When discussing games and how they have developed over many years, it really sparks my thoughts in terms of how we have been molded to see games in certain ways. The “popular” game is in actuality quite boring in its mechanic. The basic explanation of current popular games would spark very little interest in their base form, yet continued use of similar mechanics have produced some of the most popular games. On another level, the rules and regulations set forth in games often mold the player to continue to conform to the restrictions that society has set. I would ask why in a game such as The Sims you aren’t allowed to go around and kill people. The objective of the game, in addition to why it has been so popular, is its mimic of real life, yet many aspects of real life are missing from the game. These sorts of restrictions, which have become conventions, define what a game is today.
One game that came out of the “Fluxus” movement that I find breaks this mold that we set for ourselves is White Chess. This movement promoted games as an art form in addition to a form of entertainment. In this game all the pieces were white and the players had to cooperate in order to reach a sort of end state. Pearce discusses that the idea is not to out-smart your opponent or to have a “battle” on the board, but to acknowledge the beauty in the pieces and board itself and the potential they have. “It is in the playing that a chessboard comes alive, and the game object becomes a catalyst for play.” In this way the only way to understand the game is to play it and discover the beauty in the art form.
A second game that I think is interesting and breaks the mold of traditional games of today is Prui. This game developed out of the New Games movement which held the motto “Play Hard, Play Fair, Nobody Hurt”. There isn’t much of a win or lose state to the game, and there absolutely isn’t any resemblance of a versus style gameplay. This is a perfect example of DeKoven's ideas when he talks about "games are suspended from reality and have no bearing on what occurs outside of the game". People just walk around asking “Prui” and if they get no response then they stop asking or responding; in addition everyone has their eyes closed. In order for the game to end there must be a sense of cooperation within the entire group. Ludica was talking about another new game when he said the game “became a playground in which players could inscribe their own rules and game activities”, but I feel that this applies here too. You as a player can choose if you want to become part of the masses, or people not responding, or listen intently and attempt to stay towards the people who are talking still, thereby causing the game to continue. Fron talks of “one of the participants changed the rules inadvertently…she protested the chosen Prui and became the self-appointed Prui essentially breaking the rules of the game”. Either way can be fun and provides different difficulties to achieving your personal goal, or trying to work as a whole to grab up the players trying to elongate the game.
Earthball is another New Games movement game that is interesting. This game involved two teams trying to push a giant ball to one side of a field. This at first would seem like something that mimics the “work on teams to defeat the opponent” mentality, but what came out of this game is truly interesting. Rather than trying to make the ball get to one end or the other, players would swap teams when it looked like their team was going to win. Players did not want to win the game, but play the game. DeKoven speaks about a post-game moral possibly having impact on the world after the game, but this isnt completly applicable in this game. Because people enjoy playing the game more than winning, everyone should walk away from the game with a smile on their face. This brings up interesting paths when developing games for today’s world. If we could create games that were more fun to play than to win would they sell? And more importantly would people enjoy it as much as Earthball, or is it the group effort and the outdoors that sold this game?
At the end of the day I think that the games that break the mold of today’s popular games is where society as a whole is heading towards. Games like Portal or Spore are capturing audiences without any killing or wars, but with complex thought processes, and innovative thinking.
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Brand, Stewart. "SPACEWAR: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums," Rolling Stone, December 7, 2001. http://www.wheels.org/spacewar/stone/rolling_stone.html
Fron, J., Fullerton, T., Morie, J. & Pearce, C. (aka Ludica) (2005). "Sustainable Play: Towards A New Games Movement for the Digital Age." Digital Arts & Culture Conference Proceedings, Copenhagen, December 2005.
Pearce, Celia. "Games as Art: The Aesthetics of Interactivity." Visible Language: Special Issue on Fluxus. January 2006.