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Is Proteus a game -- and if not, who cares? Exclusive
Is  Proteus  a game -- and if not, who cares?
January 30, 2013 | By Mike Rose




It's typical, isn't it: You wait ages for a bus, and then three come along at once.

Antichamber has been in development for a few years now, and is finally getting a release later this week. But it's not the only notable indie game finally set free into the wild this week - there's also turn-based strategy game Skulls of the Shogun and, more excitingly for UK game development, the long-awaited Proteus.

Proteus, for those who have missed it, isn't your typical video game. Players wander around a gorgeously pixelated world, taking in the scenery and exploring every corner to find wildlife and other niceties.

There isn't a goal as such, leading a number of people to question whether Proteus can actually be classed as a game.

"Not a game"

In fact, developer Ed Key, alongside musician David Kanaga, thinks of it more as an "anti-game" -- although he isn't a huge fan of the "not-game" term that has been splashed around the last few years.

"I quite like 'anti-game' as it feels a bit cheekier," he laughs.

It's obvious, however, that all joking aside Key is not hugely enamored with the notable resistance against these sorts of unique game experiences. While he believes that last year's Dear Esther marked a breakthrough with gamers, there's still a vocal number of people who don't see this expanding of the medium's borders as a good thing.



"I think there's still a bit of antagonism around, both in comments thread and in game design circles," he notes. "I don't really care too much about it, but sometimes... there was a Rock Paper Shotgun article about the game, and the first comment was just 'not a game.'"

"It's comments like that - 'not a game' - and how much of that is a kind of defensive reaction against a certain strand of the culture," he continues. "If you say 'not a game', are you saying it shouldn't be covered by a video games website? I don't really know what the answer is - it's just something that strikes me about the implications of the debate about definitions."

Key believes that strict definitions really don't matter at all when it comes to game design -- what actually matters is making an experience that people will enjoy.

"If you're constrained in what you make by definitions, then you're less likely to make something unique," he adds.

Look to board games, for example. "Game definitions have always been quite vague in terms of current usage," he says. "If you think of things like, for example, Snakes and Ladders - there's no decision making in that at all. There's a goal, but it's clearly luck-based. In the strictest sense, you can't call that a game."

And yet Snakes and Ladders is very much known as a classic board game. Says Key, "As soon as you get down to specifics, you can start saying 'Oh it's not this kind of game,' or that it doesn't fulfil certain game theory criteria."

proteus 1.pngThat's not to say that the pressure to make Proteus a bit more "gamey" hasn't gotten to Key at times.

"Before I really started showing the early versions to people two years ago, David and I had this idea of making it an exploration game all about finding how the world interacts with the soundtrack, and then we just kept building on that idea," he tells us. "But in those early stages, I was thinking 'maybe this isn't enough, does it need more interaction and mechanical stuff?'"

And then, over the last few months, that sense of doubt has once again creeped into Proteus development. "In more recent months as we're grinding towards the end of the project, I thought again 'is this enough?' But I'm glad I didn't [add more traditional game elements], because if you're just designing something to tick boxes, then you're not necessarily improving the quality or the enjoyment of it."

It was the people who played Proteus in its various development forms that really kept Key focused on the same path. "There was sort of an encouraging factor in that people who played it got much more involved in it than I thought they would - it seemed like there was something there viable to make a full game out of," he says.

Not that everything has stayed the very same throughout. Before IndieCade in 2011, Key found himself discussing with Ricky Haggett of Honeyslug how best to give a sense of closure to the title, rather than just leaving players wandering around until they grew tired of it.

Having an ending to the game "wasn't part of the original concept," admits Key, but it ended up giving more than just closure to the title -- it also provided a sense of progression, and a sort of narrative arc. "It's a narrative-like structure of pacing that we paid attention to," he says.

Proteus: The subtitle

Notably, Key and Kanaga had a scare last year, when it came to light that they may have to alter or even completely change the name of the game.

"Back in February last year when I released the public beta, I thought it'd be a good idea to register the name as a trademark, more as a defensive thing that anything else," explains Key.

Once a trademark request has been submitted, it's then a case of waiting three months, during which time other companies who own the same mark can choose to object. Unfortunately, bad news came in before that three months was up.

"I got a phone call from Alex Tutty at Sheridans [the company handling the trademark submission] last year saying, "Don't want to alarm you..." laughs Key.

proteus 2.pngA defense company had objected to the filing, stating that it had a similar product with the name Proteus. "Their Proteus thing is a system for generating after-action reports for battles, and it's not even sold to the public obviously -- it's sold to defense clients," notes Key. "But it had things like processing reports about how some tanks were attacked or whatever, so it actually had a landscaping component to it as well."

Key and Kanaga subsequently spent some time discussing whether it was worth tacking a subtitle onto the name as a means of getting around the issue -- but in the end, it wasn't such a huge deal.

"It just cost a small amount of legal fees to pay to discuss it with them," Key says. "We had to narrow the specifications of the trademark a bit, so it said it was 'an interactive video game that involves a musical soundtrack.'"

"But in the end they said yeah, it's different enough. But it was just another month of stress wondering whether it was all going to be OK."

Proteus has been a long time coming, but it is finally released today for Windows PC and Mac via Steam.


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Comments


Dan Felder
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Like the word, "play" itself and many, many, many other words in English - the word "game" means many different things in different contexts. I'm not sure why this is distressing so many people.

Frankly, it seems more and more we call a game anything that we play. We play candyland, we play chess, we play skyrim. We also play the guitar and what do you know - Guitar Hero is a game. I'm not sure anyone can argue that the screen is the necessary component to transform attempting to use your fingers to produce musical patters from 'hobby' to 'game'.

Patrick Roeder
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I guess it is common to hear someone say "I'm going to play guitar now". But I think its distressing because referring to these types of experiences as "games" is misleading. I liken it to someone asking you to go to theatre, and you show up for a improv comedy skit. So ether you like improv comedy and still have a good time, or your pissed your not seeing "Spider Man The Musical". There is a joke here somewhere...

Michael Pianta
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Well I think, strictly speaking, a "game"' does at least have a win condition. But in the modern context of video games we clearly use "game" to mean anything with the formal attributes of "games". Since this is a computer program rendered to the screen and capable of familiar interactions (walking around and looking with the mouse, just like Doom) - it is a "game". This is not unlike in fine art, where the term "painting" is now loosely applied to any substance smeared over any surface, although traditional painting certainly still exists and is basically a completely separate thing.

As far as people calling it "not a game" on articles or what not, I think they are basically saying that they don't want to read about this type of stuff - I think those comments are directed at the site.

Anyway, I'm excited to play this. I've had my eye on it for a while.

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This user violated Gamasutra’s Comment Guidelines and has been banned.

Simone Tanzi
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Well, I too think that Proteus is not a game. But I do not mean it as "is not good enough to be a game" or something like that.
Is just something different that doesn't compare to the game category.
A lot of programs are not a game. Power point allows you to create and visualize slides... it is not a game, it's value is not decreased by the fact that is not a game.
Of course in a gamer circuit "not a game" sounds derogative. But still, you have a product, you have people interested in that product, you have people who see value in your product... isn't that what's important?

E Zachary Knight
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Comparing this to Power Point is not a great comparison at all. Power Point is a utilitarian application. It has a purpose not meant for entertainment.

Proteus is meant to entertain in much the same way as a "video game" is meant to entertain. It just does so in a different way.

Jeanne Burch
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It's possible to construct a game using PowerPoint. PowerPoint has hyperlink capabilities, which mean it has branching possibilities. One of the instructors at my school has beginning students set up an adventure-type game using PowerPoint. They get a sense of structure and rules without needing much in the way of technical competence.

Or maybe adventure games are now "not-a-game" to the people who think Proteus is "not-a-game"? I've had students insist that titles like Phoenix Wright are also "not-a-game" because they're "just" stories.

E Zachary Knight
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Jeanne,

I understand that Power Point can be used to make games and other entertainment. However, Simone made the comparison between Power Point itself and Proteus. Very different things.

Simone Tanzi
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well.. It wasn't meant as "Proteus is like power point" but as "Proteus, just like power point, is not a game".
Adventure games are games of course, and phoenix wright is not only a game but a great one.
But back on Proteus.
I don't really understand why not being a game should sound derogative to the point that people should react badly at such a notion.
you can enjoy a lot of things that are not games, nobody says that only games can give meaningful entertaining experiences.
Nobody argue to the fact that movies, songs, novels are not games ... this is just something that resides in a still dark unexplored corner. maybe even a precursor of a new medium. But I still think it doesn't qualify as a game lacking the kind of interaction and the kind of response to those interactions that are expected in a videogame.

E Zachary Knight
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Simone,

"well.. It wasn't meant as "Proteus is like power point" but as "Proteus, just like power point, is not a game"."

This doesn't make any sense. Are you saying that Proteus is a utilitarian application and thus not of any intrinsic entertainment value? Because that is what I am getting from the statement.

Perhaps you choosing Power Point was just a bad example on your part, but really, the idea doesn't fly.

mosh Carman
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Yes it does, he even gave you other examples, come on, make an effort and read it again.

Aaron Steed
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Um it's on Mac as well.

Saul Alexander
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The whole "not a game" response is very limiting. Definitions can change and expand and change over time, and I for one am glad that our games sites are filling up with these supposedly "not game" things. They are are often far more interesting than the things that sit in the traditional box of "game". I'm going to call all of them games, because it suits me.

Lewis Wakeford
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I have nothing against "not games" but I don't like to see them judged as games, for better or worse. I especially don't like them being marketed as games. There are some things the two groups can learn from each other, but "not games" are free from actually needing engaging gameplay. Not that that is a bad thing, it just means that generally the two are very different despite using the same technology.

I certainly don't think they should be winning video game awards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dear_Esther#Awards_for_the_2012_comm
ercial_release
At least not for areas that aren't directly comparable. I think it's fine for them to get awards for artistic and technical achievement, but not for actual *game* design or *usage* of those assets within a game.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Wow, just wow. This comment made me cringe. Even though in other comments on this thread you make an argument for it being a "game", here you completely disregard any of that and then say it doesn't deserve to be honored for good design because, well, I don't know why. It is honestly a beautifully designed experience and I don't see how that is undeserving of being compared to other pieces of game design.

Lewis Wakeford
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It can be honoured for good design, but not good *game* design. You can compare the visual art of Proteus to any video game and discuss which you think is better, as you aren't really taking the game aspect of either piece into account there. However, you cannot really justify comparing Proteus to video games as a video game. For example a popular category in game awards is "best usage of visuals", that means using the visuals to enhance the gameplay (which arguably Proteus does not have), as opposed to just "best visuals" which is purely aesthetic. That's all I'm saying.

Using a different example. You can compare the visual art in a comic book with the visual art in a painting, and even conclude that the painting has superior visual art. But that does not mean the painting is "better" than the comic book or even that the painting uses that art for a better overall effect, because they are completely different mediums and you cannot really compare them.

What I'm trying to get at is that although they are perfectly fine pieces of art in their own right, I don't really think it is correct to treat them as video games.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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I feel like you're still arguing against your own point in your other comments. This argument can also be made for saying a shooter game can't have its design talked about in the same context as a puzzle game. If this game can't be compared in that forum, then all genres of games would have to be separated as well.

Jannis Froese
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"but "not games" are free from actually needing engaging gameplay"
In my humble opinion Proteus has engaging gameplay (going around discovering, which is also a strong gameplay aspect in other games, for example Minecraft). So I think it actually is a game.
Or more specifically: I don't see why "go around and discover everything" is not a valid gameplay idea while both "collect as many coins as possible" (PacMan & Co) and "go around and shoot people" (generic FPS) qualify as such.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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@Jannis I agree that Proteus does actually have engaging gameplay, but aside from that, a "non game" or whatever should still be engaging, even if that is done without traditional gameplay. It makes it no less designed than a traditional game and many of the elements of those designs can be talked about between games.

Jannis Froese
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@Jonathan very true. That leaves us with the interesting question where we should draw a line between game and not-game (or should we at all)

I think I agree with you that I don't currently see why we should exclude Proteus from being a game. It has game design and game play, both terms normally applied to games (is non-game play even a thing?)

Jonathan Ghazarian
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@Jannis Yeah, I agree. I also think I agree with the sentiment of not excluding.

Lewis Wakeford
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@Jonathan I only said Proteus was closer to being a game than Snakes and Ladders, other than that I don't think I've said much that could be interpreted as contradiction. A shooter and a puzzle game may be very different, and that is why you rarely see direct comparisons between the two. However, all genres of games share common design concerns such as "how do we display the game state information to the player" or , basically things relating to the actual game logic and how it is presented to the player. Things like Proteus don't share these concerns because the actual game system is minimal to non-existant, and as a result they are designed from a totally different angle.

Again, I'm not saying that it's a bad thing to not really be a video game, but I don't really want to see people analysing these things as if they where. I don't want to see things like "this is a break through in video games as art" or "all you do is walk, this is stupid!" popping up on review sites.

@Jannis The exploration in minecraft provides an additional mechanical incentive as well as the thrill of adventure. You need to find resources or decent spots to build on. Exploration that doesn't help move you toward your goal is not really gameplay (at least in my opinion), that does not mean it isn't fun or doesn't add something to a game.

Proteus does actually look engaging to me, but the engagement does not come from gameplay.

Jonathan Ghazarian
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@Lewis I would still disagree with your explanations. Even if you claim that a game needs to display state in some way, Proteus still passes. You are directed to different experiences and you are informed when you find events in the game world, even if those events don't necessarily give you a reward outside of the experience. The player is always informed in some way. Regardless, concepts such as directing a player and informing them of the rules of the world exist in this space just as they would in any other game.

As far as reviewers talking badly about a game, well, that should not be a designer's concern. There will always be people that don't get your product.

Lewis Wakeford
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@Jonathan I didn't mean to imply that displaying state is what makes a game, just that all games generally have to consider how to approach it. By state I meant game state, which Proteus does not really have. The island has its seasons and your character is in a certain position and orientation but if you tried to break down the "rules" of Proteus as a game you would struggle to find any.

It really goes back to my Snakes and Ladders example. You get to move the pieces and roll the dice, and you feel involved, but other than refusing to continue you can't do much to control what happens. My time with Proteus didn't feel like I had anything other than superficial control of the world around me, I was just along for the ride. It was wonderful all the same, but I don't think I "played" Proteus, I'd say I "experienced" it but that sounds horribly pretentious.

About the reviewers. Yes, the designer shouldn't and (with a project like this) probably doesn't care what they say. I'm just saying that in the interest of both video games and whatever these other things should be called, it would best if people treated them as separate things.

Axel Cholewa
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I stick to Wikipedia: "A game is structured playing [...]".

Snakes and Ladders is structured, you play it on a board with unchangeable rules. Proteus is structured, you play it on a computer with unchangeable rules. Therefore both are games.

I really think that the Wikipedia definition, while being the most general, is also the most useful. Everything else draws boundaries which are even more arbitrary.

Joseph Elliott
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I really like that definition. While Proteus certainly feels unstructured, clearly it's not. The game was designed, and a certain kind of experience will arise. I don't have strict goals in it, but who needs them? I make them up as I go along.

When I'm chasing around musical creatures, absolutely giddy about the soundscape I'm a part of, I am clearly truly playing. So it's a game.

Lewis Wakeford
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I think for something to count as a game, there has to be a feedback chain between the player and the game system. Snakes and Ladders does not have this, it essentially plays itself, you might physically have to move the pieces but you are not needed to make decisions. It's basically horse racing if all the horses had identical odds. You do not *play* Snakes and Ladder's really, everyone is just an observer.

You could make a stronger argument for Proteus being a game because it as at least interactive. You can decide where to go and certain things react to you. Though I think a game needs to put up some resistance and try and slow you down. That would be my guideline for deciding what is a game.

Game: Player vs Game or Player vs Player via Game
Not Really a Game: Player left alone

That said, I don't think there is a definite line in the sand where something stops being a game. It's more of a gradient of "gameyness".

Ian Uniacke
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So is LARP not a game? I feel that definition is too narrow somehow. But then again...I think it's like the term "art". We're trying to apply a term to broadly and therefore it has no meaning...when we can in fact come up with a bunch of words to talk about them in a meaningful context.

Going the other direction (saying "all of these things are games")...well great. Now what? There is no conversation to be had if all we are saying is (to a greater or lesser degree) "everything is a game".

Lewis Wakeford
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I'd say LARP is just pure role playing isn't it? At least from my understanding.

Axel Cholewa
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@Ian, Lewis: LARP is a game. It is structured: It takes place at a certain location and you follow certain rules, like talking in shakespearean manner and dressing funnily.

And not everything is a game, but structured play is. If you don't play, you don't have a game. If there's no structured, it's not a game. Everything else is. This might be quite general, but at least everyone knows what you're talking about. If you want to narrow that down, you need to talk less generally, about video games, role playing games, action games, board games etc.

@Lewis: I don't like the "versus" in your definition. There is no need for a game "slowing you down". I think interactivity is all you need: You act on the game and the game acts back (by showing you different visuals, for example).

Oh, and Snakes and Ladders does act back: players put the stones somewhere, and the game board says "you're closer to winning". So the game world acts back, it's interactive. It is a game.

Patrick Roeder
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Typically you would define any kind of game as an activity with rules, objectives, and win scenarios. I mean just because people say this isn't game (which to my understanding is a fair assessment) doesn't discount its merit as interactive media. Its kinda like calling an improv group or a stand up comedy routine theatre.

Adam Bishop
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So SimCity isn't a game then? You can't "win" at SimCity without imposing your own standards outside of the game's coding.

Lewis Wakeford
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I don't think it needs explicit win conditions. There is an obvious implied goal to Sim City: build the City you want. Just like how in Minecraft the goal is to build whatever you feel like. What makes these two games despite not being able to beat them is that their are mechanics in place that make those self-defined goals challenging. In Sim City you need to manage the economy and such, while in Minecraft you need to gather resources and avoid getting killed by enemies.

Obviously you can choose a goal that the game won't challenge, but they where designed with a general idea of what you where going to attempt and try to resist you.

Jannis Froese
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Proteus also has an obvious implied and challenging goal: discover as many things as possible.
Of course, "enjoy the (audiovisual) scenery" is also an obvious implied goal, even though I wouldn't describe it as challenging. However, I don't believe that a game has to challenge to be enjoyable (but that is worth a discussion of it's own)

Bart Stewart
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That word "challenge" comes up a lot in objections to something being a game. The feeling seems to be that play has to have risk (of losing) to qualify as a real game, otherwise there's no way to win.

Where the disconnect appears to be is that in a game about the exploration of systems and relationships, the challenge is more abstract. It's a lot easier to see and measure "physical" phenomena in the gameworld, and to see actual physical movement applied to a keyboard or controller, than to see connections about systems or people being made inside a player's head.

But that abstract stuff, when done for fun, is definitely "play," just as much as kicking a ball or blowing up tank-shaped pixels. And when there are rules for how these forms of interactive play happen... that's a game.

Lewis Wakeford
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@Bart I'd like to clarify that I didn't necessarily mean a game needs to be challenging, as in difficult. I just meant that they need to present you with obstacles or problems to solve. It doesn't matter if these problems are pretty easy.

About exploring systems and relationships and all that Jazz. I still wouldn't classify that as a game. Yes, it is fun. Yes, it is also a part of many other games. But it can't be a game on it's own. If you use that as a definition then plenty of things that clearly are not games, become games. Like chemistry sets.

Now, if you take that relationship analysis and make the player apply that knowledge to solving a problem. That would be a game.

Jonathan Adams
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I'd like to see an actual term come into use to describe these digital exploration programs, even if it gets put in the game aisle like how fantasy is listed as Sci-Fi so often.

Jannis Froese
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Perhaps some term like Digital Experience to describe both games and those things over which there's the current debate whether it's a game or not.

Luis Blondet
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Is a sandbox or playground a game?

Joe E
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This is a great way of framing the question. I think at face value, a sandbox/playground is not a game, but provides the platform for playing games on: we've all been kids, so we know explicitly stated goals or rules are not needed to play a game, we make it up as we go in our heads. Something similar happens when playing "non-games", except the range of the possible stories we tell ourselves is narrower, to fit the simulation presented. (On the other extreme, being presented with a list of objectives and constant feedback to adjust player behavior is asking us to match our internal story to the presented one, which often results in a disconnect between story and gameplay.)

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David OConnor
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Applying the sandbox metaphor to game development is interesting. Applying this metaphor quite directly, UDK or CryENGINE would be considered to be 'sandboxes'... a toolset that facilitates the construction of games and play... and a real-world 'sandbox' is a space that facilitates games and play.

We have entered an area where traditional words do not quite encompass the concepts that we seek to express.

Mark Venturelli
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"Key believes that strict definitions really don't matter at all when it comes to game design"

Which is the exact opposite of the truth. That's when you need tools and vocabulary to get the job done. Mass media can throw lingo such as "gameplay" and "mechanics" all they want, but professionals should take it a little more seriously.

Adam Bishop
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Lots of great songs have been written with little regard for music theory. Some good music has even been made explicitly rebelling against music theory. Why can't it also be so for games?

Joseph Elliott
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Look at any other artistic medium and consider your statement. Conventions are useful and one would do well to study them, but by their very nature they're limiting.

I'm sure the creators of Proteus took the design of the game very seriously. There aren't "strict definitions" in the kind of design they're pursuing, but there are certainly consequences to their design choices.

Every designer (every artist, really) needs to have a firm grasp of what the desired effects of their design choices will have on their audience. Conventions are useful tools to have at your disposal, but breaking conventions (or outright ignoring them) is where the vanguard of artistic exploration lies.

The "tools" and "vocabulary" you're talking about are absolutely crucial, but so is defying and subverting them.

Mark Venturelli
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And how many great songs have been written because of music theory? You also need to be aware of something in order to subvert it.

"Really don't matter at all" is quite the opposite of what you guys said.

Jannis Froese
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I think that Proteus is a beautiful example to remind us that games are an art and not an industrial product.

That also applies to diversity. If you gave Leonardo da Vinci a picture from Picasso, he might debate whether that picture is art, or if you gave him some modern painting composed of color splashes he might debate whether it is a painting. But as these things came up we included them into our definitions of art and painting.

The English language is not written in stone, so if we feel like something should be called a game, there's no need to look at our definitions, let's just call it a game. If we feel like we need a new term for this kind of thing because we don't want to call it a game, we should make one and use it.

So the real question shouldn't be "What does the definition of game say about this" but "Do we want to call this a game, and why".

Patrick Purcell
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I think that seeing developers experimenting without focusing primarily on monetary returns (not that monetary returns are bad!) it is one of the surest indicators that our art form is growing

Luis Guimaraes
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The difference between a toy and a game should be second nature to any game developer.

Edit:

Also, there are "games" (1) which are things people game with; there are "video-games" (2); and there are "games" (3) as short for "video-games" ('games), which is where all the confusion comes from.

Linus Tan
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I still can't believe how many people get their underwear in a twist over the definition of games.
As an industry, we need to start accepting that the word 'game' means different things in different contexts. That's just how language works! e.g. Free beer vs. free software.

So, "game", in the usual context we (devs) use it in, is:
"game", noun - Interactive software created primarily for the purpose of entertainment.
Usage:
"Developers sell their games on many platforms, for example, the XBOX Live Arcade."

So, in this context 'game' is a name for a medium, not a concept. Think of it as similar to words like (theatrical) 'play' and (academic) 'paper'

In a more formal context, 'game' obviously refers to structured play, usually competitive. Going further, in a mathematical context, 'game' is defined by game theory, and applies to systems such as the financial markets.

Should we be really arguing whether Call of Duty belongs in the same category of systems as the New York Stock Exchange?

Rob B
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Seems to me the entire problem can be fixed with an appropriate genre name for these kinds of games. 'Interactive sculpture' or some such, once you have the genre name established then people know what they are getting without spoiling anything or getting tricked by hype.

There is no clear way to define out the fact that this is indeed a game of a type and no real reason why its a huge deal anyway. The only issue that remains beyond that is classifying it for player preferences.

Robert Crouch
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The idea of a game is poorly defined. My own idea of a game is just an interactive mutable state. But if you take that to its extremes a word processor or spreadsheet program might be a game. Maybe this comment box is.

A more typical idea of a game depends on structure. A word processor doesn't have any evocative structure. Or a programming IDE. Proteus has a pretty evocative structure, but doesn't strongly define an interactive mutable state. You can alter your environment, but can't really make persistent changes.

Another feature is extrinsic goals. These aren't so necessary because there's lots of examples of things we are happy to consider games that don't feature this. Sim City and Minecraft are two good examples. Both of them define and structure the environment, both of them give you a state that you can modify and organize. Neither have set goals. When the goals don't exist we like to call these sandboxes, but we can often let them be called games.

Proteus defines its structure and its environment. What makes it tricky is you can't change it, you can't really "play with" it. At least not in a strong way, at least not much more than you can "play with" a movie by rewinding it or watching special features, or changing camera angles. It does lack a goal, but I think that's less important. If you could gather sand and build a tower, people would be happier to call it a game. But when all of your actions don't affect it's state long term, then it's just the structure.

Tim Burris
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This has all happened before...

Playing a game is "the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.", or more fully "To play a game is to attempt to achieve a specific state of affairs [prelusory goal], using only means permitted by rules [lusory means], where the rules prohibit use of more efficient in favour of less efficient means [constitutive rules], and where the rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity [lusory attitude]"

http://www.amazon.com/Grasshopper-Games-Life-Utopia/dp/155111772X

I am wholly convinced that this definition covers the entire gamut of gaming in a useful and comprehensive way. I highly recommend the book.

Does Proteus fall under this definition? I don't know, I haven't played yet. But from the little I know, I suspect it does enough to say "I haven't _played_ yet."


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