Wednesday, 14 February 2007

When does the game start?

One can't help but ask the question 'what constitutes a game?' Are there elements that need to be included for an activity to constitute a game? Does it have to involve skill? Luck? Be rule-based? Include competition? Wittgenstein (in Tilgham, 1973) argued that games don't have to share all these features but can simply involve a degree of overlapping characteristics. He argues that a game can be viewed as something more akin to family resemblances than following a hard and fast formula. B Tilgham (1973) points out that the word game itself is not taught through the learning of strict criteria but by providing various examples of what a game is. Interestingly, Tilgham notes similarities in the abstract categorisation of the word 'game' to the word 'art'.

Here is one of the more recent questions that have arisen 'Are games art?' Lets us take an example of a 'game' that crosses these boundaries. Samorost and its recent sequel, Samorost2, were created by Jakub Dvorsky, a Czech graduate of Arts, Architecture and Design (Adventure Gamer, 2005). The play is minimalistic style point and click in the vein of early 90s games such as Myst. It is clear that almost all of the time has been spent on creating the artwork with only a small proportion on gameplay. As such it has more of the feeling of moving through interactive art. Does it have the characteristics of a game? There is no competition, very little skill is needed, no luck as all 'baddies' are automatically avoided but it is certainly enjoyable and does require interaction. One thing is certain, Samorost does highlight the ambiguity of the notion of game that was highlighted by Wittgenstien.

Bibliography,593/ - Retrieved 28/2/07

Wittgenstein, Games, and Art
B. R. Tilghman
The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Vol. 31, No. 4. (Summer, 1973), pp. 517-524.
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Further Reading

Playing Games with Wittgenstein (in Commentary)
John M. Ellis
New Literary History, Vol. 19, No. 2, Wittgenstein and Literary Theory. (Winter, 1988), pp. 301-308.
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