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Opinion: It's totally OK to not like 'anti-games' Exclusive
Opinion: It's totally OK to not like 'anti-games'
February 1, 2013 | By Mike Rose




Proteus was released earlier this week, and has caused quite a ruckus online, as players argue over its video game merits versus its lack of traditional gameplay. Here, UK editor Mike Rose discusses why there's perhaps a little too much snobbery going on.

It's an awkward point to have to make, but here goes: Enjoying recently released "anti-game" Proteus does not make you a better, or a more refined player, than anyone else.

It's currently not cool at all to say that you didn't enjoy Proteus, or to even hint at the idea that this isn't one of the most important video game releases of the here and now. This is an experience that is pushing the medium of what video games can offer us, and speaking out against it means that you clearly just don't like video games, period.

For those who have somehow missed it, Proteus presents you with a randomly generated, pixelated island to roam around, with animals to chase, rainclouds to walk under, and a night and day cycle which forms the basis of a vague sort of narrative.

I personally enjoyed my time with the game. It was a relaxing half an hour succeeding a bustling day of work, and it allowed my curiosity to wander off with a mind of its own.

That being said, I'm 99 percent sure that I'll never go back to it ever again. In my eyes, it's an experience worth having that truly did make me question what a "game" can be -- but I don't particularly feel the need to experience it again. Once was all the fill I needed.

My girlfriend had an entirely different experience. She sat down to play for five minutes, after which she took the headphones off and said "I don't get it."

proteus.pngI forced her to play a bit more, so as to experience the night-time in all its glory. But another five minutes, and the headphones were off again. "This is really boring," she said. "There's nothing to do, and the world is dull."

"No it's not," I replied... but then I sort of ran out of words. I mean, how was I meant to make her see what she was missing? If she wasn't "feeling it" emotionally -- which, let's be honest, is the essence of the experience -- then what else was there for her in Proteus?

And in turn, this made me consider the following: What if it was me that was trying so hard to get something out of this walking simulator, that I had lost sight of the fact that it literally is a game about prancing around a lo-fi island for half an hour?

Here's a comparison that will make monocles drop to the ground, and make me very unpopular: I've just spend the last three weeks gunning it around Far Cry 3's massive, gorgeous, detailed, incredible playground, with a brilliant soundtrack to boot. If Ubisoft had removed all the gameplay, all the characters, all the interactivity, and instead created an experience that was based solely on exploring the island while the music willed you on, would it be worth playing?

Probably not -- if anything, it would then be seen as a tech demo to showcase how beautiful Far Cry 3 looks. That's not to say that Proteus is a tech demo, but rather, that when someone complains that Proteus is boring because it has "no gameplay," should we really be so harsh as to snap at them for not being "clever" enough to understand it?

It's pretty easy to gush about Proteus and sound intellectual -- the imagery, the integration of sound and exploration, the sheer bliss of it all! -- and, in turn, dismissing the "I found it boring" argument is a piece of cake too. "You just don't get video games like I do!"

I've personally been on the other end of this argument before -- I didn't enjoy last year's Dear Esther at all (and that feels like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders to say out loud).

dear esther.jpgWhile I appreciated the game for what it was attempting to do, and I'm definitely glad that it exists, I just didn't "get it." I walked along a beach for a while, up a tight hilly path, through some fields, and into a cave before I decided that I was far too bored for my own good. I tried as hard as I could to engage with the spoken story, but it didn't grip me at all.

I remember mentioning the fact that I didn't really like the game to someone at a conference last year, and instantly wished I hadn't. As it turns out, you're simply not allowed to say bad things about these sorts of video game experiences! I learned my lesson.

And this is what I'm driving at: I am all about pushing the video game medium forward, and for that reason I see games like Proteus and Dear Esther as a huge step in the right direction. I'm hugely glad they exist, I'm happy to have experienced them, and I hope Proteus sells by the bucketload so the developer can continue to make his mark on the industry.

But what right do I, or does anyone else, have to tell someone who doesn't like it, or doesn't want to play it, that they are wrong and/or stupid?

Here are the facts about Proteus: It is very different from the norm. It has no real (or perhaps atypical) "gameplay" as such. It's clearly not for everyone. Part of pushing the medium is being open to ideas and opinions of others, so when someone is being mocked for not enjoying themselves "as they should be," who really has the higher ground here?


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Comments


Robert Boyd
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I'm glad that the industry has matured to the point where people can make a living making stuff like Journey if they want to. On the other hand, I found actually playing Journey to be extremely boring. And Journey is a game that at least pretended to have a little gameplay; I can only imagine that something with even less "gameplay" like Proteus or Dear Esther would send me straight into a coma.

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Joseph Elliott
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As a fan of all three of those games, you're probably right. Proteus, however, has a much more playful spirit than Journey and Dear Esther, while perhaps having less "game" than either of them. It's a delightful little world you're put in, but once you're there, it's mostly up to you to find the fun in it. It relies on a relaxing atmosphere and simple aesthetic pleasures.

I would never want to encourage anyone to steer clear of it, but it sounds to me like it's simply not offering something you'd be interested in. Which, of course, is totally fine!

Robert Boyd
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I thought the Proteus trailer was actually pretty cool but I got my fill just from the trailer.

Joseph Elliott
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Marciej: Sword and Sorcery is in no way undermining the work of other developers. That's absolute nonsense.

Calling Sword and Sorcery a game (or Proteus, or Dear Esther) affects nobody but the people responsible for those games. Inviting them into the club won't hurt anyone, and if anything, might make more "traditional" designers reevaluate their own philosophies, even if that means simply reinforcing them.

You don't have to like Sword and Sorcery. You don't have to make games like Sword and Sorcery. Sword and Sorcery is not hurting anyone, and it and it's ilk represent a very small portion of the market.

Joseph Elliott
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Maciej: "it's about showing the appreciation to people who value and design games as more than just visuals and sound."

Do you really think these people aren't getting appreciation? That philosophy has been dominant all throughout the medium's history, and still is. Nobody is suggesting that it's wrong or in any way inferior. But it's clearly not the only way of doing things, and exploring other paths is going to help the medium grow. Diversity is good! Why shun other kinds of design philosophies because they don't line up with your own?

"Calling everything a game undermines the work of developers who try hard to bring us not only an experience in visuals and audio, but also in gameplay"

This statement is an "us vs them" argument. What THEY'RE doing is undermining what WE'RE doing. I'm suggesting this is an overly combative stance and connotes exclusion.

Different design philosophies can co-exist, and I believe, strengthen each other. No "undermining" needs to take place.

Maurício Gomes
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I wonder if Alessandro's Noctis will ever get popular and hip enough to show on Gamastura like Proteus...

Jimmy Albright
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I know I'm really late to the party, but I finally got around to playing Journey. After hearing relentless hype for it I went in with a moderate level of skepticism. I had a pretty "meh" experience for the first 5, 10 minutes. I mean the art was fantastic, but I didn't really 'get' Journey. Then I got the segment where it switches to a sideview as you're surfing through the sand and you see a setting sun flashing through the pillars. My draw jopped. I started frantically yelling for my wife to come and look. We then sat together and completed it laughing, cheering (and panicking) at the struggles we faced along the way.

Different strokes for different folks I suppose, but Journey to me impacted in a way I never really thought a game could. It's understandable what people don't like about it, Journey broke a lot of the rules.

Paul Laroquod
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I don't understand why gamers are so precious about the word 'game'. Imagine avid readers pointing at some coffee table book and insisting, 'I know it has covers and you read it by flipping pages but that is not a book!' Imagine moviegoers refusing to call Baraka a movie. It's just silly I'm sorry.

Celso Riva
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Yesterday made a tweet about it and how I didn't like it personally, but I could understand why some people liked it. Was unfollowed and banned by another indie dev :D
If I had to ban/unfollow everyone who didn't like my games, I would have no followers!

Kujel Selsuru
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How can someone who's not a moderrator ban you?

Joseph Miller
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I haven't heard anyone telling people that they OUGHT to like Proteus or they're not "real gamers." The opposite statement, that finding Proteus a "game" shows that you're not a "real gamer" seems much more likely to be thrown around. The only reason I can conceive of that you would hear the opinion you talk about more is because so many mainstream gamers have no idea Proteus or Dear Esther exist. If they did, they would probably be complaining about how they are not games. At the very least, it seems that there are equal numbers of people on either side of the fence.

I think the only problem is when you say that Proteus is NOT a game. For example, I love the movie Lost in Translation. It's my favorite movie of all time. I think it's beautiful and subtle and the acting and writing are superb. I just saw Drive and loved it. I'm a sucker for slow paced movies. They are totally engrossing to me. Most people probably don't feel that way. If they want to see a romance they'd rather watch the Notebook, and if they want to watch an action movie they'd rather see The Avengers. That's cool. I don't mind that 95% of movie goers would find two of my favorite movies boring. But I would complain if they said they weren't movies, because movies involve things happening and "nothing happens" in Lost in Translation and Drive. Then I would argue that their definition of a movie is flawed.

Can you link to some articles/tweets/communications that imply that not liking Proteus is somehow wrong? I'm not trying to be a jerk, I'm just honestly curious who those people are and what their argument could possibly be.

Kyle Redd
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@Joseph

I don't have links for you, but can you accept that a good-faith argument could be made as to why Proteus and Dear Esther are not games? I don't think most of the people making that case are doing so to dilute their value or significance, only pointing out that there isn't really any decision-making going on on the part of the player.

Joseph Miller
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I don't understand your use of the term "good-faith." Do you just mean that there are people who honestly believe that Proteus and Dear Esther are not games? Obviously that's true, I just happen to think that they are wrong. I don't think people making that argument are all secretly trolls or anything.

What decisions do you make during the card games "War" or "Solitaire?" How about "ring around the rosie?" Are your decisions really that much more varied or interesting in those games?

Kyle Redd
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I guess it's just arguing semantics - the old "what defines a game" debate. By good faith I mean that if you were to recommend Proteus to someone and describe it as "a good game," they would probably expect it to have a certain level of gameplay, only to be disappointed that it's more of an interactive documentary of a fictional, animated world.

So, good faith in this case because people might argue that referring to these sorts of experiences as games causes people who haven't yet played them to get the wrong expectations for them - not intended as an insult by implying that something like Proteus is unworthy of the "game" moniker.

George Hufnagl
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Nice post, Mike. I largely agree with you.

The examples of Proteus and Dear Esther seem like clear cases of "the more things change, the more they stay the same" with regard to their entrance, reception and backlash. We've seen analogous situations in music, especially with regard to the work of composers in the 50s and 60s. Take John Cage's 4'33" - the goal is observe the sonic environment around you within a given amount of time and remove the formalization and authority of the composer/performer. Like much of John Cage's work, these games aim to not only bring new perspectives on what a game is, but introduce philosophical ideas on how to experience them. It is *completely* understandable why people who enjoy a more kinetic experience (like I do - I just have too much energy in my body) wouldn't enjoy this experience. That being said, the tent is large enough that we can accommodate all of these games, both in the marketplace for ideas and as commercial exercises.

Matt Robb
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We all work in an arena that amounts to a cross-section of game, toy, and art. The real common factors are that the product is presented through a screen and the product is interactive in some fashion. We really need to stop trying to force people to view our products as something that they're not.

Dear Esther was primarily an art piece as far as I could tell, no real game or toy aspects to it. I played for just about the exact amount of time the author of the article did and stopped for the same reason. I also get bored at art museums and am not into poetry, so I presume it's just not my cup of tea.

Proteus sounds like it is primarily a toy. Like most toys, it's not about what the toy is capable of per se, it's more about what the user can figure out to do with the toy. If you watch kids play with their toys, the toys are just props facilitating some sort of pretend-play.

The controversy around these products is muddled because of the demand that they be referred to as games. If you approach them expecting an actual game, you're going to be disappointed. If you approach them without this expectation, you might enjoy them, if you're into what they're offering.

The definition of the word "game" has been around far longer than computers. We need to stop trying to force the definition of the term to expand to fit products that have nothing to do with the word.

Joseph Miller
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What is your definition of "game" that includes Solitaire, the card game War, Ring Around the Rosie, Chutes and Ladders, but not Proteus?

Matt Robb
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"an activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of one or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators."

Adam Bishop
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The meanings of words change all the time as technology and culture evolve. Trying to fence off words because they were used differently in a different time is a battle that you're never going to win.

Joseph Miller
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@Matt Robb

Proteus requires skill: you must navigate the world. Some people don't know how to navigate in 3-dimensional spaces using a keyboard.

Proteus has an element of chance: The island is randomly generated.

Proteus has rules: Some actions are valid and recognized, some aren't. You can't do ANYTHING in the game, it only recognizes certain inputs.

Michael Pianta
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I agree with you Matt - I think all these discussions are fundamentally semantic. I don't think many people are arguing that Proteus isn't cool, but simply whether it should be marketed as a game or entered into competitions alongside games. For my own part I think Proteus is similar enough to a game, but that's not really the point. The point is that all this time people have been saying "game" and meaning two (or more) different things. Since words only exist to facilitate communication (and ultimately understanding) this is sub-optimal. It's certainly okay for words to evolve in meaning, but that evolution should be open and understood by all, when that's possible, so I think this discussion is good.

Edit: @Joseph - To me the main defining aspect of a game is the presence of a win condition. You can "win" at Super Mario, but you can't "win" at playing with an action figure. Does Proteus have a win condition? My understanding is that it kind of does - I saw the developer say that he added an "ending" right?

Matt Robb
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@Adam, if the meaning of words has no stability, then the words have no meaning. We already have words for these things that are similar or related to games but aren't actually games. Proteus is a simulation (used as a toy). Dear Esther is interactive cinema. Many products cross these boundaries, for example, a great many games are simulations, but not all simulations are games.

@Joseph, you basically just described reality in general. Here are some flaws. Navigating the world is a question of knowledge, not skill. Being better at it may improve enjoyment of the simulation, but it isn't relevant to actually using it. Randomness and chance are not the same thing. Many people would probably add that a game also involves some form of competitiveness, whether with others, yourself, or the designer. I'm not very competitive, but I'm a gamer, so I tend to leave that out.

@Michael, you totally get it. We already have issues with customers not liking products they purchase in this industry because they're badly labeled. The last thing we need to do is alter definitions to give the terms even less meaning and cause even more confusion.

ESRB - Whoever named this group gets it as well. It's not called the GRB or VGRB, it's the Entertainment Software Rating Board, because they're responsible for rating things that are "entertainment software" but are not games.

Matt Robb
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I have no issue with drifting meanings, but this isn't about a drifting meaning. If a game like Dear Esther is a game just because it is an interactive piece of software, then a novel is a game because there are games printed in books and there are novels printed in books. A Game of Thrones becomes a fantasy RPG. That's nonsense.

I interface with the story in a book by turning the pages and reading the words.
I interface with the story in Dear Esther by walking around the environment, watching and listening.

The medium doesn't make the game, the content does. And crossover always exists, for example the Lone Wolf books were both games and novels. Most RPGs are games as well as storytelling.

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Olivier Lejade
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Well, yeah... It's totally okay to not like Proteus, Dear Esther or Journey, just like it's totally okay to be bored to death by shooting games or grindfests. Tastes and all that...

What's not okay is to try to restrict games to just what one likes by using semantics such as "notgames" or "anti-games". Computer games are evolving at a rapid pace and insisting that only the known form can legitimately be qualified as games is stifling - to say the least!

Nicholas Capozzoli
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We've gotten to the point where video "game" is a misnomer that a lot of people get hung up on. I get dismayed when someone states that a game is "bad" simply because it has a minimal amount of gameplay. It's an expectation bias that clouds our judgement of the work, like saying that a book is inherently bad because it should have pictures.

We enjoy movies, paintings, music, books, and poetry individually - I see no reason that we can't enjoy media-straddling hybrid works as well. There's still plenty of room for individual tastes of course, which is why it's perfectly fine to not enjoy something like Proteus; the onus is on such experiences to provide compelling content, whether it's interactive or not.

Lewis Wakeford
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Why is it stifling to separate two different things into two different categories? It's not like the guys making Proteus looked at it half way through and said "Hmm this isn't really a game, guess we can't make it now.". It's not like something has to fit into any particular medium to be a legitimate piece of art or a legitimate product.

Being a video game is not an inherently good thing, not being a video game is not an inherently bad thing. But we shouldn't say things are video games just because they make video games look good. I'm willing to bet that if Proteus had identical "gameplay" but looked and sounded terrible no one would make a big deal about it's categorisation.

Joseph Elliott
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I wasn't under the impression that this is the kind of thing that needed to be said. Everyone's allowed to like what they like. Proteus is clearly not for everyone, and why should it be?

I'm guessing this article is in response to all the hype the game is getting? I think the only reason that's happening is because people are excited to see something that's different, and yes, pushes the definition of what a game can be. It stands out, so obviously it's going to be discussed.

I'm reminded of the film director Andrei Tarkovsky. His vision of what a movie could be was very different from others up until that point. He got a lot of praise, and still does, for pushing boundaries so elegantly, but at the same time, he made long, slow (and I mean really slow) paced films that would put an average audience member to sleep. It's simply not for everyone, which is in no way objectionable.

If this is a call against elitism, I'm all for it, but I feel like attaching that sentiment to a specific game is unfair. Proteus itself isn't an elitist experience. It's simply different. Which should be encouraged, right? The "snobbery" remark seems misguided.

Maybe I'm just missing all of the snobbery going around, but most people I talk to aren't particularly engaged by games like Dear Esther and Proteus (Journey seems to be an exception, as I've heard nearly nothing but praise). If anything, the snobbery tends to be going the other direction, with people excluding Proteus from even being evaluated or discussed alongside other video games.

The amount of articles discussing whether or not Proteus is a game versus the amount being written about the actual game experience is kind of revealing, and to me speaks against the validity of articles like this one.

Adam Dials
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As Sid Meier once said, "Games are about interesting decisions". I'm paraphrasing, but it's relevant here. Neither Dear Esther nor Proteus offer the player decisions. In that way, they player has little interaction with the story and little agency. They aren't games, they're first person digital films.

I'm not saying they don't have value. I enjoyed Dear Esther. But not in the way I enjoy games; instead, I enjoyed seeing how the story unfolded.

Joseph Elliott
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I don't make very many "interesting decisions" while I'm playing Super Mario Brothers, and you couldn't possibly convince me that's not a great game.

One could try and claim that choosing to jump on certain obstacles or enemies, or collecting or avoiding coins are "interesting decisions", but I'd argue that's a stretch. I choose which path I take to the end of a level, but I also choose which path I take as I explore the world of Proteus. The only difference are the number of obstacles and having a clearly defined end goal. The choices, fundamentally, are no different in my eyes.

Ozzie Smith
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@Joseph: I would say that what makes the decisions in Mario "interesting" is that there are clearly good choices and bad choices to be made (jumping on a turtle is good, walking into a turtle is bad). Whereas in Proteus there are no "good" or "bad" choices to make.

Although I think that Sid Meier's definition only takes into account one aspect of games (the strategy level) and ignores the other aspect: mechanical skill. A game like Basketball has a ton of strategy (IE interesting choices to make): where to shoot a ball, when to pass the ball, etc. Meanwhile in Ping-pong the game is almost entirely about the mechanic skill of hitting the ball. Both are games and have very different levels of strategy and skill, but nonetheless both have skill. Slot machines (and most gambling catalysts) are not games because they meet neither of these requirements.

But those are just the main aspects of the game: I would also put in the requirement that games need rules and goals for the player. This is why Sim City is not a game but a "toy" basically. Toys are great for allowing users to create their own games, but are not games themselves (IE a physical basketball is not a game, but the game of basketball is a game).

I haven't played Proteus but from what I understand about it there is not really any strategy or skill required of the player, but there may be some vague goal of reaching "the end"? If so then maybe you can consider it a game, but it definitely seems to me to check more boxes for a "toy" than for a "game".

And to be clear, I don't think it's a bad thing to be a toy instead of a game.

So to reiterate: I think it's fair to say that a "game" needs to require skill from the player (either in terms of mechanics or strategy), have rules that the player must follow (these are built into videogames), and have goals for the players to achieve. Sim City isn't a game because it has no pre-designed goals (although players can set their own goals and make a game out of Sim City). Slot machines aren't games because they have no skills (100% game of chance). Proteus probably isn't a game because it has no skill and no goals (or does it? not sure).

At least, that's how I determine if a thing is a "game" or not.

Joseph Elliott
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@Ozzi: Any definition of a "game" that excludes Sim City is a definition that doesn't work for me.

Joseph Elliott
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@Ozzi: All kidding aside, thanks for the lengthy reply. I can see your reasoning, but I find it to be unnecessarily restrictive.

I wonder if the word "game" has limited use in the world of video games. Much like the term "comic book", it really doesn't represent the medium very well. Comics don't have to be funny, just like video "games" don't have to necessarily share all the qualities of what has been traditionally considered a game. You could try and keep the worlds separate, but I fail to see a good reason to, and I doubt it will happen anyway.

Perhaps what we need are better labels for the different types of experiences "games" have to offer. Goodness knows, many of the ones we have now are fairly silly, confusing or downright misleading.

I just hope "anti-game" doesn't become one of them. It seems a bit too standoffish.

Mike Rose
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I just feel inclined to note that my use of the term "anti-game" is meant as a direct quote from my previous piece on Proteus, rather than to denote that I don't think Proteus is a game: http://gamasutra.com/view/news/185645/Is_Proteus_a_game__and_if_n
ot_who_cares.php#.UQwGkGfhJ8E

It's unfortunate that this is the element of the article that some people are focusing on, as it's really nothing to do with the point I was making. Feel free to replace it with "alt-game" or "notgame" or just simply "game" if it suits you!

Jonathan Ghazarian
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Yeah, that semantic back and forth has been a big focus on people talking about Proteus. As an aside, I would actually really love to have the option of just exploring the Farcry 3 world.

Kujel Selsuru
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This debate reminds me of the sims, I only ever "played" it once. My younger brother's friend gave us a burned copy and I'd never heard of it at the time so I figured I'd give it a shot. EA I still want that 50 minutes back I wasted installing that crap and looking for gameplay >:( I'm not really interested in stories but I really enjoy gameplay.
If someone releases something with little to no gameplay I'll pass, I don't play games to be told a story, I play them to explore worlds in my own way!

Daniel Smith
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Proteus is... an environment. To me, it's no more a "game" than my back yard is (though its arguably much prettier). What you choose to do in either of these places is up to the player, but with a little imagination could most definitely encompass games.

Where i feel Proteus struggles is that the depth of interaction is so shallow, that once the novelty of the aesthetics wears off, your only real activity is to explore, and though pretty, none of what i've seen is really that *interesting*.

Robert Boyd
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I think I figured out what really bothers me about this whole debate. It's not that some people like things that I don't - that's to be expected. It's the idea that a game has to challenge the very concept of being a game to be considered worthwhile art.

I think games that reinforce their themes with the actual gameplay mechanics of playing them are a much more interesting field of study. Games like Shadow of the Colossus, Dark Souls, Breath of Fire: Dragon Quarter, Siren, Gravity Rush, etc.

Lewis Wakeford
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I think you pretty much said what I've been thinking for a while but haven't managed to articulate. The art in game design is the art of crafting the mechanics themselves to fulfil a particular artistic goal. It is *not*using game mechanics to present other forms of art. Which is what Dear Esther and Proteus do.

Joseph Elliott
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That's a sentiment I can get behind. I wouldn't say it's a more interesting field of study, but certainly just as much so.

You don't have to break or ignore conventions to make art. Conventions are in place because they both provide a reliable tools for expression, and forces and artist to be creative to avoid the dreaded "cliche".

Take poetry as an example. Forcing yourself to make a poem work with strict metre or rhyme forces the poet to be creative or else be banal. A strict haiku is a rigorous exercise in brevity, but through those conventions, one can capture a beautiful view of life. On the other end of the spectrum is free verse, which someone like Walt Whitman used to be just as expressive and eloquent.

A game like Proteus is exciting because it tries something totally new, and in my mind at least, succeeds in offering a original lens to view setting and exploration in a video game. Games like Braid or Bioshock, however, use some of the most tired conventions of gaming, but explore and subvert them to wonderful effect. All of them art.

Lewis Wakeford
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"It's pretty easy to gush about Proteus and sound intellectual".

That's pretty much the source of the problem. You could replace the word "Proteus" with a number of different games, films or books throughout history that have found themselves in the same situation. The issue is that when something like this comes along you're going to get a lot of people who like or dislike it for what it is, but you are also going to get lots of pretentious people using their enjoyment of the piece of work as proof of their own superiority. Those same people are going to use dislike of the game as a sign of inferiority.

It doesn't help that it is also harder to sound smart when you try and express dislike for something. Anger, boredom and confusion are generally the marks of a bad game, but they can also be interpreted as a flaw of the person feeling the emotion. You're bored? You must have a short attention span. You're confused? You must be stupid. You're angry? Control your emotions, man. Basically unless you can find somewhat objective faults with something such as technical issues or bad voice acting you are going to risk giving people ammunition to dismiss you as an idiot.

Ryan Creighton
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i was attacked once by a capital-I Indie for writing an article admitting i didn't enjoy some of the indie auteur games *du jour*. He found it distasteful for me to say, publicly, that i didn't like the games (and he vehemently objected to my use of the term "capital-I Indie"!) i published these criticisms long after the games in question had been released, to scads of money and critical acclaim.

A capital-I Indie is someone who makes you feel bad for not not enjoying a title released by someone in the Indie Inner Circle... or, more accurately, someone who sees your public criticism as a betrayal of the unwritten rule that all indies must, by default, heap praise upon each other's games as a sort disingenuous high tide to raise all ships. More and more, the Indie Inner Circle is feeling like the Freemasons Guild, instead of a group of devs happily supporting each other.

Joseph Elliott
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Elitism is a shitty thing, yeah, but using a term like "capital-I Indie" is being overly combative and not helping anything.

Elitism exists on both sides of the line, but remarks like that, and like the ones from the person you discuss, only deepen the divide. It's overly dismissive, and frankly, obnoxious.

Joseph Elliott
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But should that isolation not be self imposed? Exiling a certain design philosophy can't be correct.

Think about Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas when they founded American Zoetrope in '69. They rejected the Hollywood system and all it meant, and started their own movement. They did so entirely of their own volition, as Coppola had already found success within the typical Hollywood establishment. No one threw them out. They just wanted to do their own thing.

Some artists thrive on isolation, while others thrive on community. There doesn't need to be an "us vs them" attitude for either party to succeed or thrive. All design philosophies can co-exist.

Luis Guimaraes
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The more meanings a word has, the less meaning it has.

How does Proteus, which is a video-game, benefit from being labelled a "game"?
Also. food for thought: is Proteus a "thing"?

And no, don't say "antigames". Why coin and exclusion term to separate something after a lot of people are wildcarding a word to include it? There's a name for this video-game category: Virtual Toy.

This whole thing is statin to sound like a America (Continent) vs. America (United States of America) silly semanthics bending.

The purpose of words is organization. Organization is good.

[User Banned]
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Chris Charla
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Does this mean I have to recast my enjoyment of Aquanaut's Holiday into liking a "not game"?

Enis Bayramoglu
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No Linux support?!? How disappointing for an Indie title that claims to be a unique experience...

Janosch Dalecke
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Well, some game's aren't really games, they are interactive art. But "game" just sounds so much cooler to many.

Anthony Albino
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I think this speaks to how limiting the term 'video game' can be and how often inaccurate it is when describing what we think of as games and video games.

To me games require a measure of success/fail. Narrative driven games tend to blur these lines.

I also think the 'video' part of video game is an irrelevant designation. Dungeons and Dragons for instance has more in common with many "video" games today than say bejewled and Tetris which have more in common with board games like checkers and chess. Video then is merely a delivery system.

I think the two most important qualifiers for identifying what we see as video games are that they are automated and interactive.

Boon Cotter
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My artificially restrictive definition of games is better than your artificially restrictive definition of games.

Tom Davies
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Is it really necessary to continually emphasize the existence of different opinions? Some people like something, other people don't. That's it, we all have our preferences. Who cares what label judgmental dicks decide to put on you as long as you play the games that you enjoy?

Also, I think you repeated yourself a bit too much with the "I know it's unpopular to say what I'm saying, but I'll do it anyway because I'm cool" attitude which kinda mimics the people you are trying to criticize.


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