Wednesday, November 20, 2002

Understanding Play: Games and Storytelling

Got some interesting links today from Prof. Dennis G. Jerz on Interactive Fiction. Amongst other things, he's working on this IF glossary and book.

This led me to Roger Giner-Sorolla's 1996 Crimes Against Mimesis (any aspect of an IF game that breaks the coherence of its fictional world as a representation of reality.) He writes, "There are three possible elements of challenge in a game: coordination, chance, and problem-solving. Chess is an example of a game that is pure problem-solving; a slot machine is a game that is pure chance; and a shooting gallery is a game that is a pure test of hand-eye coordination." (I am reminded that several people wrote to discuss play as problem-solving, which does not easily fit into the categories I mentioned earlier.) In terms of my initial criteria of simulation or mimicry, Dr. Jerz also points at Emily Short's Desiderata for a Physical Simulation Library.

I mentioned Espen Aarseth's book Cybertext a few days ago, and certainly Jill Walker and Torill Mortensen know way more about this stuff than I do... And at Peter's suggestion, I'm also tracking down a copy of If/Then: Design Implications of New Media.

And now this makes me wonder how we might distinguish between play and games. Justin wrote that "the most obvious differentiation that I can come up with is that a game generally has a pre-determined win/lose state, whereas play may continue indefinitely. This, of course, has its exceptions..." and he pointed me at Danny Hills' keynote at the Game Developer's Conference "back in 2000 where, among other things, he discussed the how's and why's of Play, and also talked about why Play is so important."

Thanks for the wonderful feedback - I've got some interesting ideas to work with.

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