Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Definition of Gaming

Well I guess this will be the first proper post here. Because I need to relate topics to the lectures (in this case Lecture 1 - Fundamentals of Game Design) it is important that I discuss my point of view in relation to what we are currently learning about (or something). As I am still uncertain what exactly I should be writing here I will nevertheless give it a go lest I start this Journal too late and get caught several days (weeks) behind.

I have realized over the years that gaming means something very different for every person interested in the activity. For some, games are merely a distraction, something to keep the mind occupied while bored or lazy. Some genuinely love playing games and would quite happily (without being embarrassed about it) label gaming as one of their favourite past-times or leisure activities. Many gamers even develop strong relationships with their games, possibly due to their experiences with the game or the rewards (either mental or in-game) that can be achieved. This strong bond with games can lead to what I familiarise with as being a 'hardcore' gamer, someone who, in a simple sense, takes gaming (or games) quite seriously. There are also, of course, people who take this one step even further and become 'game-addicts', something that usually happens with RPGs.

No matter what type of gamer people are, they will all generally play games for a single reason. Enjoyment. Playing games is (and should be) fun. Whether it be fighting games, FPS, RPG, platform third-person adventure, strategy or sim, people undoubtedly get something out of the games they play which pleases them and encourages them to play more. This is basic human nature, if something is enjoyable or desirable then the instinctive reaction is to simply want more of it or return to it at some point in the future.

What is interesting though is that not everyone likes the same games. Indeed, the willingness to play a game stems from certain motivational factors that a game must possess for it to be interesting. These motivators are completely different for every person. Sometimes they are quite clear, genre or theme based. For example, a hardcore FPS fan may not find an FPS set in the 1800s to be all that engaging. Sometimes they are more in depth, such as the speed of the game, the rate at which you can change weapons or how you interact with NPCs. Preferences such as these are not simply characteristics of the game, but more so the characteristics of the gamer.

So having established that gaming is not the same for everyone, even though we all play games for the same reason, it becomes rather difficult to define exactly what Gaming is, except simply put as 'fun'. I don't believe that one can easily define Gaming in a generic explanation because everyones play-style and preferences are different. Gaming is simply what gaming means to the gamer, which is something that should not be disputed in any way.

So how does this help from a Games Design perspective? Well, from this we can deduce that is pretty much impossible to design a game that would be enjoyed and played by every type of gamer. It would therefore be wise to stick to a genre, theme or category instead of making games that are too abstract in their entirety. This would lead to more focused and clearer design objectives for game developer's, something that I think a lot of games (particularly recently) are missing, especially on the PC.

Make the emphasis of the game based around fun (or some sort of enjoyment, however twisted) and you are sure to make a title that will be enjoyed by at least someone in the world. Even if it is only yourself :).

What a load of nonsense. I might throw a picture or two in later if I feel like it...

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