What Games Are...
November 13, 2011 2:40 PM   Subscribe

What Games Are is the name of a blog and book by game designer and deep thinker Tadhg Kelly (G+ profile). While the book is planned for release next year, Kelly has been posting in his blog and getting feedback from notables such as MeFi fav Raph Koster.

In the last few weeks Kelly has covered areas, focusing in the realm of how to execute games as art with trenchant insight and good writing. Don't miss Cars & Dolls, Interactivity Means Doing Stuff and earlier posts such as Forget the Money.
posted by victors (13 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
He discusses what games are without even nodding toward Wittgenstein? Pshaw, I say.
posted by oddman at 2:49 PM on November 13, 2011

This is an interesting blog, thanks for posting it.

His comments in the Cars and Dolls post seem to me interesting, but something niggles at me about them....

His idea of the art of the game being the art of place is intriguing. But can there by a four dimensional art of place? Maybe that's why we have such trouble with it. Games are inherently about moving through time as well as place....and movement through time is mostly a quality of narrative arts. I mean, you know, I'm sure that sunsets and sunrises and seasons and so forth were something Frank Loyd Wright took account of at Falling Water, but basically the joint ain't going anywhere. All its superlative qualities have to do with the three dimensions of space.
posted by Diablevert at 4:03 PM on November 13, 2011

Diablevert: I think your insight that 'games are inherently about moving through time as well as place' is spot on, but I respectfully disagree about that being mostly confined to narrative arts. In your Falling Water example, for instance, you too easily dismiss the pretty huge considerations of seasonal changes, movement of light, etc, not to mention the connection to time implicit in the name of the place. These sorts of things are HUGE to good architects.

Also, it's important to remember that most works of art (and it's especially obvious in architecture) create meaning for the viewer through the experience of viewing. The experience of approaching the site, entering, and walking through the interior physical space of Frank Lloyd Wright's building is an integral part of the place's meaning. It doesn't matter if the place isn't transforming, our perception of it changes as we see it from different angles and appreciate different parts in their overall context.
posted by soy bean at 5:36 PM on November 13, 2011

studying architecture before designing games always seemed like a good idea to me
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 6:04 PM on November 13, 2011

studying architecture before designing games always seemed like a good idea to me

I think studying any kind of human-centric design is good practice for designing games. Until you sit down to design your first game, you have no idea how many incredibly tiny things are happening every moment to make you happy and aware and provide you with the information you need to play.

And I think that's analogus to designing a building people live/work in. I remember the first time I made a tea pot in a ceramics class and realized that spouts, which I took utterly and completely for granted, are incredibly difficult and beautiful and beguiling. Anytime I pick up a piece of dishware these days I have to turn it over and feel it out. I made so many improbable, awful objects. I'd never stopped to think about the world of perfect copies we live in. And I bring a lot of that into my game design work. Devil's in the details.
posted by GilloD at 6:52 PM on November 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Oh, thanks so much for posting my blog here.

Diablevert: Actually I agree with you on the four-dimensional point. I wrote a post about it here:


I would not characterise it as 'narrative' however.
posted by tiedtiger at 7:04 AM on November 14, 2011

Welcome to Metafilter! I hope you stick around, this is a great place.
posted by Jpfed at 7:39 AM on November 14, 2011

Re Interactivity Means Doing Stuff:

I entirely agree with the main point, but I have to point out how much Corvus' line gets under my skin:

stories are interactive, games are also interactive, and therefore games are stories

It doesn't logically follow. Fire trucks are red, bricks are red, and therefore bricks are fire trucks. The closest alternative I can think of that does logically follow is "stories are equal to (or include) interactivity, games are exactly equal to interactivity, and therefore games are exactly equal to (or are included within) stories."
posted by Jpfed at 7:41 AM on November 14, 2011

I know what you mean. To give narrativists their due, it's not that they're setting out to confuse. They're genuinely trying to find a way to understand, create games for and educate an audience toward games which are more that "just games", and they attempt to express this as stories.

But it's an ill fit.
posted by tiedtiger at 7:47 AM on November 14, 2011

Indeed, welcome Tadhg!

Just FTR it was the last few paragraphs in Cars & Dolls and that convinced me to post about you here.

...the game gives you agency to step into a world. You have control of your agency, which functions as an extension of you and nothing more, but the world is not in your control. Like a Dali painting, the world is the artistic canvass that the player can take or leave

Really superb insight and analysis, plus written in a language I could actually understand (except for the Greek parts, but I managed to figure that out!)
posted by victors at 10:44 AM on November 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Nthing the point on the importance of movement through space and time, I tend to argue it's essentially how we experience playing games and their worlds
posted by Hello, I'm David McGahan at 6:16 PM on November 14, 2011

Cheers Victor!
posted by tiedtiger at 11:29 PM on November 14, 2011

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