By: Derek Yu

On: March 1st, 2008


Jason Rohrer, the creator of the moving and bittersweet Passage, has released a new game, called Gravitation. The basic theme behind Gravitation is “mania, melancholia, and the creative process.” To say any more, of course, could potentially ruin the experience, but I can recommend it highly.

(Thanks, Phil Fish!)

  • Zaphos

    *”It’s a mutable game rule. It isn’t part of the game world”*

    Aren’t the game rules part of the game world? I guess you might might make a distinction like ‘gravity’ is a rule and ‘dirt’ is a physical object, but I would still say they are both part of the world.

    At any rate changing rules through interactivity still seems to be taking advantage of the unique interactive nature of games as a medium.

    Actually, I’m not sure why your definition of gameplay discounts interaction with the game rules. That seems like it’s still part of what I’d consider gameplay, and certainly seems unique to interactive media.

    *”Art can be delivered through the medium of games, or games can BE art.”*


    *”Passage uses symbolic design to deliver its art”*

    Setting aside the issues of what types of interactivity count as ‘gameplay,’ I think the interactivity in Passage allows for an interesting communication of its metaphors. I can see a metaphor and then ask questions about it, and answer my questions by changing how I play the game. I can find deeper metaphors through this sort of conversational exploration. So I think that the interactive nature certainly adds to the experience, which is why I think it’s more interesting from a game design perspective than ‘baroque graphics’ or similar non-interactive, “you could have done this in another media” examples.

  • Jason Rohrer

    I’ll jump in here one more time (is anyone still reading this 101 comments down?)

    I think that BigBossSNK has a good point in there somewhere, but he’s just not stating it clearly. Plus, he may be reaching for a distinction that we haven’t considered before, so that makes it harder to understand what he’s talking about.

    I agree 100% that if we’re going to be making artgames (I use that word too, don’t know who coined it), then we need to be doing it with what I’ve been calling “game mechanics.” I generally think about the mechanics as the rules, but here a distinction between “rules” and “gameplay” is being made.

    I haven’t thought about it before, but I’m starting to see the difference between “rules” and “gameplay.” In Chess, an example rule is that a bishop can move any number of spaces diagonally. An example of gameplay is moving your bishop 4 spaces diagonally… or moving it 5 spaces. That is a choice you can make to alter the gameworld, so it is gameplay. Do I have that right?

    Stated another way, the gameplay is that which might make one person’s run through the game different from another’s run. In PacMan, do you get all the power pills right at the beginning, do you space them out throughout your time in the level, or do you save them all for the very end? The rules govern what a power pill does, but gameplay is the space of possible action sequences.

    Assuming that I do have that right, I’ll try to summon some examples from Passage and Gravitation of gameplay that has meaning.

    Okay… Gravitation is easier, I think. If, on a given mania trip up through the heights, you get too many stars before coming back down, they pile up at the bottom and are harder to move into the kiln before their scores diminish to the point of making them worthless. On the other hand, if you employ a bit of self-restraint and only get a few stars on a given trip, you will find a much smaller pile waiting for you when you return to the bottom, and they will be much easier to push into the kiln.

    World objects: stars and their resulting ice blocks

    Control given to player: how many stars to fetch on a given trip

    So, am I right? Is that clearly an example of gameplay? Player makes a choice that affects the state of the game world.

    Okay, that’s the first part. Second part is to show that this element of gameplay “promote[s] contemplation and deliver[s] a message, or excite[s] the audience’s senses.”

    Well, I at least intended this element of gameplay to be symbolic. In fact, it’s the crux of what I was trying to say. During my near-manias, I tend to make all these creative leaps and come up with all these ideas and leads (including commitments to other people, and such). After I come down from the mania, I’m often dismayed by the pile of loose ends that I need to sort through.

    I made this game, in part, to teach myself about this. To play the game well (get a high score), you need to learn to avoid creative temptation (getting lots of stars) during a mania flight. Take things a bit slower, finish each project before starting others, etc.

    My hope, as the designer, is that at first players would be tempted into fetching a chain of stars, but after dealing with the aftermath a few times, they would learn to play differently. The would then hopefully “contemplate” about how this relates to creative endeavors in their own lives.

    Okay, so does this count as gameplay used to make art?

    In Passage, the player can chose to take the spouse or not, which certainly changes the state of the game world (she either walks with you or she doesn’t). That counts as gameplay, right?

    Given that a high score can be accomplished either way (through treasure chests, solo, or through eastward exploration with the spouse), I hoped to encourage contemplation in the players about why they made the choice that they did.

  • Paul Eres

    A few notes after reading all this:

    BigBossSNK: Please start using its and it’s correctly! I normally don’t care about grammatical errors, but it’s weird and distracting to see you repeatedly use one for the other, considering how good your writing is otherwise.

    Jason: I’ll let him respond too, but I’m not sure you have his distinction between game rules and gameplay stated as exactly as he stated it, although I may be wrong about that. He said that gameplay is the control the player has over/within the game world, control over its game states. What you are equating it with is more like level design or play experience, which is something different. If you picture all of a game’s possible significant game states, and the actions necessary for the player to achieve those significant game states, etc., that’s the gameplay — a particular play-through of a game would not be the gameplay, it’d just be one instance of the gameplay.

    I also want to say I’m always disappointed when someone tries to be precise about their understanding and someone else says “that’s too narrow! you need to be more broad and fuzzy and vague!” What’s even the point of discussion if you’re going to say things like that? If you don’t agree with his precise words, disagree precisely, don’t just say he’s too precise.

  • TeamQuiggan

    “I also want to say I’m always disappointed when someone tries to be precise about their understanding and someone else says “that’s too narrow! you need to be more broad and fuzzy and vague!” What’s even the point of discussion if you’re going to say things like that? If you don’t agree with his precise words, disagree precisely, don’t just say he’s too precise.”
    I think you are talking about me, but you were being a bit to vague(snicker).
    I agree with is point about how game play makes a game an art game, I disagree that the decisions that the game designer allows, have to be discarded, as, I’m paraphrasing “game rules exist in other contexts”. So I think you took me a bit out of context, I was more then happy when he defined exactly what hoops are needed for art games.

    I agree that walking and jumping are boring game play when distilled(like Donkey Kong, as mentioned). But I think that a games as art as defined by BigBossSNK are impossible.

  • Paul Eres

    Wasn’t talking about anyone in particular, several people in this thread have gone the “you can’t define art!” route.

  • BigBossSNK

    “we consider games as art encompassing game design as a whole”

    And you’re wrong. There have been art pieces that establish rules: lighting controlled by the viewer’s proximity to the sculpture, perception dependent on angle of view, I even provided Death Note as an example of rule oriented literature. Controlling the rules isn’t something new in art. The only distinct path that games can follow as true art forms is their only distinct element from other mediums: control over the game world.

    “Aren’t the game rules part of the game world?”

    They are part of the game, not part of the game world. They are the limitations to my ability to change the world, not the world itself.

    “Choice between having a companion or not, or choice of getting too many stars and blocking your own way or not. That counts as gameplay, right?”

    A choice isn’t necessarily gameplay. If the choice revolves around the set of rules I’m going to follow, that’s control over the rule set. It’s basically a mutable rule, distinct from the game world itself. If a choice revolves around what the game world state will be, then it’s gameplay.
    The companion in the Passage is just a different set of rules applied to the game (If you have her, you get more money. If you don’t, it’s easier to navigate). The game world itself doesn’t change. I can make a choice not to get blocked by my own achievements in Gravitation, but then I’m only choosing the rules by which I’ll be playing 30 seconds from now. I’m not interacting with any in-game elements to change the game world’s state.

    “But I think that games as art as defined by BigBossSNK are impossible.”

    It’s a logical fallacy to think that no solution exists just because you are incapable of arriving at a solution.
    Art games are about controlling the game world to reach specific game world states.

  • Jason Rohrer

    Paul Eres: You’re right about gameplay not being a particular play-through, but instead the set of action sequences necessary to generate the set of all possible play-throughs. A given “move” on the part of the player (such as moving the bishop 5 spaces) would be a “gameplay action,” I think. Thanks for fleshing it out a bit more.

    BigBossSNK: What do you mean by, “Changing the game world’s state”?

    If your actions in the game world cause game objects to move from one place to another in the game world, doesn’t that count as a change in game world state?

    For example, hitting a star in Gravitation causes the star to fall to the bottom. Pushing an ice block at the bottom causes it to slide along. Hitting two stars in sequence that are vertically aligned causes them to stack up when they reach the bottom.

    These are all changes in the game world state, are they not?

    Asuming that they are, then aren’t they examples gameplay? Not mere choices, but choices about how you want to manipulate the game objects.

    I agree that “to take the spouse or not” is a little weaker as an example of changing the game world state. But if the spouse is a game object, and she certainly is, then running into her changes her state (she either stands there [one state] or walks with you [another state]).

    If you don’t think these examples qualify, please give me some other examples of “gameplay” so that I can better understand what you mean by “gameplay” vs “game mechanics”. Use any game that you wish.

    Also, I’m interested in hearing about some example games that do indeed use gameplay to make art (as opposed to using game mechanics to make art).

    This is very important to me, since it sounds like an interesting distinction that I can’t quite grasp yet. I want to make my next game even better than these last two, of course.

  • Zaphos

    *”The only distinct path that games can follow as true art forms is their only distinct element from other mediums: control over the game world.”*

    Isn’t player control over the game rules also a distinct path for games?

  • Matt

    “I’m not saying Passage didn’t work as art. I’m saying it didn’t work as an art-GAME. If art-GAMES don’t base their art state on the gameplay, they are just art delivered through the new medium of games, not art-GAMES.”

    Passage was effective because of the distinction between which portions of the game’s output you could control through your input, and which portions you could not. Its central message hinged on this distinction. If Passage were not a game, this distinction would not have existed, thus destroying the central message.

    If a piece of art is entirely dependent on its being a game in order to be art, then it is an art-game. Most games fail this test– if there is anything artistic about them, it is something that would just as easily be communicated through recorded gameplay and/or cutscenes.

    “Passage uses symbolic design to deliver it’s art, and is as such a game that operates as a medium for art.”

    I disagree that Passage is a medium for art– Passage is art. Its response (and lack of response) to player input is part of the art. (I don’t know what you mean by “symbolic design” in this context.)

  • BigBossSNK

    “What do you mean by, “Changing the game world’s state”?”

    To clarify:
    The game world is the set of mutable and immutable objects operating under the rules of the game.
    From which, trivialy, the game world state is the assortment of game objects and their states at any given time.
    Mutable objects that the gamer can interact with are part of the gameplay. Immutable objects or mutable objects that the gamer can not interact with are not part of the gameplay, but of design.

    In Gravitation, mutable objects are: the player, the ball, the stars.
    Immutable objects: the kid, the terrain, the fireplace.

    “Isn’t dropping the blocks an example of gameplay?”
    Of course it is. What I said was, dropping the blocks does just that, it changes the position of the blocks. Your inability to later jump over the block barrier isn’t part of the gameplay, it’s a trivial extension of the rules.

    One example of what I consider an art game is “I have no mouth and I must scream”. On several occasions you are given the possibility to control other people’s suffering and even death, de facto answering ethical questions that ultimately leads to salvation or ruin.

    “Isn’t control over the rules also a distinct path for games?”

    No. Consider this.

    There is an art exhibit with a single sculpture. The audience can see the sculpture through room A or room B. Room A has ligthing intensity based on proximity, revealing different structures under different shadows. Room B has light wavelength based on proximity, allowing for ultraviolet light and revealing a second nature to the sculpture.

    The audience can control which rule is used (here in regard to lighting), even outside the domain of games.

    “If Passage were not a game, this distinction would not have existed, thus destroying the central message.”

    “Passage: the interactive DVD version” allows you to skip between getting a wife or not on the fly. Your argument that choice occurs only in games is uninformed.

    “I don’t know what you mean by “symbolic design” in this context”

    Symbolic design means using elements of the design as symbols (your position in the frame is a symbol of proximity to death, chests symbolise goals, spouse blocking your way is a depiction of inability to chase some goals etc.)

  • Matt

    ““Passage: the interactive DVD version” allows you to skip between getting a wife or not on the fly. Your argument that choice occurs only in games is uninformed.”

    I argue neither that the wife decision is the central merit of Passage, nor that choice occurs only in games.

    “Your inability to later jump over the block barrier isn’t part of the gameplay, it’s a trivial extension of the rules.”

    How aren’t the stars mutable objects with which you interact?

  • Matt

    (stars -> blocks)

  • Jason Rohrer

    BigBoss: Great example with the choose-your-own lighting sculpture. Also a great example of rules in non-games. Still, I don’t think this sculpture is “not a game” because it doesn’t have what you call “gameplay.” After all, you can take actions that change the state of the objects (lights) that comprise the sculpture. It’s not a game because it doesn’t have a goal or other measure of success. I think that if you can’t “win” or “do well at” something, than it’s not a game (win/loss condition isn’t necessary—some kind of success metric, like a score, is good enough. In the case of a win/loss condition, your score is either 1 or 0).

    Okay, so you’ve given a list of mutable and non-mutable game objects in Gravitation, and we’ve agreed that knocking stars down is certainly gameplay. What else is gameplay in my game, then? Pushing blocks, certainly (again, moving them). And pushing them to the extent that they melt in the kiln (changes their state). This also generates points (changes the state of the score, another world object). What about the score counters on each ice block (9,8,7,…,1). The longer you wait before pushing them into the kiln, the lower their score value will be. Is that gameplay? Or not, because it’s your non-action that lets the score counters decrease?

    So, am I on the right track here at sniffing out the gameplay?

    What about the simplified choice of getting either 1 or 2 stars on a given mania flight? Let’s say they don’t stack up, nor are they in adjacent vertical columns, so they won’t form a block “train” at the bottom of the screen (which is harder to push than a single block, as an application of game rules). So, you hit one star on your flight, and you end up with this:


    Where “b” is the block, and “k” is the kiln, and “_” is the floor. If instead you get two stars on your flight, you end up with:


    For the case of two blocks, you can now choose to push them into the kiln one-by-one (by standing in between them and pushing the rightmost block first), or as a train (by pushing on the leftmost block first). Due to the rules (how hard it is to push a train vs. single blocks, plus the speed at which the score counters are decremented), this choice may alter the resulting score (i.e., change the state of a world object, the score). Let’s say, as an example, that pushing them one-by-one would result in 14 points, whereas pushing them as a train would result in 12 points.

    Thus, through manipulation of the blocks, according to rules, you can manipulate the score. Of course, this simple example is just one of the many possible gameplay sequences.

    So is this all gameplay? If so, again, it all has meaning (whether you finish each project before starting work on the next, or work on them in parallel, among other things).

    Thanks for the tip about “I have no mouth and I must scream.” Out of print… downloading the torrent now to give it a try.

    I will abbreviate it as IHNM for the rest of this comment.

    So, what about IHNM the interactive DVD version? Would that be possible? Where you can either kill or not kill someone, and the DVD just shows the result of both options. How is IHNM more comlex than what I am describing?

    In Passage, the “choice of whether to take the spouse” was just a simple example. Even after you make that choice to take the spouse, there’s a huge possibility space open to you (go after treasure with the spouse or not? which treasure chests to go after? go after a few treasure chests solo before taking the spouse?) Certainly there would not be space on a DVD to represent all of the possible permutations.

    I know you are not arguing that Passage and Gravitation are devoid of gameplay. But you seem to be arguing that the gameplay is devoid of artistic meaning.

    Please give an example of what you see as the gameplay in Passage and Gravitation, and why that gameplay is devoid of artistic meaning.

  • aeiowu

    Jason, i really don’t think it’s worth pushing these blocks into the hearth, they can just stay frozen. You made an awesome game full of meaning, the fact that this is stirring so much conversation means you succeeded. There will always be people frozen from your message.

    ps. The fact that that terrible metaphor in my first sentence made any modicum of sense to anyone reading this means Jason imbued his game, its objects, and the experience as a whole with meaning developed by the game rules, not direct ham-handed forms of literal expression.

  • Jason Rohrer

    aeiowu: Right, and I normally stay out of these discussions.

    It just seemed that I might learn something useful from this one.

  • BigBossSNK

    “How aren’t the stars / blocks mutable objects with which you interact?” I list the stars as mutable objects. Partly because they transform into blocks. No need to reiterate the blocks as separate mutable objects.

    “You can take actions that change the state of the objects (lights) that comprise the sculpture” The lights don’t comprise the sculpture. They only set limits to your perception – they act as rules, they don’t effect the physical reality of the sculpture.

    “Games need some kind of success metric to exist” No. A shmup without score that goes on forever is still a game.

    “The score is a game object”
    The score is part of the rules, not the game world. (much like any programming related variable is primarily part of the design, not the gameplay). It only becomes a game world object when the game world state changes depending on my score, in effect acting as a currency for game world change (e.g. if I accumulate 10 good deeds, the flowers bloom).

    “Is choice over having one block on the ground or two gameplay?”

    To make it clear, let’s consider the action’s constituent parts.

    A. Pushing the blocks. This is gameplay. You change the position of the blocks, changing the game world state.

    B. Choosing between two game world states. This is gameplay. Control over the game world is the very definition of gameplay.

    C. Choosing between the game rules I want to operate under. This isn’t gameplay. I am not controling the state of anything in the game world.

    Now let’s examine whether A, B and C are art.

    A. It’s no more art than in any block based puzzle.

    B. Also no more art than in any block based puzzle.

    C. I have to choose between difficulty of moving blocks, and extend of gratification. The symbolism is there, this is art.

    “How is INHM different than Passage?”
    In INHM my actions can change the game world, and these changes are persistent. Later parts of the story can even be blocked. In Passage, the game world is the same, only my rules for interaction with it change.

    “Even without the wife choice, there’s a huge possibility space open to you in Passage”
    Choosing between randomly generated crate A and randomly generated crate B isn’t a huge possibility space. It’s an empty choice. Furthermore, it’s an empty choice with no significance beyond the existence of the crate in the game world. Its value AS GAMEPLAY is no more than the gameplay of Mario gaining an easy or hard to reach coin in Super Mario. The symbolism is there, but the gameplay isn’t art.

    “Examples of gameplay in Passage”
    Navigate scenery. Get chests.

    “Examples of gameplay in Gravitation”
    Navigate scenery. Play ball. Get stars. Push blocks.

    The games do have symbolism in their design, but the gameplay options I have don’t change the game world beyond the obvious (get chest-chest disappears). If I could change the world into a prettier place by finding the chest of “Cure cancer”, that would be a control mechanism that affects the rest of the game world.

    “I really don’t think it’s worth pushing these blocks into the heat, they can just stay frozen.”
    The point of this discussion is to come to a clear understanding of what art games are, and what games as art mediums are. If you want to cling to ignorance, don’t read the discussion.

  • torncanvas

    Yeah, I have to say, my curiosity is certainly piqued by trying to understand the point you’re trying to make BigBoss. I mean at first you were kind of being an asshole about it, but now there’s seems to be a good discussion going on. This started off with a fundamental problem of logical debate, which is that those debating have assumptions and definitions that weren’t defined up front. So now those need to be understood by everyone so everyone can go to the logical meat of the argument.

    But I think there might be something here, so please continue to elaborate and give examples so we can understand what your assumptions, and then logical arguments, are. I’ve started to try to piece things together, and if I can help to explain things in a clearer way, I will. But maybe you have more examples you can give us?

  • torncanvas

    Ok, I think I get where you’re going with this. Thanks for giving more specific information.

    Question though: I wasn’t able to fully tell if the season cycle that affected the graphics of the platforms in Gravitation was constant or if it was determined by how excited I my avatar was. If it was determined by how excited my avatar was, would you see that as a meaningful affect on the game world, and therefore an art-game element?

    If that was true, the world around me would seem to change based on the current emotion I had, so that seems to be what you’re talking about, right?

    Also, aeiowu was speaking metaphorically with that sentence, so I wouldn’t say he’s clinging to ignorance. There’s no reason to look down on someone like that.

  • torncanvas

    Oh wait, that doesn’t count because the platforms are immutable objects, right?

  • GP Lackey

    For practical reasons the definition of ‘art game’ will always stem from intent, context, and interpretation, as it does with capital ‘A’ Art art.

    That said, I think BigBoss is hitting on something very interesting from the perspective of criticism. Why aren’t you making a game already? It’s not hard!

  • BigBossSNK

    Seeing as the topic has left the front page, and most people won’t search for it, I’ll start a forum thread (soon) clarifying all the definitions and logical tools necessary to make a valid distinction between art games and games as art mediums.

    To cut the loose end of the platforms, I’ll say they are controlled by a rule, an internal time cycle. The gamer can interfere with the cycle by playing ball and collecting stars. Why this isn’t gameplay is my hook to you reading the forum thread.

    As to why I’m not making a game, it’s because I don’t have any serious programming experience. If anyone wants to team up, I’ve got plenty of art game ideas.

  • Jason Rohrer

    So where’s that forum thread? I can’t find it.

    I wonder if you’re not mistaking the labels attached to game world objects with the gameplay. For example in IHNM, though you might chose to kill someone or whatever (I’m still on the verge of playing it—sorry), you only know that you’re “killing someone” because of the fiction attached to those world object. I.e., the game object is labeled as a “person” in the adventure game storyline, and the graphics for the object look like a person, etc. But on the abstract gameplay level, you’re really just making an “A” or “B” choice… of course you’re not really killing someone.

    In Gravitation, the blocks are symbols for creative endeavors. Getting a star means getting an idea, and pushing a block into the kiln means doing the work of turning that idea into reality. Thus, the gameplay is like “any block game”, but the blocks actually mean something, whereas the blocks in Tetris or whatever other block game don’t mean anything (even if you ask the designer).

    I left a “super mario brothers” fiction of stars and iceblocks in place, because I thought it was more interesting, but I could have easily made little “light bulb” icons for the stars and “manilla folder” icons for the “projects in progress”. Heck, I could have (and even thought about) some other mechanic to represent “working on a project” other than pushing… maybe whacking with a hammer. Of course, even that would be a metaphor.

    For my real life projects, I’m mostly typing at the computer. Would it have been “art” if I came up with a game mechanic that let you type at the computer to finish a project? No “mario-esque” block pushing…. your avatar walks up to a computer terminal and you press the “do work” key.

    I intentionally used pretty standard game objects and mechanics (getting treasure chests in Passage, pushing blocks in Gravitation), but I used them as symbols. I don’t see how metaphorical gameplay and game objects gets in the way of art.

    You seem to be saying that only literal mechanics (like, those labeled as “killing someone”) count as art, but if you’re engaging with a non-literal mechanic that is a symbol of something (like, some metaphor for killing someone—let’s say, blowing out candles), then it’s not art.

    And for most people, it’s clear that the chests in Passage represent personal goals, and that the stars in Gravitation represent ideas or creative sparks.

    You’re essentially saying, “Hey, what I’m I doing from moment to moment in this game? Pushing blocks around? That’s not art.” But in any game where you’re “killing someone”, what are you doing from moment to moment but making a simple binary choice? Only the art and the writing tells you that the choice represents killing someone (you see blood, you read their pleas for mercy, etc.)

    In games, everything is symbolic. The difference between IHNM and Gravitation may simply be the representational vs. abstract nature of those symbols.

    Of course, Gravitation is not about killing people. That’s another difference, of course.

    And I’m sorry about all the “killing people” examples… just a placeholder for “doing something literal and serious” in a game.

  • BigBossSNK

    “Where’s the forum thread?”
    I said it’ll be up soon. Possibly within the week, depending on real life engagements. I’ll comment on it here.

    “What’s the difference between killing a man in a game and getting a crate in a game”
    Short answer, consequences. It’s not the binary choice of yes or no, it’s the later lack of interaction with the character that has gone away (or the crate that disappeared). If I kill someone, he’s obviously not going to be around to help me. But if I keep him alive, I’m jeopardizing my own life. That’s a choice that affects the game world. If my path is preset, and I have to kill him (I only need to find out how, as with most adventure games), that’s not gameplay. It’s literature wrapped around a game.

    “I can use various methods to represent what the character is doing: collect stars, sit in front of a computer for a while, light a light bulb, hit something with a hammer”
    You can use any graphical method to represent an idea, or any rule you want (pressing a button, stepping on a tile, standing still). This only affects the effectiveness of communicating the idea, not the gameplay (as control over the gameworld). Your games are a metaphor for life in the graphical elements and rules you chose, and as such art. But this is design. Not gameplay.

    “And for most people, it’s clear that the chests in Passage represent personal goals, and that the stars in Gravitation represent ideas or creative sparks.”
    No argument there. It’s just that your interaction with them leads only to a change in the score, and affects the game world trivially.

  • PHeMoX

    *BigBossSNK said about 17 hours later:

    “His games have a pessimistic idea that romantic partners or family handicap one’s ambition and that there’s a choice involved between the two” True. In real life, more people in your social circle means expanded opportunities common among you. A game about life should at least partially reflect this.*

    It may not reflect all opportunities, but it does give the ability to choose. It’s about lives, but not about life so to speak. In fact, it’s a bit naive to think that it’s even possible to have added more of that to Passage considering it’s timeframe, it’s style and deadline.

    The one thing that bothers me is that some people say ‘yeah, but it’s not a game’ while others say ‘it’s a bad game and thát’s not art’. There is gameplay, there’s interaction, you even get rewarded for your actions in certain ways and the whole symbolical thing *does* easily make it more than just a simple low-res game.

    *Your games are a metaphor for life in the graphical elements and rules you chose, and as such art. But this is design. Not gameplay.*

    You seem to forget that those rules actually define the gameplay too, admittedly there’s not *much* of it, but you can’t say there’s “no gameplay”. I think people easily forget to look at these games (esp. Passage) the right way. What I’m saying is that it’s nuts to compare this game to say Tetris or Mario in terms of gameplay.

    I think what we really should ask ourselves is;

    Are games art because they have art in them or are games art because they can have incredible gameplay in them?

  • PHeMoX

    *True. In real life, more people in your social circle means expanded opportunities common among you.*

    That reminds me, I’ve never been married, but it’s a definite fact that having a girlfriend prevented me from doing certain things I definitely would have done if I didn’t have a girlfriend. To say that more people simply provides you with more opportunities, although true, is only half of the picture. The more people you know, the more you need to take care of those relationships, whatever they are. That alone takes away valuable time, that could have been spend differently. So, … I think the Passage author’s pessimism is correct actually.

  • BigBossSNK

    “you can’t say there’s “no gameplay”.”
    I never made this claim. I even gave examples of gameplay.

    “What I’m saying is that it’s nuts to compare this game to say Tetris or Mario in terms of gameplay.”
    If you think gameplay (AND ONLY GAMEPLAY) is elevated because you were metaphorically achieving your goals while collecting stars, you are either operating on a vaguer definition of gameplay than I am (in which case you ‘ll need to provide it), or, you are making a logical error.

    “The more people you know, the more you need to take care of those relationships, whatever they are”
    Not necessarily. If you go out for lunch, whether you have 2 people on the table or 3 takes exactly the same time. It can even lead to faster bonding when there are more people around.

    “I think the Passage author’s pessimism is correct actually”
    That depends on whether what you gain is more valuable than what you lose. It’s not a matter of opinion, it’s a matter of sociological and psychological facts.

    You know what, fuck this. Even if I do make a forum thread, I’m only going to have to defend it from people who read half the comments, or twist what I say only to disappear when I explain things logically. I think the best means of approach here is to release a game idea of my own, of games as art. A physical fact is much easier to defend than a theory, even if the latter is in 1:1 correspondence to reality.

  • torncanvas

    BigBoss, I for one am glad that you lasted as long as you did. I appreciate that you continued to explained things more.

    The distinction you’re trying to make was hard to understand at first, but I think I get it now that you’ve explained your definitions more. Thanks for your effort.

    I think you make a good point, although I feel that there’s still plenty value in “games as a medium for art.”

    You’re totally right about making a game, though. Your game (along with your thoughts on developing the game) will speak loudly. I hope you make that game. :)

    Would you mind e-mailing me in case I have more questions about how you view art-games? My email is my username

    Or you can visit the blog and contact me that way. Thanks.