For some odd reason, last week turned out to be quite a “meta-gaming” week. And by that, I mean that last week I came across several games about games. Since it was such an odd coincidence, I though these links deserved a special post.
The first meta-game I’d like to talk about is The Marriage. The Marriage is a downloadable Windows game (sadly there’s no Mac version) created by Rod Humble (executive producer of The Sims) that was first shown on one of the Experimental Gameplay sessions at GDC 2007. To put it simply The Marriage is intended to be art. For some time now, there’s been a big debate going on about whether videogames should be considered art or not. What Rod Humble aimed to do with The Marriage is to prove that an piece of art can be created by interactivity alone, that is, by establishing a set of rules that govern the player-game interaction. Most people agree that movies are an art form (or at least some of them are) and interactivity is pretty much the only thing that separates movies from videogames. So by showing that interactivity can be an art form by itself we are one step closer to convincing the world that videogames are art. The main goal of The Marriage is to establish an emotional link with the player while the player attempts to figure out the rules of the game. I won’t say anything else about the game since doing so would probably spoil the experience for those of you who have not played it yet. In any case, there’s a very good explanation of the game’s rules and intended meaning on Rod Humble’s website, so be sure to read all about it after you play the game.
The other meta-game is actually a four game series called “Understanding Games”. Part 1 is my favorite of all four and deals with the most basic aspects of what a game is and why we play them. Part 2 goes deeper into what exactly is it that a game needs to be fun and not bore the player. Part 3 is the hardest of them all (yet, it’s still pretty easy) and talks about how players approach a game. Finally, part 4 talks about the characters inside a game and how the player looks at them. Overall “Understanding Games” is an interesting approach at explaining games. People who don’t know much about games will find these games quite revealing, and people who are game junkies already will probably have a better understanding of exactly why they spend most of their time playing games.
Finally, I would like to post a couple of links that people who enjoyed these games should like. I think I have blogged about both of them before, but it won’t hurt to do it again. The first one is a book called Theory of Fun which tries to explain what makes something fun. The second one is also a book, this one called GAM3R 7H30RY which talks about what goes on inside the mind of a gamer. Both are very good books and anyone who has any interest in games will probably have a good time reading them.