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Errant Signal – The Stanley Parable

By Shamus
on Monday Dec 2, 2013
Filed under:
Video Games


I wanted to talk about this game when I played through it, but everything I wanted to say about the game boiled down to, “Did you get to the part where [thing] happened? Yeah. That was hilarious.” It would be gibberish to people who haven’t played the game and a pointless re-tread to those who have. The game says what it says, and there’s not much I can add to it.

But Chris has lots of things to say about it!

Link (YouTube)

We need a name of this emerging genre. Dear Esther. Stanley Parable. Proteus. Setting aside the annoying argument over whether or not these are “Games”, they’re certainly things you “play” on the computer. What do we call these things with exploration as the only gameplay mechanic? I mean, I suppose we can call them “exploration games”. But that would be boring, accurate, and clear. I feel like we need a genre name that’s just as stupid and meaningless as “RPG”.

I vote we call them “gunless shooters”.

Comments (168)

  1. Aidinthel says:

    Totalbiscuit advocated “virtual installation”, which I thought was pretty meaningless.

    • Mumbles says:

      This is unpopular, but when TB talks about games that aren’t games it really grinds my fucking gears.

      • The Mich says:

        YES this is so true. I was watching his video on Dear Esther and he was saying all the friggin’ time “This is not a game.” And each time I was thinking “YES IT IS SHUT UP”. So frustrating. And bear in mind that I think that Dear Esther is quite flawed.

        • kdansky says:

          You’ve just done exactly what he did. Congratulations.

          • Zukhramm says:

            Saying a game is not a game is the exact same thing as saying a game is a game.

          • The Mich says:

            I realise it might seem like that, but the point here is not asserting if something is a thing or not, but avoiding to exclude games on the base of personal and arbitrary criteria. Shouldn’t it be better if we were inclusive towards games and avoid reactions like “This was marketed as a game, THEY LIED”.

            • Scampi says:

              Well, it’s not that I’d care about excluding any of the mentioned media from anything or criticize them for not being what they are advertised as, but I for one like to work with meaningful definitions, which might in some cases need a little stretching, but just including everything under one term, just because a proper term is not invented yet, is just lazy. If a working definition is not large enough to add something to it, we need to reconsider whether a) the definition is not broad enough (for unjustified reasons) or b) there is another definition that DOES contain it. If we realize that neither a) nor b) works, we may need a new defined category for said thing.

            • bloodsquirrel says:

              See, that kind of reaction is a good case for why we need higher resolution terms for everything that anyone calls a video game.

              The fact that those people got something which they feel was falsely advertised to them is a real problem. One that could have been avoided if clearer terms were being used.

              The purpose of language is to communicate. If the language being used is leading to miscommunication, then it should be reevaluated.

              • Mcgurker says:

                Well now, the trouble is you can’t do a thing like “reevaluate” language. And in fact, having “more clear” terms is impossible, because the more you have, the more you’ll find people saying “wait what does that mean again? Is this X or Y I can never remember the difference?” as well as different marketing usages, all because these things are really subjective among many other reasons. Aaaaaaaaaanyhoo, the problem is these people bought a game they didn’t fully research, which is the only way you can find out if you’ll like a thing or not with any reliability.

                Good lord Shamus, you have it save the text. You angle.

                • bloodsquirrel says:

                  Poppycock! Language changes all the time. Especially among small groups. Remember when “selfie” wasn’t a word?

                  Besides, by telling people that they should call things like Dear Esther a video game you’re already trying to change the language they use.

                • Thomas says:

                  It’s very hard to change the definition of a word deliberately, but it’s much easier to bring a word into existence deliberately.

                  If Shamus’ idea of having a name for a Dear Esther type genre happened, I would argue that it would solve our problems nicely. No-one would be buy a game incorrectly because they know the ‘Exploring’ genre isn’t one they’re interested in. Games don’t get marginalised or criticised just for existing because respecting genre boundaries is already a widely accepted and used practise

                  • Paul Spooner says:

                    “…No-one would be buy a game incorrectly because they know the “˜Exploring' genre isn't one they're interested in…”
                    Which is the real reason the ambiguity exists. Marketing doesn’t clearly label their games because they think of their audience as hapless rubes, dupes, or illiterates with too much money, more likely to make a purchase based on hype than cognition. While this clearly isn’t true of the whole market, it seems to be true for enough to encourage the practice.

                    The few games that do clearly describe their content still do well of course, but this simply encourages look-alikes to dilute the terms. Sadly, making a quality game of a popular type is much more difficult than making a crap game and labeling it with a popular label. It’s not the only reason, but it seems to pay well, so I wouldn’t discount it.

      • newdarkcloud says:

        I feel the same way. I think the distinction is pretty meaningless and a waste of time.

        I like TB, but we simply do not agree on this.

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        That is a shame.Hope your other gears work well.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      I for one support our new terminology. Calling every piece of interactive entertainment on a computer “a game” doesn’t seem helpful to me. I’d much prefer “Digital art installation” (or DAI for short (pronounced “Die”)) when applicable to the more general (and thus less useful) term “game”.

      Ultimately though, you have to accept the terminology as given, by whoever you want to communicate with. If you don’t want to communicate with TB, that’s fine, but looking down on attempts to clarify language isn’t helping anyone.

    • salty-horse says:

      Chuck Jordan seems to agree, comparing Gone Home to a museum exhibit. Engaging and thought-provoking, but keeps you a passive observer.

  2. Thearpox says:


    After all, there’s no way those games will ever be made in third-person, right? I know I’m right.

  3. Hitchmeister says:

    My first thought was FPW for “First Person Wanderers.” Because that’s what you do. You wander around. Then I reminded myself that planetary originally meant wandering stars. So then I decided we should fit “planetary” into the name for the express purpose of confusing the issue. It seems appropriate that something we can’t really define or explain should have a name deliberately chosen to sound like something completely different than what it is.

  4. Sean Riley says:

    I actually don’t mind ‘Digital Installation’. That’s… actually remarkably apt. They are essentially installation artworks as a game.

    And I just want Stanley to come to Mac. Stanley, come here! I loved you so much in mod form. :(

    • X2Eliah says:

      Ugh. Big problems with that we already have a vastly specific use for “installation” in computing.

      Hell, my whole OS is a digital installation. Any new driver I install is a digital installation. Literally every software on modern OS’s is digital and more often than not, it’s installed.

      • ET says:

        Every time TB said “installation”, this is what popped into my head.
        If somebody’s going to make the distinction between the (warning: touchy subject) “games” vs “not-games”, then I’d use something more like…
        virtual art piece?
        video art piece?

        • Daemian Lucifer says:

          Except that games already are an art.This would only transfer the problem of thinging of these games as not games to thinking of planescape torment as not art.

          • Scampi says:

            Wrong. Games are not art, but are often coated in elements of art for context.
            The story told by any video game? Context to why you take part in the gameplay.
            The beautiful board used to play the various versions of snakes and ladders? Context and visualization of gameplay mechanics.
            Planescape Torment is, as lots of games, packaged in visual, narrative and acoustic art, but the game itself might be played without any “art” at all.

            • Zukhramm says:

              Having components that are art on their own does not disqualify the whole from being art.

              • Scampi says:

                Sure it doesn’t-but we need to realize that, say a movie, which is a visualized method of narration, can be stuffed with music, impressive and interesting visuals, acting and possibly more-it still is a movie, which is a piece of art.
                A game is, first and foremost, a collection of rules that govern the behaviour of the players taking part in it, under certain conditions. Planescape Torment IS a piece of art, but only due to the contextualization that is provided to the game’s rules by means of art, not by its rules themselves. I don’t deny the value of a specific game as an artpiece, but the notion of “games” in general and just by being games, being art.

                • Scampi says:

                  To make it shorter: the game itself is created by its underlying rules. The context is art. This makes an individual game a piece of art, but not games by their very nature.

                  • Zukhramm says:

                    Yeah, but the same can be said of a painting. It’s not the bouncing of different wavelengths of photons that makes it art.

                  • Daemian Lucifer says:

                    All art came from some tool being used for some other purpose.Yet we still consider paintings to be art in general,despite the fact that most paintings are used for other purposes,like ads,for example.

                    • ET says:

                      Yeah, but nobody goes around calling advertizements “paintings”, do they?
                      They’re advertizements, which may or may not contain paint, but which nobody cares about, because the content is advertizement.
                      The medium upon which that advertizement is portrayed is largely irrelevant.
                      The reason we do call artistic paintings simply “paintings” is because there’s really no other use for the word “painting” which would conflict with that; All the other things which happen to contain paint, are referred to by the labels appropriate for the content which the paint is delivering.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              Oh,so movies are not art because they have elements of art,right?A painted sculpture is also not art because it is composed of two art styles,right?A song with both music and lyrics is also not art because it is composed from poetry and music,right?

              And you know what other art can be “used with no art in it”?This.This.This as well.And lets not forget that this was also “used without any art in it”.So I guess that makes pottery,painting,music and architecture all not art,right?

              • Scampi says:

                If you built a car and painted beautiful pictures on its sides, had a pretty figurehead that’s nice to behold and which played Beethoven instead of making the common sounds of a car, would it make “cars” in general art? If you apply “was created using means of art forms” in general as a qualifier for being art, there would barely be anything made by man left as “not art”, making any definition including “art” pretty meaningless, wouldn’t it? This is why I try to separate the practical part of “I built a car/created a game” from “and this specific car/game is a piece of art because I applied x to it”.
                Yes, the things you linked to ARE art, but they are also (partially) tools, which need to fulfil functions. A colourful piano is a piece of art, for it is crafted carefully by someone who practices an art, and because it has been painted by someone who may also consider his work an art. But to fulfil its function of being a piano, it needs not look beautiful. So, its attribute of being colourful doesn’t add to its function, but adds another layer of being a piece of art.

              • Scampi says:

                Btw: ironically, I wasn’t able to listen to Beethoven’s 5th on Youtube for living in Germany;) funny, how the GEMA (a German conglomerate deciding about musical IP in Germany) prevents me from listening to valuable culture…I’m not sure if the YT-homepage alone qualified as art, but I guess parts of it do, even without Beethoven.

            • Cybron says:

              So now games are just their gameplay, and not a cohesive package of elements? What a bizarre world you must live in.

              • Scampi says:

                Well, it’s completely possible (for some people) to play chess without any artistic backdrop of a playing field and pieces, just in their mind, knowing the rules of the game. Does that make their playing the game invalid and turn it into something completely different, as they apply no artistry to their game?
                Yes, I stand to that: a game by itself IS a layer of rules and I don’t think I live in a bizzare world for this.
                I do live in a bizarre world for lots pof other things, though.

                • Zukhramm says:

                  Well disagree them, because I see the names and shapes of the pieces as just as much a part of the game as the rules.

                  But, let’s say we have someone with the ability to completely disregard images as depicting something. Does the existence of this person make all movies non-art, as they are able to view the only as blobs of color jumping around?

                  Does me hearing a poem in a language I don’t know make it non-art?

                  • Scampi says:

                    a) The shapes and names of said figures are part of the contextualization of the game’s rules. I might create a game called, say 8×8, call each piece by a name only indicating its starting position and have them be able to perform certain movements/change their states in certain ways. Incidentally, these “movements” would appear to be the exact movements that we know from chess. Will the game still work in the same fashion? Yes, it will. Because the actual look of the figures is contextualization, which makes it easier to understand the rules. It would be annoying to learn a game that needs you to understand that b1, g1, b8 and g8 (hope I didn’t screw that one up;) ) are able to change their state by a value of “+2/+1” or “+1/+2” or “-1/-2” etc. on each move, but THAT is actually a rule in chess, and it’s easier to say that the knight moves “2 fields forward, 1 to the side” etc.
                    If I lost the knights of my game, would it be inexcusable to replace them with buttons and called them the same, just so I could play? It might feel cheaper, but the game’s essence would not be destroyed.

                    b) How exactly does the argument about the guy being able to “disregard images depicting something” help us in any way possible? I don’t see the merit in the argument and I’ve thought about it quite long-maybe I just don’t understand it, maybe it’s really not helpful. If it’s the first: help me understand it please.
                    Else I’d even think that you further my argument, as I say that the shapes and names of said pieces in chess are mere representations depicting something, while you say they are essential. By trying to separate the “art” from the “game”, I specifically grant value to the artistic parts of a game and their great service of providing context to a game that, else, might be horribly dull.
                    Said person in your example wouldn’t be able to grasp the concepts of the pieces and therefore lack contextualization. They’d probably have a very hard time grasping the rules, but they would, after sufficient time, also have the possibility to play chess, even with pieces that look nothing like the ones generally used. I remember an episode of Hikaru no Go, where both players (in Go) play with stones of the same color. Usually, the colors in these types of games distinguish the stones/pieces of each player. If you remove the colors-does the game disappear? Everything artistic in a game is just representation of underlying principles/rules, which wouldn’t change just because their representation changes. The game would still exist, as long as the original rules are intact.

                    c) As I said before: for some individual piece/movie/game etc. to be art, it doesn’t need ALL of this type to be art. If my uncle paints a house (his actual daytime job), he doesn’t think he’s creating art. But he applies the same methods of a brush and colours to paint a house, right? As (also) said before: turning basically everything into art doesn’t help us come to useful definitions as to what IS art and what is not. As a friend of mine once said: “If everything were blue, blue would cease to exist.” (Not too profound, but helping to make my point, I hope)

                    • Cybron says:

                      Your separation of a rule set from the physical medium used to play it is highly arbitrary. I see no reason why I should not consider a game both its rules and component pieces.

                    • Scampi says:

                      The answer: because you would still be able to play the same game without the EXACT and detailed pieces usually used to play the game. Chess is by convention played with a certain set of pieces, but in need I’m free to use something else, as long as the other player is okay with it.
                      I’m free to play Parcheesi without dice, as long as I have a reliable means of following the rules, randomizing a number between 1 and 6.
                      Contrary, I’d say it’s highly arbitrary to say that games (per se) always and without fail include artistic elements, when there are games that don’t even include any artistic elements at all, like a prisoner dilemma game.
                      I’d also potentially be able to play the Baldur’s Gate or Neverwinter Nights Games without even using a computer, because the rules can be separated and I might go and find myself a party of D&D players with whom to play the exact campaigns of these games. They’d still contain narrative elements, so I might break them down even further: I won’t give the players context why they are fighting their enemies. You know what? I can still break it down and turn it into a game of dice without any enemies at all, where I roll dice by certain rules against their dice and we compare numbers to decide whether we continue the game or finish it and who wins it.
                      Is there still a game? Yes. Does it still contain artistry? No.
                      Well…I broke down a game of incredible complexity to, say, a set of choices, representing dialogue choices and die rolls. It still IS a game, but I’ve stripped it from everything artistic. It now contains nothing more than a few dice and tables-no art. Depending on your taste, it might be boring, but so are many games to me, even though they contain lots of artistic elements.

                      So: is there a game? Yes. Does it necessarily contain art? No. Is “games are art” still a valid statement? NO, it is not and never has been.
                      Is “this game is art” a valid statement? Well, it depends, as I already said: A GAME (singular, individual judgement) may be art due to its specific making, but not GAMES (plural, meaning the general sum of ALL games) PER SE. Yahtzee is a game, but no art. I.e.: The sum of all games contains “objects”, which are no art, therefore the statement “games are art” is false.

                      Also: how exactly can you claim that the specific physical medium is necessary when it might be replaced as long as the players consent on the replacement?

                      My point through all this discussion was, and still is: the fact of something being a game does NOT automatically make it art.

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      The way I see it, if you play chess, but change the name of the piece from “king” to “banana”, you’re playing a different game. If you remove the color from Go, you’re again playing a different game.

                      To me, you’re not separating the art and the game. You’re separating the art (of the parts) and the system. The game to me (and the art) is the combination or those two.

                      My question about movies was just trying to come up with a way to perform the same separation to movies.

                      And finally, I have never advocated calling absolutely everything art, so I don’t know what that has to do with anything I have said.

                    • Scampi says:

                      “And finally, I have never advocated calling absolutely everything art, so I don't know what that has to do with anything I have said.”

                      Indeed, I grant you that. I don’t know how I came to that conclusion and apologize for that. I read the comment later and wondered how I even came to write that part, while also regretting not having answered to your poetry question properly.

                      “To me, you're not separating the art and the game. You're separating the art (of the parts) and the system. The game to me (and the art) is the combination or those two.”

                      Well…I have another example. I own 2 copies of the same RPG-system. They are identical, except for the art within the rulebooks. Both artstyles (by the same artist) convey a VERY different atmosphere of the rulebook. But all the rules are exactly the same. Does my experience playing the game depend on the art style of the book I use? If so: from which book will I run the game? Do both art styles influence me? And what do I do if one of the styles is really repelling, while the other is endearing? Is the game worse when using the uglier book because its presentation doesn’t appeal to me as much?
                      Will I play a worse game of chess on a set of wooden pieces than on a marble set? Or: will my gaming experience be completely different if I decide to switch the king’s and queen’s pieces for a match? In fact, all I do is replace appearances of pieces. I can still call them king and queen. I may also keep the old pieces, and call them Sylvester and Hannah. It still IS the same game. Or would you say you’re not playing chess, if your opponent moved “Hannah” across the field instead of a queen? If you came to Germany, you’d have to get used to people calling the queen “Dame” and the Knight would be a “Springer”. Bishops are “Läufer” and the Rook is a “Tower”. Why’d you care if I call my piece by another name as long as I play by the rules of the game? Would it be another game if I played without looking at it?

                • MrGuy says:

                  I think a better example here is jazz.

                  While jazz has specific “songs,” they are not played the same way by different artists (which is kind of the point of jazz).

                  One way to think about a jazz performance is that there’s a “theme” and certain “rules” around what improvisations and shifts are expected (or surprising).

                  The “art” of a piece of jazz music was partially the artistic merit of the underlying piece of base music. But there is additional art that comes from the performance – the interpretation and variations made to that base unit by an individual making choices on top of that base unit in context, and creating a one-of-a-kind experience that can be approximated by others but never completely recreated.

                  • Scampi says:

                    I’m not entirely sure what point you’re trying to make. But, to go with the example, Jazz (and music, and, as far as I know, all art) by their very nature contain no kind of direct competition, which is an essential characteristic of games. Even single player games know win-/lose-states, while there is, as far as I know, is no way to “win” at by objective means.
                    At the same time, if you handed me a trumpet (which I don’t know how to play properly), I’d probably blow (pun not intended, but gladly accepted) and nobody would even remotely consider my sucking being of artistic value. So: I’d use a means of artistry without delivering anything of artistic value.

                    • Scampi says:

                      Even single player games know win-/lose-states, while there, as far as I know, is no way to “win” at art by objective means.

                      I wish the edit-function might come to a glorious return.;)
                      I don’t like this way of correcting myself.

                    • MrGuy says:

                      The point I was responding to (which is my paraphrase on your parent and grandparent posts) was that gameplay and following rules is an inherently non-artistic enterprise. It can be wrapped in art, but it’s not art. If that’s not an accurate reading of your posts, feel free to disagree.

                      My example of jazz is one where following rules and conventions can be an inherently artistic enterprise.

                      Your point about end states/win states and competition is a new one (as I read this thread). If that was your point all along, I didn’t see it.

                    • Scampi says:

                      I’d say you did grasp what I meant to say by the post you referred to. The win-/lose-states have not been a part of it, but are a general part of the rules governing games-there has to be some kind/element of adversity (active opposition) that might be able to prevent the player from reaching his goal for something to be defined as a game.
                      Thanks for the example anyways. I appreciate someone providing a different line of thought, especially if it’s refreshing and in its way original.

                • Cybron says:

                  You are not playing the same game as the person playing with a normal chess set if you play on a sheet of paper or whatever. You are playing the same ruleset, but you are not playing the same game.

                  But that’s not really relevant to this discussion – I should have specified that I meant video games. In that regard I will stand by my statement.

                  • ET says:

                    Some games (including some video games) need specific media as part of their experience.
                    e.g. Apparently Centipede had a big giant trackball as an input, but later clones from the 80s only had a joystick, or a keyboard if played on a computer; Allegedly this detracts from the experience. (I’ve never played the original.)
                    However, many games do not rely on specific media in order to be played faithfully.
                    It’s why we can get ports of Megaman to pretty much any console.

                  • Scampi says:

                    Actually, I never (!) separate video games from board game, dice games, card games etc., when it comes to generalization about games. I do this so I can work with proper definitions (as stated above).
                    I admit that video games by their very nature require a certain amount of artistic content. Still, I’d doubt that every single video game is a piece of art per se, but only due to its artistic contents, which are not to be separated so easily (I may mute my computer, but the music is part of the game, and I’ll certainly have problems (severe understatement) playing a video game without at least representative icons on the screen). So, even though there is, necessarily, art involved in producing a video game, is EVERY game per se art? I’d still doubt it. When it comes to, say, cheap shovelware, where the visual surface etc. only serve to have a functioning game at all without further thought about it, I’d say the specific game in question is not art (it happens often in puzzle collections and such). The problem with those is that the specific art style is highly irrelevant to the experience of the game and might, still, easily be replaced by anything else (even within the game itself) without detracting from the game in the least. Would you grant someone the title of “artist” for just everything, as long as he did anything that might remotely resemble art? Am I an artist if I get my hands on a copy of fruity loops and “compose” random music with it? I know I wouldn’t call myself that. If I got a brush and some colors and started painting randomly, would I be a painter? Yes. Would I be an artist, just because I was a painter? No.

                    And I beg to differ: I’d still be playing the same game “chess”, even if I paint myself a board on paper, use a mustard glass (king), a glass of nail polish (queen), 2 lipgloss (rooks), 2 buttons (knights), 2 shaped boogers (towers) and 8 pieces of broken matches (pawns). I follow the same rules, use an equivalent playing field and play to reach the same goal. I suppose that an association of players would accept me to play with this set at a tournament, but for all sakes except official play, it’s 100% equivalent as long as all participants agree on trying to defeat a mustard glass instead of a king. I’d not ask someone to play “a game like chess, but with insane pieces”, but possibly to “play chess with improvised pieces”. If you were right on this issue, my chess program would actually be something different from chess, as chess would be dependent on the original physical board and pieces, right? If I play chess with someone online, do I play a different game, because we can’t use the same board?

                • Heaven Smile says:

                  Someone has not played Missile Command it seems: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQJA5YjvHDU

                  • Alexander The 1st says:

                    I’d imagine there is one major issue with Missile Command as a game that only uses mechanics to display its story – it requires the combination of art assets to convey the specific story about nuclear war.

                    In another context of assets provided (Everything from graphics and sound, to the end state display of “The End”, etc.), it might suggest the futility of holding off an inexhaustible siege, but something like Battle City that I mentioned below can have its entire art asset swapped out, and the mechanics still tell the same message, if not the same story. Without the nuclear context, Missile Command is less about the futility of trying to win a nuclear war, and more about the futility of surviving an endless siege of attacks.

                    Which is to say, it’s two different contexts, if say, the invading missiles were, instead, Mongols or something. Or just squares instead of trails.

                • Alexander The 1st says:

                  So are you saying that the systems of rules in a game can’t create art?

                  Especially when the rules are pitted against each other in conflicting manners?

                  Consider, for example Battle City (A game that I originally played on the NES, but can also be played currently via an browser version, to get a sense of what I’m talking about here. [Note to Shamus – please feel free to remove this link if you’d rather not have it posted as such.]): in Battle City, ignoring the fact that you play as either one or two tanks that are defending a “base” area depicted by a bird of sorts, the game still pits the rules for player avatar health, npc avatar health, and the collision of projectiles launched from both to either them *or* the walls/capture points.

                  Specifically, when taken in the context of that last point, and the acknowledgement that players have friendly fire enabled – if you miss an intended target, you do damage to and can destroy the environment with the projectile that hits it. Even if you ignore the battlefield motif, the systems themselves convey a message from the author(s) of the game – namely that collateral damage is a thing that can happen. It’s a system that displays a coherent message about combat that is just as sufficient as the rather popular gunnery chief speech from Mass Effect 2 – and while not specifically about space, Battle City, even without it’s assets in context, it is still a piece of art that has a message it’s trying to convey, or provoke a discussion about the use of projectile weapons through nothing but the use of its movement and combat systems. Through the interaction and often conflict with them, it is still able to convey a particular message across.

                  As a result of this, I see no reason as to why a game with the rules as a singular component make them something completely different such that they are not art. It’s worth noting, I imagine, that this same definition does not exclude games like Gone Home, Dear Esther, The Stanley Parable, or Proteus – as much as they don’t have as much to their direct systems beyond movement, collision, and scripted sequences/interactive objects, they still are conveying a message through said systems.

            • kdansky says:

              The only useful definition of art:

              If the creator calls it art, then it is.

              Note that it might still be shitty art, but just as there are thousands of kitschy wolf t-shirts. Claiming something is not art is basically an insult to its quality as art, nothing more. By that logic, it depends on the game. FIFA 2013 would probably not be called art even by its developers, Braid might very well.

          • Tuck says:

            Games aren’t “an art”. Games usually incorporate and present art and may even be used to create art (e.g. machinima), but they’re no more art (by definition) than interactive art pieces are games (by definition).

            Art is a specific form of expression created to provoke specific emotions or thought, and games are not, they are a form of media that utilises gameplay as an integral part of the consumption process. Even The Stanley Parable has gameplay (movement, choices, etc). If a game has no gameplay then it’s not strictly a game. It may or may not be art.

            Yeah, you’ve probably heard it all, but I skipped all the discussion and debate before so I want to shout my opinion into the void and hear it echo, alright?!

            Also: I never remember to check for replies here, so apologies in advance if I fail to respond to any response.

            • Daemian Lucifer says:

              “Art is a specific form of expression created to provoke specific emotions or thought”

              Planescape:torment,spec ops the line,braid,final fantasy 7,ultima 5,portal,monkey island,the walking dead,starcraft,and on and on and on and on.All of those were created to provoke specific emotions or thought,from sorrow to joy,from “what makes one human?” to “what turns one into a monster?”.

              Excluding games from art because of gameplay is like excluding movies from art because the pictures in it move,or paintings because of the canvas they are painted on,or music because its not permanent,or sculptures because they are made out of rock,……….

              • Tuck says:

                “Planescape:torment,spec ops the line,braid,final fantasy 7,ultima 5,portal,monkey island,the walking dead,starcraft…”

                Those are all examples of games that include and utilise art to enhance the game: even so far as to provide a reason for the game itself.

                I have not played Spec Ops, but I understand it’s an FPS with a very strong storyline. So it’s a game, of which there are countless others, most of which few people would call “art”…what sets it apart is the art it uses (the writing/story). The writing would still be art even if it was presented as a novel (Heart of Darkness?), or a movie (Apocalypse Now?), etc. The game itself is not art, though.

                I tend to see games more as art galleries, some with definite themes (Spec Ops) and some more random (Monkey Island). But the gallery itself isn’t art, it’s a building and remains a building whether or not art is placed within it (buildings may also incorporate art, but aren’t art themselves…cue architect rage).

                Wow, some people went off their rocker in the comments below.

                Actually, there is another definition of art I stick by which I forgot to include in my earlier post: a representation of something we have experienced through the senses (see/hear/etc). Zukhramm’s stick figure, however coarse, is still art under this definition, even though it may not have been intended to provoke any emotion or thought. Games, again, are not themselves this kind of art, but they do usually incorporate this kind of art as well.

                Re: board games, they’re even more not-art-in-themselves than video games. They are literally a system (usually mathematical or logical) presented using art. Monopoly is still a game using whichever version you happen to be playing, but it’s not art. “Euro games” such as Settlers of Catan are very carefully designed systems (mathematical in the case of Catan) in which the art is really just window dressing: the game remains the same even if you completely change the art.

                I’d better stop writing and go to bed.

            • Zukhramm says:

              “Art is a specific form of expression created to provoke specific emotions or thought, and games are not”

              Actually that sound exactly like what games are.

              • Daimbert says:

                No, it’s pretty clear that a lot of games, and most of the simplest games, aren’t actually doing that or even trying to do that. SOME games try to provoke emotions and thoughts for their own sake as opposed to simply using them to keep the player interested in the gameplay.

                Are board games art? If not, what’s the difference between them and a video game?

                • Zukhramm says:

                  Games are games and I see no reason to distinguish between board games and video games.

                  Can your provide an example of a game not doing that?

                  Regardless, I’m not sure I’m willing to include provoking feelings or thoughts in a definition of art. I just drew a stick figure and it provokes nothing in me, yet it’s still art.

                  • ET says:

                    I’m pretty sure that one part of what defines “art”, even if you don’t want emotion in that definition, is that the thing is more than it appears on the surface.
                    I’m pretty sure a stick-man drawing, which you “just drew” doesn’t convey anything beyond the surface level of “this is a stick-man drawing”.

                  • Scampi says:

                    I refer to myself. Yahtzee is a game. Yahtzee doesn’t provoke specific emotions or thoughts, except for “how to win the best way possible”? Yahtzee has no artistic style unique to itself. It can be played with dice (which is the convention), computers (actually, my grandpa used to do this) or other imaginable number generators and either a random piece of paper or a Yahtzee table.
                    Also: your stickfigure, drawn out of boredom, is, you might say, art-in the broadest sense possible. But that’s not what you refer to when you try to claim games are art, is it?

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      “Also: your stickfigure, drawn out of boredom, is, you might say, art-in the broadest sense possible. But that's not what you refer to when you try to claim games are art, is it?”

                      Why not? I don’t know what else I should mean.

                    • Scampi says:

                      Why not? Why WOULD you even care to refer to games as “art in the broadest sense possible”?
                      It’s as good as turning basically everything into art-and this time you won’t get out of this argument. It appears I apologized too soon.
                      Now your statement reads like: “Games are art. When I say art, I mean art in the broadest sense. If someone has invested 5 seconds into design: it’s art. Games use art. Therefore games ARE art.
                      Somebody has written 2 sentences of explanation for a game? Art. 2 repeating notes of “music”? Art. I don’t even demand that writing, art style and sound need to be the highest caliber of literature, painting/modeling and musical genius, but seriously, at this point I can’t help but realize you’re just trolling. What a stupid waste of my time to even argue with you. But on the other hand: my aching back has been replaced with an aching brain…it could be worse.

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      Because it’s the only sense I know.

                      I don’t see how any of your definitions could be any better. Either there’s some kind of quality or complexity threshold, both which are entirely arbitrary. The alternative would be to decide by the sentient of either the artist or the audience, both which leads to your dreaded “everything is art”.

                      And you keep making up your own argument for me. Please stop.

                    • Scampi says:

                      My basic question is:
                      If everything is art, because you only know this meaning, how is it any help at all to define games as art? If anything a person creates is art, how is art a meaningful term at all? What do you achieve by using a term in a absolutely non-discriminatory way? There is no meaning in calling anything art at all, if it can be applied to everything. It’s just ridiculous to assume that anyone would go to such lengths to discuss something that he apparently doesn’t care about anyways.
                      Apparently, I enjoy wasting my time…caring sucks…

                    • Zukhramm says:

                      (I accidentally the post)

                      I do not think everything is art and therefore I will not argue for it.

                    • Heaven Smile says:

                      For some reason i CANT reply to your lastest post, so i will do it here and quote you:

                      “If everything is art, because you only know this meaning, how is it any help at all to define games as art? If anything a person creates is art, how is art a meaningful term at all?”

                      Is isn’t. It is only meaningful for the people that want to manipulate others into thinking that they NEED Art to give meaning to their meaningless lives.

                      Why do you think that Schopenhauer was THAT popular among artists? maybe because his philosophy more or less says that Artists are the noblest motherfukers ever, and the “High Priest of a new Civilization”? Just a thought.

                      It IS possible to have Games be Art in their own terms (what other way is there? you do not judge Poetry for its lack of Film Visuals, nor judge paints for their lack of music) but since everyone is going to use Art for their own nebulous agenda in the same way like politics, religion, and even Science (Just ask Friedrich Nietzsche: http://sweetprince.net/words/essays/the-philosopher-of-the-%E2%80%98dangerous-maybe%E2%80%99/), this is one of the cases where i must say: THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS!

                      Art is just another tool to be used on the entitled masses. Nothing more, nothing less.

                      In the other hand, is also VERY fun to destroy any definition of Art. So i guess it DOES have meaning after all: It exist so i can debunk it and piss on the ashes.

                    • Scampi says:

                      Honestly, I can’t say I didn’t enjoy it in a grim kind of way;)

                      Still, I’ll have to disagree on one thing: We can have “nice things”, and you decide what yours are;)

                      I guess, as we won’t dispose of the term, we’re still obliged to think about it anyways, so: what do you think should be done with the entire concept of art? Just for interest.

            • Cybron says:

              “Yeah, you've probably heard it all, but I skipped all the discussion and debate before so I want to shout my opinion into the void and hear it echo, alright?!

              Also: I never remember to check for replies here, so apologies in advance if I fail to respond to any response.”

              So you neither read posts preceding yours, nor posts responding to it? What a narcissistic attitude.

              • Tuck says:

                “So you neither read posts preceding yours, nor posts responding to it? What a narcissistic attitude.”

                By “before” I was refering to the last time this was a huge argument on this blog. I read the posts immediately preceding mine, but if you look at the timestamps you’ll notice I posted before it all kicked off this time (Scampi and I were replying to Daemian Lucifer at the same time).

                As for replies, I just forget. I also have a hectic schedule right now and not a lot of spare time, so I can’t continually jump on here and respond even when I remember.

                In any case, no offence taken.

            • Heaven Smile says:

              This post is aimed at both users @Daimbert and @Tuck.

              FIRSTOBAL, some music:

              SECONDOVAL, all arguments of Art are meaningless, since:
              1)There are too many definitions:

              A)Art is made for emotional catharsis (AKA “the Bioware and Leo Tolstoy” definition http://spong.com/feature/10110576/Feature-Dr-Ray-Muzyka-and-Greg-Zeschuk-Co-Founders-of-BioWare)
              B)Art is made to enlighten us and make us stop being total dipshits (AKA the Arthur Schopenhauer definition)
              C)Art is pointless (Oscar Wilde)
              D)Art is masturbation of ideologies the author holds, to properly “sheperd” the ignorant, unwashed, and lazy masses (citation needed)
              E)Art is made for the author enjoyment alone
              F)Art is made for its own sake.
              G)Whatever else Art is supposed to mean for the kids today.

              2)And because the fight is over since someone already decided what is Art: NOTHING. Nothing can ever be Art.

              We thank Arthur Schopenhauer and his 2 fanboys, Roger Ebert and Brian Moriarty, for giving me The Magnanimous Megalomaniac Macho Man know as Heaven Smile, the tools to take their logic to the extreme (Argumentum Ad Absurdum) and discover that nothing ever made is Art at all. So its completely pointless:

              You can see my ramblings on “nothing can ever be art” here:

              Do it when you are finished with this comment. Its kite long, but you can thank me later for making every single work in existence nothing more than just masturbation of “willful” (<–notice this) individuals, who decided that Art is something to be exploited for the very infantile desires they are supposed to be fighting against.

              So yeah, thanks for coming but the fruits of your efforts are in another castle. Where there are no human beings.

              “Art is a specific form of expression created to provoke specific emotions or thought, and games are not, they are a form of media that utilises gameplay as an integral part of the consumption process”

              And are you saying the other mediums do not pull the same shit as game do? they are also crafted for the “consumption” process. Just ask Michelangelo when he got paid for the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. The images were made for the “consumption” of the Church.


              Also, really? the good old “its commercial trash” (AKA “Kitch”) argument? if the sheer quantity/majority of shit produced dictates what is Art or not, then Films can never be Art. After all, it existed for like 110 years (as opposed to the 25-30 years of Games), and the number of commercial crap produced by it VASTLY outnumber the commercial crap made by Games.

              So yeah, Films are not Art.
              *CGI tears*

              “Games usually incorporate and present art and may even be used to create art (e.g. machinima)”

              You people seem to come from another planet, since there IS a narrative in the games that you are not paying attention, and you dont need outside tools to make a “proper” one in form of a Machinima. Its called Emergent Gameplay. It already comes WITH the game, one doesn’t need to take the elements outside their game to give them context, because they already HAVE one. Games, even Chess, HAVE a narrative. It is told by YOUR actions.

              (see the MrBTongue videos to have an idea of what i mean by Emergent Narrative)

              Un-ruining MMO
              Shandification of Fallout

              The problem with you people, is that you want Art in a orderly fashion, or a “proper” (notice the quotes) narrative. Probably because its the ONLY thing you know in your lives. Lets call the linear storytelling you people try to shove into games’s throat as “Elegant Narrative”, where Art can only be achieved this way (according to your people), in an orderly fashion. And of course, games have the “Emergent Gameplay/Narrativeâ„¢” thing.

              Now, i immediately have a problem with the name i recently chosen for “Elegant Narrativeâ„¢”, because it implies that the other one is not elegant or orderly. Something chaotic that comes out of nowhere, or created by the player during the exposure of this work, couldn’t POSSIBLY have been put there by the author or for a purpose, right? WRONG.


              Every detail given is important.

              Consider this detail: The developer consciously decided to have that element in the game. He/she/it knew that the players will DARE to turn left, when the “Elegant Narrativeâ„¢” demanded them to go right. If turning left was not what he/she/it envisioned then why is it there? because it WAS envisioned. It HAS a purpose.

              If Art is supposed to portrait life as it is in order to enlighten humanity about universal truths, what better medium that games in order to simulate Real Lifeâ„¢? Art has always imitated Life, and if truths are to be extracted from this simulations, then its just a matter of time before Life imitates Art in order to enhance our miserable existence (as any good work of Art is supposed to do, right Arthur?)
              http://www.cracked.com/article_20538_6-games-that-put-insane-detail-into-stuff-you-didnt-notice_p2.html (see the Oblivion example)

              So, its Emergent Gameplay meaningless? or is either there as part of the message of the author, or to simulate life for us to explore and discover a pattern, a truth inside all this intelligently designed chaos?

              I will take your quote from here, @Tuck
              “Art is a specific form of expression created to provoke specific emotions or thought, and games are not.”

              And also this one from @Daimbert:
              “No, it's pretty clear that a lot of games, and most of the simplest games, aren't actually doing that or even trying to do that. SOME games try to provoke emotions and thoughts for their own sake as opposed to simply using them to keep the player interested in the gameplay.”

              Again, lots of definitions BEYOND just emotional catharsis as explained before. And more importantly, there IS Art and High Art that exist outside the author intent.

              You see, you keep placing emphasis that since emotional catharsis is not really “intended” in the games (an accident), or if there is it is there as a stand alone scene just to pull your strings, in conflict with everything else with the game. Its there as a “Cliche Arty Moments Checklist” sort of way. Also know as “DAT POOR ANGLO SAXON WHITE RICH KID FROM EARTH IN ME3! WOULD SOMEONE THINK OF ZE CHILDREN!? OH THE HUGE MANATEE!” http://i217.photobucket.com/albums/cc70/tpjdmm/humanatee.jpg

              But as i explained in with the “Arthur Schopenhauer and fanboys” post from another part of the website, authors are full of shit and just as entitled as the audience. What they WANT is meaningless, and sometimes at the expense of their own work. Do i really need to point out the words “Midiclorians” and “LOTS OF SPECULATIONS FROM EVERYONE!” to drive my point? ok.

              Lets assume that their “intention” is what matters, alright? It was Mc Walters and Casey Hudson for the ME3 ending to provoke the “LOTS OF SPECULATIONS FROM EVERYONE!” effect…and it worked. The speculations from the ending/s DID happen as intended. Does that make it Art? …..despite the fact that the speculation wasn’t about the ending message but more on the lines of: “What the fuck where they smoking?”, “Why did you say my choices mattered when they didn’t?”, so on and so forth. But hey! at least it did what it was INTENDED to do, right? no problemo then.

              When he made the Live action Transformers movies, Michael Bay said that he didn’t have 2 shits about the original IP. This would explain the…”quality” of his work, which would mean that the complete derailment of the characters and themes was INTENDED. Does that make Transformers 2 a work of Art? i guess it is now, isn’t it? Lets all gather together to appreciate the sheer perfection and the enlightenment that we, the puny and entitled mortals, shall receive from this work of High Art:

              Thanks Arthur. You have showed me that Artists in NO WAY are just as dumb as the audience they lecture. No sir.

              But for real, i present 3 examples of High Art OUTSIDE author intent:
              It was clear that the Venus de Milo was INTENDED for her to have the arms, yet that didn’t stop people from considering it a work of Art despite its original meaning and intention long gone.

              B)(SPOILERS FOR BLADE RUNNER) http://the-rageaholic.tumblr.com/post/45337092417/razorfist-was-deckard-a-replicant

              Here you have Razorfist, an internet reviewer who declares Blade Runner to be his favorite movie of all time. As you have read in the link, he thinks that Deckard being a human hunting false humans (while loosing its own humanity in the process), only to be saved by the very thing he has sworn to destroy, means that: “It’s quirky sci-fi, rife with knotty, philosophical dilemmas and a solid main character arc.”

              In the Real Worldâ„¢ however, the intention of Ridley Scott disagrees with him:

              The INTENT is for Deckard to be a Replicant. Discussion over. Meaning that Razorfist would be forced to accept that this movie “it's pretty to look at, and there's a gimmicky twist at the end.” Making it a “much more thin, vapid science fiction film than if Deckard is human.”

              But here is the catch: Razorfist’s interpretation, regardless of authorial intent, is what elevated this movie to High Art and to his best movie of all time. It wasn’t Ridley who made this work into Art, it was Razorfist.

              Pay attention to this fragment: “Culture Blind: D.W. Griffith. He just didn’t realize what an atrocity he was creating, because as a Southerner born and bred it was what he had grown up with. He was already deeply hooked on the “Cavalry to the Rescue” trope, and the only “cavalry” available was…. you know the answer”

              The Birth Of A Nation. The Big One. The Accidental Racist One. The work of Art that even the author doesn’t want anything to do with it, because the intention was not to be racist but something else. Now that the author has forsaken his own work, does that mean it is no longer Art? It seems that intent means jack shit when the world vastly disagrees with your flawed depiction of life or heroism.

              But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t accept it as Art in a different way. It IS a historical piece both in Cinematic techniques it evolved, but also on the fact that it portraits the delusion of people who believed to be superior and with the right to oppress others because of their race.

              If Art is to portrait universal truths in all of us, then racism is one that NEEDS to be shown and remembered, or else we are doomed to repeat such mistake again. It IS Art in its own terms, without the intent or input of the Author.

              I am done. I am sure you will understand how silly it is to pretend that Art NEEDS to be EXPLICITLY stated to be as such by the Artist, in order to simply BE Art. Do you think that the caveman paints were made by Artist, or they simply liked to make drawings to pass the night, and the people from the future just HAPPEN to think it was done with an intent? Well, there IS an intent, but it is not an “Arty” intent. The intent is to just pass time and fuck around doing Stickmen Vs Sabertooth: The Revengence Boogaloo

                • Shamus says:

                  There are very few argumentative techniques more annoying than to drown your opponent in links and then begin show-boating like you just “won” the discussion.

                  Following it up by daring anyone else to debate you is also pretty childish.

                  • Heaven Smile says:

                    Of course its childish! we are talking about Art! Both the audience and authors are childish entitled assholes, and i never intend for putting me in a pedestal like the authors are the ONLY ones being in the wrong. THIS is the result of talking about Art. Instead of being the force that will “enlighten us” it just makes things worse. It became the very thing it was supposed to prevent.

                    But, thanks to the power of “LOTS OF SPECULATIONS!”, maybe i am daring someone to debate with me by pissing them off because, otherwise, my comment will be just left in the dust like the 99% of the other comments i post? I guess you could say that it is my “Artistic Choice” to make a comment that way, in order to get the “debate” going by igniting the fire of the audience? Hideo Kojima certainly made the “arty choice” of switching Snake from the early trailers to “Audience Surrogate” Raiden in the final product, to piss everyone off. And so did the infamous ME3 ending. Its all part of my “intent”. Dont you see i am an “Comment Artist”? Me, who even the GODS envy what i create? Who are you, entitled casual mortal, to say i am NOT allowed to do this?

                    Nope. I will never stop bashing the idea that authors are saints. Its just too hilariously stupid and over the top to let go. And you have all the right to call me out on my bull-I MEAN- “Artistic Integrity”

                    Roger Ebert comments CERTAINLY ignited the fire of many many many people, backing up their claims with lots of facts. So its a “tested and true” kind off artistic choice. Ironically, that means it is a “safe” method and therefore Kitch. I just destroyed my claim of this comment post being Art. Well shiiiiiiieeeet.

                    You saw my comments from other parts of the forum, did you? they are quite large and almost NO ONE comments on them. And when they do, they dont even remotely address the points at all. So if i say “I WIN” or “The debate is over” (like Brian Moriarty did) then there is a chance that FINALLY someone will get to debunk my claims with something worth OUR time.

                    And look at this comment, its getting bigger the more i write! You shouldn’t be bashing me for the links, they are infinitely more short than every single comment i make, and they make my point shorter than just copying the text ON the links.

                    I tried to be pragmatically short and get punished for it.

                    • Thearpox says:

                      Sooo… are you doing it ironically?

                    • Paul Spooner says:

                      Just because you can cite examples does not mean you know what you are talking about. Just because childish discussions take place about art does not meant that it is an intrinsically childish topic. And even if you are discussing a childish topic, it does not mean you must take on a childish tone.

                      No one has responded to any of your comments except the owner of the site warning you that you are out of line. This is not because you are so brilliant that no one can come up with a retort. It is also not because your posts assume that your audience is simultaneously uniformly erudite art critics and morons (though that may be a major factor to consider). It is because you are very close to getting your comments nuked and no one wants to waste time replying to a doomed thread.

                      Check yourself (in all senses) and then proceed. You have some interesting things to say. If you focus instead of flailing someone might even hear them.

                  • Heaven Smile says:

                    Have to reply to Shamus comment cause i cant directly reply to THEIR comments, for some reason.

                    And of course, some music:

                    “Sooo… are you doing it ironically?”
                    It is always hard to tell, isn’t it? Then again… these 2 exist:

                    If you have been following me around in my other posts, you know already i get into hyperbolic “Argumentum Ad Absurdum” antics. So i am not sure why i am getting called out NOW and not before, where i did….exactly what i am doing right now.

                    @Paul Spooner
                    “Just because childish discussions take place about art does not meant that it is an intrinsically childish topic. And even if you are discussing a childish topic, it does not mean you must take on a childish tone.”

                    I am not doing a “jumping the bandwagon” thing, because the rest of the comments were childish (they werent) and i just want to feel part of the group, for some reason. What i AM doing however is effectively calling the “Art” debate, the mere ACT of debating it, a childish thing to do (if not deluded and cancerous).

                    Sure, you said that its not excuse, but i have 2 painfully long reasons for why i NEED to use the “childish-Hubris filled-In your face-My argument is bigger than yours-I have a philosopher backing my inane ramblings” tone. You have to yet comprehend the full scope of the problem.

                    1)Statements made by sheer hubris invigorates the discussion much more effectively than your normal boring and mediocre statements. It just works.

                    I cannot deny that it doesn’t work on personal and macro level.

                    I was kinda following the Art dilemma since ME3, i even got here BECAUSE of the ME3 Spoiler Warning Episode that Smudboy liked in his feed. But despite all my efforts, i wasn’t able to decipher why “Art” is so important to people. The topic, despite being controversial enough to spark a big discussion, it didn’t get into the CORE of the problem.

                    I reasoned that maybe its because people didn’t know better and just are biased (like myself) into letting games win at all cost. Meaning that they will just go halfway through and just put the things that confirm what they already think is right (Confirmation Bias), and not select things that will harm such argument.

                    So i went further for more “professional” insight….and found this travesty: http://www.ludix.com/moriarty/apology.html

                    I have never been so incomplete, so unsatisfied in my life with this…non argument here. I can almost relate to the ME3 audience with this. The guy just pulled ONE philosopher as THE end of ALL discussion, without understanding the full repercussions of his logic, and called it a day. All while ignoring others that talked about games as Art before (Ludwig Wittgenstein says “hi”)

                    The Brian Moriarty article and his “arguments” are so full of hubris and bullshit that it just….”sparked” something in me. I achieved an intellectual Nirvana….by being MAD AS HELL, TO THE POINT OF NOT TAKING THIS ANYMORE!

                    This isn’t about intellectual honesty anymore. Or to objectively find a way for games to be Art (or describe Art in general). This is just a giant Argument For Authority (This famous guy said they aren’t Art, so discussion over. Bye), with “Moving The Goalpost” thrown into the mix. Roger Ebert says “Games are not Art because X” and calls it a day, then gets debunked and says “Games are not Art because of Y”. Then after failing over and over, he says “Games will NEVER” be Art, and the fanboy Brian goes in his defense instead of elaborating further HIMSELF. Roger apparently couldn’t just say “Never Art because Schopenhauer and The Will. Games promote Will. And that is Terrible. I am Done”

                    These intellectuals, who people respect and love, are just as childish as the people they are lecturing. They want to WIN the argument at all cost, not to debate. For what reason? i dont know. Having control like The Patriots from Metal Gear Solid 2 ending via “Selection for Societal Sanity”? They certainly DO have power to tell us what to think instead of doing it ourselves, and i am sure that their words echo more when they have the money and prestige to shout louder than everyone else (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2333165/The-best-way-win-argument-Shout-louder-people-simply-assume-youre-right.html) I guess it could be a irrational reason. The Will does that to everyone.

                    There WERE responses to his (and Roger’s) article. Plenty in fact. All with a tone of rightful indignation to such ignorant claims, and with good reason. People get VERY defensive when confronted with information that clashes with their preconceived notions. (http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/?page=full) Now, i know that Brian didn’t bring any actual “facts” per se, but it doesnt matter when the result is for people to counter balance this ASAP with their own research, in order to prevent HIS words to take over the ignorant masses (again, just look at the link and you will understand how fucked up the human brain is)

                    The discussion became stronger because of this. People researched more and so did i, more than ever before now that i know the root of all problems. All thanks to the sheer audacity of these “intellectuals” to flat out say they made THE argument of all time.

                    So in the same spirit, i will do the same. I will, of course, be more factual than the 2 Arthur fanboys here, but i need an extra dose of bullshit in order to make YOU (the reader) into a powerhouse of intellect as a reaction. I will not sacrifice facts for that, but i CAN act like a complete wanker full of himself to spice it up. Because as we all know, it is always the extremes of everything that make us notice something is wrong.

                    Fallout 3 ending was bad, but it wasn’t ME3 ending BAD enough to start all this ordeal on what is Art.

                    If making sure you feel frustrated (like everyone else did it when they read that article) makes me a monster, a troll, or whatever (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/HeWhoFightsMonsters), despite the fact that you can end up stronger by it this kind of exposure, and be able answer with the same fiery passion and determination i have for this topic, fueled by rightful indignation, then…

                    2)Art truly is obsolete and a self defeating topic. And thus, it doesn’t deserve anyone’s attention.

                    I am tempted to be as short as possible on this one, but this quote from yours means that i probably was TOO SUBTLE:
                    “It is also not because your posts assume that your audience is simultaneously uniformly erudite art critics and morons (though that may be a major factor to consider)”

                    I dont threat people like “Erudites and morons”, what i CLEARLY intent with my “vision” is to invoke “Cognitive Dissonance” to make sure you dont fall asleep while reading. I am “intentionally” failing at my own logic to make you feel unconformable and pay attention: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_dissonance

                    The real answer, of course, is that i want to avoid pulling a “Brian” and leave everyone in the dust. I have to explain everything because there is no such thing as “obvious”. It was “obvious” for Roger and Brian to talk about games not being Art because they KNEW the Schopenhauer topic too well, so THEY dont even mention it. Kinda like how in a fictional story, the characters do not talk of things they already know, except to new people or the fish out of water character. The rest of the planet (US) is unaware that philosophy from a dead man 100 years ago, who no one has debunked for some reason, was even something to be worth considering in the discussion. I am glad to see that my efforts were for nnnnnnnnnnnnnothing.

                    Back to the Art issue, lets use Brian’s own words (so we can use it against him later): “Schopenhauer believed that the essence of the universe is a blind, irrational, unquenchable thirst to exist he called Wille zum Leben.

                    Everything we perceive is a representation of this will to live, this desire to be.

                    Because we ourselves are products of Will, we spend most of our lives trapped in a cycle of striving and boredom.

                    We're constantly willing ourselves to attain our goals, and when we do attain them, we're disappointed and move on to something else, again and again, until the ultimate disappointment of death.”

                    At least he is right in something. Schopenhauer DID believe that. Brian uses this as an excuse to illustrate that, if games let US, the entitled willful masses, to do what we WANT, then games can NEVER be Art because Art is supposed to PREVENT this. Prevent us from keep WANTING everything for no reason. Art and Buddhism were 2 options that Schopenhauer gave to “escape” the effects of The Will.

                    Ok. Mr.Schopenhauer, you DO realize that by SAYING that Art is a way to escape this problem, you add “value” to it, right? You make Art something that people MUST have, in order to stop suffering. You make it desirable, you make it something that you would…..WANT to have. Yes, i am implying EXACTLY that.

                    But it gets worse. Just look around you. Everywhere you look you see people arguing over what is Art or not at the expense of facts. Artists insulting each other work to ensure THEIR work gets more recognition and prestige than the others. Artists who also abuse the “Art” label to inflict misery, or to pretend that their trash has a value to humanity as a whole (Reminder: Arthur said that the creation of sublime art was the noblest of human undertakings, and artists, especially musicians, were the high priests of civilization. So saying that their work is “Art” means that they are doing it for us to save us from The Will. But when the work fails to do that…well).

                    In what instance was Art useful to humanity? Hell, wasn’t The Birth Of A Nation, a work of Art to some people, the catalyst for the resurrection of the KKK? How is Art the key to our salvation when it actually brings way more misery and pain than The Will itself, the thing its supposed to fighting against? The more i think about it, it sounds that Art is just a tool for oppression than expression. The Patriots comparison sounds more sane now, isn’t it? Direct people’s future by labeling Art something you think is good, and everything else gets toss in the flames (Nazi book burning style). “Why not? its evil cause it promotes The Will. I am doing a favor to humanity by destroying such thing.” said the Schopenhauer fanboy.

                    Because sometimes, just saying something is wrong is not enough. Sometimes, you have to use the subtlety of an anvil.

                    Sadly, i have only a steamroller around. Made out of bias. A bias towards all Art in general (with good reason but still)

                    So here we are, finally, at the end of this comment. You can see now why Art is not only a waste of time, but also something that needs to go away to stop us from harming us? As long The Will concept stays strong as it is, showing that humanity is driven by an irrational desire to have its way, then Art is just another tool for that.

                    Oh sure, you can just keep talking about Games as Art by quoting OTHER philosophers and other arguments such, and even talk about what is a proper “Game” or not. But that is moving the goalpost, is it not?

                    If we do not debunk the central idea (http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Graham%27s_Hierarchy_of_Disagreement.svg) that humans are doing the Art argument (or ANY argument) as a means to achieve what they WANT (whatever that WANT is), instead of just being purely in an intellectual way, then i think the discussion is over. Not just the “Games as Art” discussion, but ALL discussions on Art. Period. It brings more negatives than positives, so why bother?

                    We either debunk the idea, or we accept that The Will is never going away but can be beneficial IF we were to harness it for good. As in, we make Art around people like DarkSidePhil (the most entitled, whiny, distracted, uncooperative, never-my-fault sort of audience that could ever be) to explicitly challenge this “willful and irrational” individual.

                    This Youtube Channel might be a good start for answers:

                    Bonus irony: If we debunk this Art problem, will any of us be satisfied? or we will just look for another problem to solve (like Dear Esther being a “game”) and then be dissatisfied again Ad Nauseum, thus proving that The Will is still in charge of our lives?

                    • Otters34 says:

                      While on the one hand I can see and understand why you would take this approach, it’s got some serious diminishing returns.

                      Pretty quickly everyone who already doesn’t care about your views(and is put off by the tone, weirdo typography and wolfpack of links) will just skim on by without even bothering, while those who DO read what you’ve got to say will gradually just see it as your schtick instead of a one-off method to draw attention to a particular issue.

                      That and this is Mr. Young’s house, so turning it into a soapbox, even on a very particular strand of subjects, will probably draw some serious ire after a while.

                      In all seriousness Heaven’s Smile, I suggest you get a blog going. This is a new angle on a growing topic and your stance will at least get some fresh air on one corner that’s starting to get just a little stiff. The legacy of Arthur Schopenhauer’s thought and his effect on both criticism and the basic idea of what art is and even what it’s for is not exactly common knowledge, as your insane ramblings attest. Keeping this stuff in the comments of another person’s website is simply unjust.

                    • Disc says:

                      Or start making videos since with all the music and the other.. entertainment, as you put it, where they would make more sense and be a lot less distracting. Doing your shtick in an actual discussion is just, for lack of a better word, rather strange and very suspect.

                    • Heaven Smile says:

                      “Pretty quickly everyone who already doesn't care about your views(and is put off by the tone, weirdo typography and wolfpack of links) will just skim on by without even bothering, while those who DO read what you've got to say will gradually just see it as your schtick instead of a one-off method to draw attention to a particular issue.”

                      A spoiler tag like the one in The Escapist forum that opens up and becomes bigger or smaller can reduce the wall of text, for those not interested reading it.

                      As for the shitton of links, what do you expect? i am going for Academic Presentation here (a real one), not a IGN editorial!

                      The “Art” subject is just too complex to simply reduce it to a few words or go unprepared. Actually, i CAN: “Art is useless due to constant human corruption and agendas, and any definition of Art can backfire by making everything else (or all of it) not Art.”

                      But that alone doesn’t even remotely begin to fill the gaps, doesn’t it? it leaves you with the impression that i am just an asshole, and not the good kind of asshole. Yes, there is more than one kind of asshole. Fifty shades of it in fact.

                      Hehe. As MrBTongue said, a work of Art is irreducible. Therefore, even talking about Art in general is also irreducible.

                      It just pisses you off because you want your respective medium to obtain “Arthood” and shit, yet no one can actually tell me why is this thing so important in a pragmatic and utilitarian way that its relevant in the Real Worldâ„¢

                      But it doesn’t help that:

                      1)I have limited time to check every single response that i know i am going to INEVITABLY get, for NOT elaborating properly my points enough. So to cut the knot i just say EVERYTHING i want, so i can have a solid case and think ahead the responses to the more “questionable” points. So the discussion is more about what i want people to focus and not the “what the fuck did he/she/it just say?” kind of discussion.

                      The way i see it, not doing so is like doing a Mass Effect 3 ending. Just a rushed dialog with no solid answers of what anything means. And i dont want to play the role of Casper The Genocidal Ghost in this debate. Thank you very much.

                      2)My computer is going to melt. Due to the fact i live in another side of the planet, i am not gifted with snow and cold but instead just universal heat that makes everyone use electricity for cooling, which in turn makes blackouts more often (or worse, low tension that goes up and down constantly). Since i have no way to answer any hole i left in my wall of text because i dont know i there IS going to be a computer later (or even Internet…or a country), i have more reason to just plug everything in and making it even BIGGER.

                      Why do you think it took a month to reply?

                      “Keeping this stuff in the comments of another person's website is simply unjust.”
                      Yes but i have done this for years even in Youtube comments. You should probably see my presence in smudboy videos where i chain up 11 comments.

                      I dont have money for a blog that will cost me an eye to keep alive, specially in a foreign currency if i host in USA that cost 4 times mine. I cant trust hosting where i am since inundations and blackouts are the order of the day. And i cant even get revenue of it to pay it since the topic i talk about is Art, which is something i want GONE from the world and end all discussions about it.

                      That doesn’t seem like a good strategy to keep people coming back, you know? By extension of commenting on the questionable usefulness of Art, i am shitting on every medium ever and the people trying to get it.

                      Worse, i am going for a “end to all discussion” argument regarding Art. After all, for all the “Art will save us all*” shows to be less and less true the more i indulge into it. I have yet to see proof of it EVER happening, or else is just an asspull that people use frequently to pretend that their lives as Artists or critics were not wasted, and have a deeper meaning or function in society.

                      “Or start making videos since with all the music and the other.. entertainment, as you put it, where they would make more sense and be a lot less distracting. Doing your shtick in an actual discussion is just, for lack of a better word, rather strange and very suspect.”

                      Videos are free, but is out of question since Youtube went full retard and now it ID marks EVERYTHING it sees. So my stitch of using music, or even PERFECTLY LEGAL FOOTAGE THAT IS FREE FOR ALL, it going to flag my video anyway. Allow Super Bunnyhoop to fill the gaps on how fucked up Youtube is right now:

                      And Blip has a….”questionable” way to select which show is worth its time.

                      Hell, a blackdown and an inundation while Youtube (or Sony Vegas) process the video means that i risk loosing everything.

                      I know this. That is why i adapted by just having everything i need to be just in text form. If i needed to put a link in my comments in Youtube, back when one wasn’t allowed, i could just go from this:


                      To this, and tell the reader to fill the gaps:
                      boston com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/?page=full

                      If i do voice only….then that would defeat the purpose of using a VISUAL medium, is it? specially if i put my links in the description without at least showing it.

                      But wait! it gets worse. Since i talk for too long, people may see the timeframe and be put out by it to the point of NOT seeing/hearing any of it. So i am stuck anyway unless they have the capacity of just stop watching/hearing/reading and come back later at their own pace.

                      I mean, you are not FORCED to read everything in a single try, do you? If not then why not just take your time? that is why the music is also there, to relax you a little.

                      But lets face it, no human machine can ever capture the essence of my voice. My good old Tony Jay impersonator voice cannot be registered in a mike. So i cant talk to you in a smooth and nice tone that i know you WILL listen to:

                      What a shame. I guess you can try to read my stuff while you think he narrates it to you?

                      *It reminds me of this absurdity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDxgNjMTPIs

      • Scampi says:

        I fail to see the problem’s supposed size.

    • Paul Spooner says:

      I agree. Though the implied “art” is rather missed. If we go that route, I’d prefer the acronym DAI, as it is easier to type, and easy to pronounce. It’s certainly a common practice to create Digital Art Installations, especially coupled to puzzles to throttle content. Puzzle Use Gated Digital Art Installation… PUGDAI (pronounced “Pug Die”). It’s a thing now!

  5. Actually these types of games do have a genre they belong under: Adventure
    After all way back when before thins got “Action” added to it (Action Adventure) they where called adventure games.
    Games like Monkey Island belongs to this genre as well though one could put that under the sub genre of Adventure Comedy.

  6. Ozy says:

    I wish Errant Signal had posted a video praising this game earlier, so that I would have known not to buy it. Is there anything that this game said that isn’t obvious, or that anybody would really disagree with? “It says that game players don’t have real choice when all their paths are predetermined by the game creator!” Well, duh? Is this supposed to be surprising? Does writing that a painting of a pipe is not a pipe really convey any stronger message than, “the painter felt incredibly clever when they wrote this”?

    Nothing in this game got any stronger reaction out of me than, “Yep, that’s how games work,” and the previous line about The Treachery of Images applied just as strongly.

    • ehlijen says:

      There is a difference between saying something that’s commonly known and something that’s obvious in retrospect but few have thought about before someone pointed it out.

      Look at games like ME3 and The Walking Dead. People talked for a long time about which offered more choice, better choices or even choice at all.

      Just the fact that the ‘Reclaim ME’ movement existed shows that some players don’t agree with the idea that their choices in games are not choices.

      You may have already come to the same conclusion as this game and not appreciate the humour enough to get anything else out of it either, but that doesn’t mean it’s a worthless endeavour to make this game or that the conclusion doesn’t bear expressing.

    • Strangeite says:

      This is exactly why I don’t really care for video games.

      Sure, I will play the latest Civ and I really enjoy Kerbal, but at best, I spend 1 hour a month playing a video game. I am interested in the medium intellectually but it doesn’t do much for me emotionally.

      Oh well. I will just sit on my porch and shake my cane at those whippersnappers on my lawn calling themselves “gamers”. Psshhh. Gamers. They don’t know the meaning of the word.


    • Disc says:

      That’s indeed ultimately the downfall of these types of games. Aside from being disgusted by the generally very abusive ways of trying to hammer the message home, I felt pretty much the same way about Spec Ops: The Line. If you’ve already figured out the things the game’s trying to tell you by yourself, then the “lesson” has very little value.

    • Daemian Lucifer says:

      People can still enjoy stuff they already know.For example I already knew all of this,but I still enjoyed reading that article.The message is not the only part of a piece of art.Especially a composite one like a video game.

      • Scampi says:

        I have to agree. There are lots of activities that may either repeat over and over or just be already known in their entirety and may still be very enjoyable. Everytime I go to do sports and the lessons of the day are the very basics, it doesn’t kill the joy, even though I already know these basics.
        I also may enjoy certain movies, games etc. again and again, being stuffed with beautiful art or enjoyable gameplay etc. There wouldn’t be much point in buying (and deciding to keep) things, if they became boring and stale just because you already knew them.

      • Disc says:

        It may not be the only part, but in the case of Stanley Parable (and Spec Ops for that matter), the messages can certainly be considered the meat of the game. YMMV, but it’s only so long that the philosophical waxing and joking remains entertaining. Initial playthrough, loved it. Doing stuff the second time, felt pretty meh.

        It’s an entertaining piece of.. software, but there’s hardly any replay value after seeing most of it. Maybe after a few years it’ll be fun to reminisce about it, but that’s about the only case where a replay would feel justified.

    • Heaven Smile says:

      “”It says that game players don't have real choice when all their paths are predetermined by the game creator!” Well, duh? Is this supposed to be surprising?”

      You know what else is a “well duh” thing? Fictional beings talking about Fate and Free Will, like Legacy of Kain does every 5 minutes. (And Planescape Torment)

      But not just games, all mediums do. What is the point of having a fictional being, who has no Free Will, ask itself this question that its not obvious to it, but its obvious to us? i think you know the answer.

  7. TMTVL says:

    Don’t they usually fall under the denominator of “adventure games”? Like Myst, but without puzzles.

  8. ehlijen says:

    “Button masher” ?
    “Walkabouts” ?
    “Runabouts” ?
    “Interactive experiences” ?

    Those are my suggestions for suitably inappropriate names.

  9. MrGuy says:


    Not Actually A Game…’s.

    Because life is better with acronyms!

  10. Just Passing Through says:

    Digital Environment Reconnaissance Pastimes

  11. RyanMakesGames says:

    I always have mixed feeling about Chris’s videos. On one hand, the guy is clearly very smart and has a lot of insightful things to say, but on the other hand I am always wary of anyone who so casually uses the phrase “escapist fantasy for those looking for meaning”.

    • Volfram says:

      He’s not wrong, and he’s not necessarily saying it’s a bad thing.

      Likewise with the Half-Life 2 video. He’s got an entirely valid point that HL2 “might not be as good as we say it is.” He also points out that isn’t a bad thing, and that HL2 is, regardless, still a good game.

      It’s kind of similar to the guy who does CinemaSins. Sure, he’s ripping apart some of our favorite movies, but somewhat paradoxically, some of the most fun CinemaSins episodes to watch are the ones about movies you liked the most.

    • Eleion says:

      I haven’t watched the video because of spoilers (played the mod, though), but out of curiosity what don’t you like about that phrase?

      • Sabrdance (MatthewH) says:

        My objection to the phrase is that we have a perfectly fine word for “escapist fantasy for those looking for meaning.”


        And if you insist that your meaning not be fictional, we call it “history.”

        • Thomas says:

          That’s not the concept he’s trying to get across though. A story has a whole bunch of connotations and being an escapist fantasy for people looking for meaning is only one of them, and it’s not even present in all stories.

          Also the meaning changes when you switch mediums right? In the context of videogame loops it has a much more powerful idea of being _your_ escapist fantasy. You push a button and then something tells you that pushing that button was meaningful. You can’t change the world around you, but in a game you can build cities and control the world exactly as you want it.

          I would agree that stories by themselves have a lot of that, and the same discussion can definitely be had about all kinds of fiction, but I think videogames have a special and different taken on the idea which means you can’t just put ‘story’ in that sentence and have it make sense. Even Farmville caters somewhat to people looking for meaning and escaping into an imaginary place for it, but Farmville has no story (as far as I know I haven’t actually played it =D)

  12. Simplex says:

    I think someone from Tales of Tales was using a term “non-game”, or similar.

  13. Chris Davies says:

    The crate and crowbar podcast suggested “Walkthrough” as a name for the genre, just to confuse people searching for these games.

    I heartily support this idea.

  14. Jarenth says:

    I suggest ‘gameo vids’.

  15. DGM says:

    How about “Virtual (or Digital) Playgrounds?” Like a real playground it can be explored and may have rides and toys, but no actual challenges to overcome.

  16. Scampi says:

    I’d probably go for something like “virtual playground”, though it doesn’t really sound too inspired. But who cares-it’s just a description anyways. The only thing I care about is that people do not mix them up under the description of game.

  17. Retsam says:

    I’ll throw out my suggestion for the genre name: Game-police Flame Bait or “GFBs”.

  18. Cybron says:

    The primary distinguishing feature of these things appears to be the text of a work imposed across a digital space. I think ‘digital installation’ is about as accurate as it gets.

    That said, I’m not convinced that Stanley Parable belongs in the same category as Dear Esther.

  19. Volfram says:

    The Narrator from TSP reminds me of a guy I know. I was complaining about his DM style(even when he says the game is low-fatality, one wrong move will get you killed instantly), and he berated me, saying that “I have a story to tell,” and HOW DARE I want to explore HIS game world and HIS story on my own, without yielding to HIS permission?

    I haven’t played in any of his games since.

    Interestingly, his political views lean very strongly towards the Totalitarian(I’m not going to tell you which party), and he has repeatedly voiced the opinion that only the “experts” are worthy of determining whether a work is good or not, and if I disagree with them, then I am stupid for it.

    • ET says:

      Man, here I thought I was a bad GM, for just being awkward at telling a story, and slow with the dice-roll calculations.
      I hope you’ve found another group to play with. :)
      Jerk GMs are the worst!

      • Volfram says:

        I’ve got one of those, too. He’s really good at improvisation, but the game he’s currently running tends to go a lot of nowhere, and the past 2 sessions have both included an hour-long period right in the middle where absolutely nothing happened.(He got a phone call in the middle of the last one. And he took it. And he talked on it.)

        I do have another group, and I managed to bring in the single best GM I’ve ever played with. That game is a blast and hilarious.

        We went to Canada to hunt a Wendigo. Turns out that in Canada, Wendigo hunts you.

  20. Spammy V says:

    Art House Indie Narrative Games? Although that would probably exclude Proteus based on what I’ve heard. Art House Indie Games? But then we’d be extending the category to include stuff like Limbo. Art House Indie First Person Adventure Games?

    Or we could just keep saying that they’re the not-games so we can give them backhanded compliments and go on because we’ve said that they don’t really matter because they’re not games and we’re here to discuss games.

  21. Smejki says:

    OK. For understanding this text, let’s agree there are games (the rael gamez!!!) and virtual installations as proposed by TBiscuit (Dear Esther and the like).

    tl;dr: Either extend definition of (video)game or create a new definition and category for vitual installations. Any way, create new term for them.
    This just a matter of mere categorization. I don’t get why some people feel that by saying “those games are not games” the installations are being ostracized and games are the “Saubere rasse! Heil Hitman!”. It reminds me the Pluto-gate controversy sometimes. We discovered a new type of electronic “art” and that’s all so calm the fuck down. Light version of this thinking are people who claim that categorization “does nothing but fosters conservatism and defensiveness“, which is imho bullshit (and I am quite sad to hear this from an innovator). C’mon, creation precedes categorization. Moreover, one way to create new things is to challenge definitions. One thing is certain – virtual installations do differ from games as they are defined now so yeah, we need to improve on categorization, definitions and terminology. And imho it doesn’t matter how it gets resolved.

    Either we promote category Videogames to be synonymical to “Multimedial electronic art” and Virtual installations will be its subcategory. Thus we will inherently change definition of Videogame. And also we would need a new word for virtual installatios because virtual installations is a horrible term.

    Or we create a new supercategory called Multimedial electronic art and Videogames and Virtual installation will be two distinct subcategories. Then we would have to create definition for Multimedial electronic art, definition of (video)game will remain the same as it is now, and we will need a new word for virual installatios because virtual installations is a horrible term. Dejá vu!

    • Cybron says:

      “Or we create a new supercategory called Multimedial electronic art and Videogames and Virtual installation will be two distinct subcategories. Then we would have to create definition for Multimedial electronic art, definition of (video)game will remain the same as it is now, and we will need a new word for virual installatios because virtual installations is a horrible term. Dejá vu!”

      This is absolutely the way I look at it. It’s very strange to me when people protest that Dear Esther and the like being labeled as ‘not a game’ – why? Do they feel it belittles the ‘genre’? Does it diminish the word game? I simply don’t see it.

      • Scampi says:

        Proper and clean definition for those people who have to work on the basis of definitions. Some people (including me, sometimes) have to depend on definitions being as useful and adequate as possible, and “games” are not exactly a very new concept. So, while it may be necessary redefining some characteristics of terms in reasonable boundaries from time to time, pretty much every (classic to modern) definition of “game” depends on some characteristics, which DE and such don’t fulfil, thereby leaving us with the options of either excluding this type of software from the term “game” OR watering the term “game” down to such a broad meaning that it loses all selectivity.
        I vote for the first option.

        • Heaven Smile says:

          I hate to do this, but we need examples of Film Appreciators/critics/whoever to see what is their reasoning when meeting something that is less Visually Artistic.

          Lets go for the overused choice and pick Citizen Kane:

          Serious film critics will concede that the plot of Kane is actually pretty simple, and that its genius lies not in what it is about but how it was done. The first thing that most beginning film students learn is that all art, including movies, is composed of both form and content (the ancient Greek dramatic terms diegesis and mimesis being roughly analogous), and that it is ultimately the form that determines the nature of the content, not the other way around. Kane is special not because it tells an effective story (although it does, as any good literary critic will tell you), but because Welles filmed it in a highly imaginative style (visually, orally, continuity-wise, you name it) that was groundbreaking in his time – and that, truth be told, is
          not often seen in American cinema even today. That is what makes Kane unique – and for most jaded film critics, uniqueness is the thing that really makes them sit up and take notice.

          So it is either uniqueness or using the medium at its best strength (in this case using VISUALS in a medium that is all about visuals). So if a make a 3 hours movie that is nothing but yellow text scrolling upwards in a black background without narration, music or sound, and ZERO visuals, it wouldn’t be Art. The “movie” might make people cry, create world peace, bring the Second Coming of Christ (Actually it would be Third Coming, if we count the time when he came for The Dark Knight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cDxgNjMTPIs), and might be the best thing humanity ever created……buuuuuuuut, if it doesn’t use the visuals of the medium it is stuck in then its not Art.

          Reminds me of how a movie like Star Wars, could never get “Best Picture” or even be CONSIDERED High Art because is Sci Fi (and as we all know Sci Fi is total shit, amaright? http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ScifiGhetto), despite the fact that many people decided to become astrologists and men of science in order to help humanity while being inspired by this movie. This movie did more good than CK, but i guess its not Art. Right?

          Its because of these reasons that saying that Dear Esther is not a game will not work. Oh sure, it has shitty plot(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ite7voTtu0), but trying to create an absolute standard or rule and try to apply it to everything that exist is bound to disaster.

          Games will not be “lowered down” if they accept Dear Esther. Games will transcend to a higher plane of existence (higher plane of “Artyness”?) if they accept it. Its artistic spectrum will be more broad now, because instead of judging how much “interactivity” it has in a game (in the same way people judge a movie for how much “visuals” there are), we should judge the games in their own term.

          We should question: “Why i am allowed THIS amount of interactivity? Why no more or less? What does it mean?”. This way, we allow Dear Esther and even COD to exist, despite their linear and almost anti-interactive ways. Because remember, even games that technically have way more interaction and consequences to your actions (which by definition of other mediums like Film, it would mean its doing well as Art candidate), it doesn’t mean its going to be good or well executed. Just look at the Mass Effect franchise.

          We shall transcend our limitations by observing the rules of other mediums….and laugh at them.

  22. swimon says:

    I always liked the name walk ’em ups for games like graveyard, dear esther or passage. Mostly because I think high-minded things should have stupid names.

  23. I’d call it an adventure game. Granted the puzzles seem to be more abstract than get a mustache from a cat to use some guy’s fake id (even though he has no mustache) to rent a motorcycle, but it sounds like an adventure game to me.
    I suppose we could call it a FPA (First Person Adventure) or a TPFPA (Thought-provoking first person adventure), but that seems a bit wordy.

    Sure, there doesn’t appear to be any action, but I don’t remember much action in Myst either (I may be mistaken, since I haven’t played Myst since 99 or so). It’s a wander around the world, click on stuff, and see what happens kind of game, but thinking about it, that’s how I play most games. Wander around, click on stuff (okay, mostly to kill it), and see what happens (including what comes next in the plot/questline). Maybe I’ve been playing MMOs too long?

  24. Paul Spooner says:

    I could get behind calling the “games” mentioned in the OP “FPE” for First Person Exploration. Minecraft would kind of straddle the line between that and a highly mutable sandbox I suppose. The more terminology the better I say.

    • Thearpox says:

      Check my post up above. Adding a “First” to the title is a completely arbitrary distinction that will come back to bite us in the ass when these games start appearing with a third-person view. Or by some counts, have already appeared. (I don’t know about the mainstream indies, but flash sites like kongregate have a slew of games with a claim to deep meaning, which are basically an FPE in third person. “Loneliness,” being the half-arsed example I can remember off the top of my head.)

      Speaking of fringe examples like Minecraft, Visual Novels could also straddle the line. After all how in an Exploration game (or any game) must be dialogue before it becomes a VN? 5min/hour? 50% 80% Made in Japan?
      Now, THAT’S A Dilemma!

      • Thomas says:

        The good thing about visual novels is that they have a term that accurately describes what they are. There’s only a very few cases where different people categorising them as games or not actually matters and it’s probably not worth worrying about (it’s like trying to draw a line in the colour spectrum and saying ‘that’s when it’s no longer turquoise’)

        Also visual novels are recognised by their primary mechanic of interaction being reading text or selecting options. As soon as the game started simulating walking or exploration then you could be justified calling it a visual-novel-hybrid.

        If we can name Exploration games in a way that’s talking about games which primarily interact through exploring an environment with no other systems, then that’s a fairly chunky idea that allows you to pick between Visual Novels and Exploration games pretty easily, and Exploration games and Minecraft pretty easily (Minecraft has lots of other systems) and even Exploration games and puzzle games (although this one is a lot more blurry. Maybe win states are important?)

        • Thearpox says:

          “Primarily” is a funny word, but I suppose calling games “hybrids” could also work.

          However, I do not like the idea of differentiation by saying it “has lots of other systems”. Why are those systems more important than others, and why do some of them get to title the entire game? Of course, with the entire computer games genre definition being so crappy, it may be inevitable, but still. I consider Minecraft to be a Sandbox Terraforming and Exploration game.

          As for the puzzles, I wouldn’t call them “win-states”. I’d call them obstacles. Calling something a “win-state” (and this is my personal philosophy) only makes sense to me if losing is a valid ending, or it’s a game with a “score”. Since in most Adventure games the puzzles couldn’t really be failed, with the exception of a few timed ones, they were most often nothing less than an obstacle. Anyway, calling games without obstacles “Exploration Games,” and games with obstacles “Adventure Games” could also work.

          • Thearpox says:

            Now that I think about it, we could just divide all the games into 3 categories.

            Exploration games: As in the games in which the only mechanic is exploration, which would include textual exploration (VN’s).

            Adventure games: The games in which the purpose is the exploration, but there are obstacles. Most puzzle games would fit here.

            Progression games: In which the exploration is nonexistent, or serves some other purpose, like leveling up, seeking challenge, or shooting dudes.

            And I would consider the plot to be part of the exploration process. With those definitions, the boundaries between Exp/Adv games and Adv/Pro games would be pretty liquid and differ from person to person. Portal, WoW, Minecraft, and Dishonored would all be in Adv/Pro for example. But then there could be explanations for what it is about a game that would cause it to be a hybrid, and there wouldn’t be (almost) any overlap between Exploration and Progression.

            All wishful thinking of course. And the fact that 90+% games would belong in the Adv/Pro or Pro category doesn’t help.

            • Paul Spooner says:

              Interesting… Narrative as exploration…

              Okay, so, it seems we have two primary qualities of games (I use the term in the colloquial sense here) which can be described independently:
              1. How much of the game state is hidden from the player, and how it is revealed.
              2. How much of the game state is under the player’s control, and what they must do to alter it.

              The only real difference between your above categories of “exploration” and “adventure” is that you assume a strong spatial metaphor exists in both, and that information is accrued by proximity, and motion is inexpensive in a game sense. One could easily imagine a game where the inverse was true, and things were “easier to see” from a distance, or movement was expensive and troublesome.
              Anyway, glad to see someone else is thinking about breaking games down into components and examining them. Keep it up!

              • Thearpox says:

                “One could easily imagine a game where the inverse was true, and things were “easier to see” from a distance, or movement was expensive and troublesome.”

                An example of that would be an RTS, which would either fall under a Progression category, or Pro/Adv hybrid. One progresses through the levels for the mechanics and the challenge. However, sometimes the story and/or the new level and unit designs is/are captivating enough to warrant an interest of their own, in which case the challenges regress to being an obstacle as well as an enjoyment for their own sake.

                Anyway, thanks. With the school and all, I don’t really have much time for philosophy, and usually when I launch into these discussions people begin yelling at me for derailing the thread.

                • Thearpox says:

                  And DAMN THE NO EDITING FUNCTION! (Shamus, are there really on other plugins on the juggernaut WordPress that would allow us to edit comments? Shame on whoever is responsible.)

                  Anyway, the thing with the narrative as exploration, I fail to comprehend how it could possibly NOT be exploration. I mean, what else is a story?

                  And I just realized that I might have misunderstood you with the RTS example. But then maybe I didn’t. Anyway, a game where things could be “easier to see from a distance” could really be any game where the entire thing is blatantly spoiled or foreshadowed. I fail however to see any intrinsic differences in the final result. As for the movement being expensive, I can see no problem with classifying the movement as an obstacle in itself. If Dear Ester protagonist had one fifth his movement speed, it would absolutely be an obstacle. Or for that matter, grinding and inventory management (unless done for it’s own sake) could easily be classified as movement for that purpose. If one is in no danger, and faces no real choice or puzzle, but must spend an indeterminate amount of time doing something in order to progress, is it not all the same? I think it is. The only difference between them, is that they “look” different, and may engage different parts of the brain, but intrinsically, grinding, inventory management, and movement, are all the same.

                  The only problem is that time as a variable is much harder to define, just because the tolerance for it is so different, so unless faced with extreme examples (and even then) it is probably best ignored.

                  …huh, it seems that every hole I poke, a tangent comes out. Oh well, so be it.

                  • Paul Spooner says:

                    Right, I think we’re on the same page. What I’m trying to get at is that “exploration” and “adventure” aren’t separated so much by the fact that obstacles exist, merely the nature of the obstacles. Both Exploration and Adventure games hide information from the player, and enjoyably obstruct its unveiling. If you wish to term “exploration” those information-gathering-driven games in which use a spatial metaphor and movement as the primary obstacle, and then label those which use other obstructions “adventure” that’s fine with me, but the really different one you present are… Progression games, which present a (usually undesirable) game state, and enjoyably obstruct the player’s attempts to alter it. Most games are, as you say, a mixture of both, Minecraft being an excellent example of such an alloy.

                    EDIT: Also, you can still edit comments… you simply have to do so before you post them.

                    • Thearpox says:

                      “…which use a spatial metaphor and movement as the primary obstacle, and then label those which use other obstructions “adventure”…”

                      Eh, I think you’re missing the difference between the journey and the destination. The point is that the process of exploration is enjoyable by itself, and is therefore not an obstacle. It only becomes an obstacle when it becomes tangential to the what you are doing. I wouldn’t label those “spacial metaphors” as obstacles, but as the medium used to explore the “space”.

                      To take Proteus, (watch a 15 min of some LP if you haven’t played) the whole process of exploring the island is done for it’s own sake THROUGH the spacial medium, not DESPITE of it. On the other hand, if the island was brown and only turned color when the fairy ring was found (which you would have to search for), THEN it would be an obstacle; and therefore an adventure game by my definition. A very crappy and boring adventure game, but one nevertheless.

      • Paul Spooner says:

        I don’t know why this should be a problem really. All three of the examples are played from the first person perspective. I’m not averse to proliferating descriptive terminology. TPE and FPE and so forth are all great. Good Robot could be called a TPS for that matter.

        • Thearpox says:

          The reason I don’t like calling something an FPE, and then a TPE, is that it implies that the only things that can exist are third person and first person. It restricts creativity. Both in thinking, as one is less likely to make a second-person game if there is already an “F” that screams “It must be first person!”, and also makes it harder to find for it the place on the bookshelf, with it’s properly labeled FPE’s and TPE’s.

          Just because something exists doesn’t mean it isn’t possible, so I don’t like arbitrary additions to the definitions.

          • Paul Spooner says:

            Well, now we’re getting into philosophy… but (and I use the quotes here to indicate I am using the words loosely) what “perspectives” would you offer other than the “I/We” and the “Them/Other”? That seems a fairly clear dichotomy, as it is normally defined. The second person is a sub-set of the third, or of the first, depending on how you cut it. A case could be made for a unique category, but it depends on how you draw the lines.

            I have no objection to being able to switch between perspectives (as one can do in Minecraft) but ultimately I don’t think the distinction is one of camera angle. It’s really about the difference between “driving” a character, as one would a remote controlled car or drone (first person), and “directing” a character, as one would in, say, chess or Diablo (third person). One could argue that Chess is first person, because the King could be seen to represent the player themselves.

            Anyhow, it’s important to define the method of distinction. Saying simply “A first person game is where you play yourself, and in a third person game you play other people.” clearly does not mesh with the colloquial use of the terms. Gordon Freeman is not you, and yet he is only encountered in “first person” games. Clearing up this confusion could go a long way toward improving games IMO.

            • Thearpox says:

              The whole point was that simply because something doesn’t exist, doesn’t mean it can’t or won’t.

              Also, arbitrary distinctions, and having less genre clutter, of which there is already a lot of.

          • Heaven Smile says:

            Why is it that people never played Dungeon Keeper?

    • Heaven Smile says:

      Remind me again why is it important to classify this? what do we accomplish with it? are you into marketing?

      Why not judge on the terms the game itself came up?

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