Hey, its a game!
I want this blogpost to be about the context
and purpose of games. Sure in the readings are things that define games
such as this quote from Games as Art, written by Celia Pearce,
"[g]ames are first and foremost about play. A game is a dynamic system,
a system designed to create what Alan Kay, the original designer of
windows-based computer interface, calls 'hard fun.'" And this does say
something about the purpose of a game being "hard fun" but lets look at
several of the examples of games and gaming in this subject of
alternative game movements. To be alternative to me means that you
provide a new and different apporach, technique, purpose, or outcome to
an action or system. I think all games do that because to me "to game
is to entertain" be it yourself or others. SpaceWar, Knots, Chess,
Monopoly, and other games all have a purpose when played but to call
them alternative we have to look a bit more at why they exist as a
I think these systems of rules and objectives exist as a game because the creaters either wanted to provide themselves with a method, avenue of creation or wanted to use a "game" as a medium (which is of course the message). To call them "alternative" is to make a judgement of the context around its creation or ressurection as a game. Certainly I think that SpaceWar was "alternative" because it was a brand new way of interacting with the world of computing. I think that Rock, Paper, Scissors TAG! is also "alternative" for slightly different reasons than SpaceWar because its a "new" way of playing a game already around or you could say a merging of two games to provide a commentary on community and group psychology if you wanted to get technical about it. Knots is alternative to me but Ii don't know how unique the idea of working together in physical contact is when the normal mode of work for people is phyiscal labor. I think that knots is "alternative" because the industrial revolution changed the way people perform tasks.
So this blogpost is pretty much over but I wanted to take a quick overview of the spacewar article in the Rolling Stones because of this line i just recently reread in it "His account of the invention of Spacewar is not only intriguing history, it's the most,sophisticated analysis of good game design I've ever run across - elegant work. But that's in retrospect; back then it was just kids staying up all night." I agree. I do so because the following points that are iterated in the article*:
1. By picking a world which people weren't familiar with, we could alter a number of parameters of the world in the interests of making a good game and of making it possible to get it onto a computer
2. We made a great deal of compromises from some of our original grand plans in order to make it work well. ( This is a mandatory step in a development process if it is ever to be acceptable. If you're interested in a mass media example explore the iterative development of Warhammer Online where they went from having many many capital cities to explore to two at release of the game.)
3. One of the important things in Spacewar is the pace. It's relatively fast-paced, and that makes it an interesting game. It seems to be a reasonable compromise between action - pushing buttons - and thought. (Game Balance!)
4. (And finally an example of iteration) "Having a background was important to give some idea of range and so on. Our Spacewar did not have gravity affecting the torpedoes - our explanation was that they were photon bombs and that they weren't affected by gravity. Subsequent versions on newer computers have got enough compute time so that they can afford to use gravity for the torpedoes, and that makes it a more interesting game."
*all of this material can be found at http://www.wheels.org/spacewar/stone/rolling_stone.html
These are just some of the points that were put into the article and since I have essay i'm currently writing about my experience as a CM i thought I'd harp on what I consider one of most important elements to the major which is learning the process of design. As I'm mentioning in my essay I think that the design process is extremely important because it can be used as a skill set and generalized to any number of applications in life.