the anger and dismissal of Dear Esther and others also comes form people expecting something traditional and they get something that doesn't appeal to them.

I think Jim missed a big opportunity here. Rather than have a discussion on what constitutes a game, what the definition is and how it can be applied across the field, he simply laid down a declarative statement and said "that's it."

For example, I'm not completely sold on the notion that "visual novels" are "video games;" be they a work by Telltale, some other independant studio, or something more Japanese and adult-oriented. I fail to see how an electronic version of the choose-your-own-adventure books I grew up with can be compared to a simulation like Animal Crossing; which may be a game, but not in the same vein as the Sims franchise.

I don't agree that Mountain counts as a game. It's a screensaver, as far as I can tell.

But I'm also not comfortable with the "failure state" definition.

I would go for something like "It requires input to work". Under that definition, Dear Esther would make it (but barely), Mountain would not. At all.

Here's a TV that looks like an apple!
http://youtu.be/NeEbtz55XYI?t=1m22s

I honestly don't see why some people get so insistent about whether or not something is a video game, I don't even mind the opinion that something isn't a game so long as it has no (explicit) failure states, with the addendum that something not being a game isn't the same as something being bad in my mind.

I will agree that far too many people simply use ''It's not even a video game!'' as a way to badmouth a game they don't like.

Jimothy Sterling:
It's Not A Video Game!

Addressing a common criticism leveled at certain types of video games, and explaining why they are, contrary to the criticism, still video games.

Watch Video

Here's a TV that looks like an apple.

More on topic:
I disagree, for the most part. I don't think "walking simulators" qualify as games, because games already have a definition. According to Google:

game
noun
1.a form of play or sport, especially a competitive one played according to rules and decided by skill, strength, or luck.

This definition is fairly clear, and as there's nothing to be "decided by skill, strength, or luck" in the so-called "walking simulators", I cannot in good conscience call them a game. That doesn't make them any better or worse as experiences in and of itself though; it just makes them not qualify under the definition of "game". Of the pieces you named in the video, the only one I've played is The Stanley Parable, and I absolutely adore it. It's one of my favorite samples of any form of media of all time. It's an amazing commentary on game design and player interactivity. From where I sit, it's one of the finest examples of artistic achievement in recent years.

That doesn't make it any more of a game though.

I would love to see you and totalbiscuit debate this issue, considering how you both have pretty different opinions about it, personally I don't really care enough about this to have a real opinion.

For some reason I want to buy a tv that looks like a apple.

Just a thought - last time I played a Pokemon game it wasn't possible to get game over. The worst that happened was you black out and have to walk to the person who beat you up to try again. Does this mean the whole Pokemon series doesn't count?

moggett88:
Just a thought - last time I played a Pokemon game it wasn't possible to get game over. The worst that happened was you black out and have to walk to the person who beat you up to try again. Does this mean the whole Pokemon series doesn't count?

Blacking out like that is a failure state. You lose money and progress is stalled every time you black out.

"Failure state" doesn't mean "Game Over". It means "You are denied something".

Oh my god, I've been trying to remember the name of the magazine (very loose definition) your occasional odd piece of artwork has come from for ages Jim and "The Ancestral Trail" finally just popped back into my head. Real trip down memory lane, and wasn't some of the artwork a little... odd for a serial aimed at kids?

How do I put this... I agree with what Jim says, in that I don't think games should be discarded on the basis of lacking failure states or enemies or even, by and large, strictly defined conflict or obstacles.

But I also think the makers of these games could have done themselves a big favor by defining some language to describe themselves early on. If nothing else, it might have avoided the sense that some seem to have gotten that there was some sort of attempt to "deceive" gamers- that Gone Home was supposed to be a horror experience, or that Dear Esther or Stanley Parable, having started with the Half-Life 2 engine, ought to have been first-person shooters.

It's been pointed out more than once that we're in the process of muddying genres in gaming, such that games are increasingly described as "fighter with RPG levelling and stats" or "First-person shooter with survival horror elements", etc. But even as the language gets vague, I think there's still room for tinkering with it.

Karadalis:

Can you actually "play" with these marginally interactive stories... And that is where they simply fail. You dont "play" gone home... you simply listen to it. They tell more or less interesting stories for sure... but show me where you actually "play" with these "games".

No.... We never 'play' with game story. Like, ever (that I can reasonably think of).

Stories that happen in games...just happen. They happen due to specific events, whether by happenstance of the player's fiddling, or actions led by the game and certain motivations to such events, or somewhere in between. Story is secondary entertainment (though should lose no importance for being so, especially today). You, the player, are outside of the story, and remain there until you start making actions in the world that would spur that story on (for whatever reason; it's always at least a bit contrived).

Would Gone Home be more of a game if it did not have the story attached? If it clearly told you that it was just a 'house-exploration game'? If so, how did the introduction of a story suddenly warp that intention? If not....how far are you willing to go to perhaps hamstring the definition of a game?

blairs1995:
So where would something like depression quest fall?

Well it's a game. Actually more game like then most games people don't want to call games. It even has a health bar or it's version of one. It's basically a web game.

Good episode Jim.

I agree with you that the "non games" should be criticized just like any other game, even though I have on several occasions questioned if a game is actually even worth calling a game.

What we really need, I guess, are more ways to refer to these more non-traditional or experience focused games. Walking simulator only covers a few of them, and even then they don't really tell you much about the intention of the game - good or bad.

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