What We Get From Games

Something that I champion here on Simplikation is the notion that we can examine games beyond the bare-basics of "oh, this is fun." That we can take a game and dissect it, deconstruct it, experience it in new and layered ways.

The best thing about this is that anybody can do it. All you have to do is take an interest beyond the blind consumption of artistic material. Once you start looking through systems, culture, history, and context, games open up like a flower, and even the most tonally deaf games can give us a sense of wonder and connection.

To that end, I put out a call to Twitter.

The answers I got were all interesting, and show a lovely sense of diversity in how each person approaches games in varying ways.

Interesting Systems

As always, some games were looked at in terms of their systems rather than any sort of narrative. They are examined as interconnected machines working together to mystify and stall the player. Not every game has any interesting story, and mechanical skill and intelligence can be just as rewarding as a good plot.

A Complicated, Connected World

Of course, there's also the emotional and narrative complexities which allow certain games to resonate so deeply and so profoundly with their audiences. Characters and stories that keep you playing, keep you invested in the cast, just like the best novels.

Narratives and Mechanics Intertwined

Stories and mechanics don't necessarily have to be separate. Mechanics can influence the narrative and vice versa, creating a game that pulls its audience into the world and blurs the line between game and player.

Aesthetic Appreciation

We often overlook visual style and sound design in our pursuit of complex narratives and complex systems. That doesn't mean they can't be just as important. Whether it's lulling you into a trance or introducing you to a new aesthetic, sometimes all a game needs to be interesting is a sense of style.

Culture, History, and Meaning

Some games we like for reasons outside of their quality as a game. Whether it forces us to think about the world around us, introduces us to a new group of people, or gives us a new perspective on games and their relationship with the player, is immaterial. Not all games have to be good to be important.

Emotional Resonance

Emotions, and where we are in our life, have an important effect on how we understand media. When you build a game that can tap into that sort of raw emotional connection to touch somebody else's life, you've made something truly special.

Examining Games

The point is that you - and anybody - can contribute to this medium in real ways. There's no gate on the door to prevent you from being a good critic. Contribute your thoughts, explain what you got from the experience, and share it with others.

Games are so diverse, so meaningful, so important to people for all sorts of reasons. Let's celebrate the artistry put into every game, and respect them by thinking about what makes them great.

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