Extra Credits: Aesthetics of Play

This week, we talk genres and some game design theory. Read the full MDA paper here!

Show Notes:

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Recent Comments:

  • I feel like I'm pretty heavy on discovery these days.

  • "It may just be me but I got the feeling that the model described in this episode muddled one of the simplest ways you can classify a game i.e. by using existing genres that are used in other arts such as movies / books such as science fiction, horror, fantasy, mystery, thriller etc"

    Simple, but not very effective. Using a setting to describe a book or movie has some merit because the ONLY way you can experinece those mediums is with your mind. You don't interact with a horror book like you do a horror game. Is Castlevania the same kind of game as Amnesia: the Dark Descent. Of course not. Plus many games have multiple settings. Half-Life 2 has a horror section, but it is not generally considered a horror game.

    The thing everyone needs to understand is that categories are MEANT to limit and exclude. Stop getting so insulted about how people presume you will interact with a game. If I give you a piece of bread my assumption would be that you will eat it. I call bread "food" because of this. If you wear the bread as a hat or have sex with it, it doesn't make the designation of "food" worthless.

    Let's just see if what EC proposes is useful, and then make judgements. Let's say I'm a reviewer and I'm describing two games.

    1. This game has a strong focus on narrative as it's core asthetic. It offers a high degree of reflex-based challenge. Lastly, it includes an optional competitive component.

    2. This game was designed around Investment based gameplay (I hate the word "abnegation" being used to describe accumulation based systems like leveling. It's like saying weight lifting is abnegation). There is a reflex-based challenge mechanic, but it is regulated by how much you engage in investment. Lastly, it includes a strong fellowship component.

    Now pick the one that you'd like if Borderlands 2 was your favorite game. Ok, so obviously you'd pick 2. I was describing Diablo 3. As a player looking for those mechanics you would most likely enjoy Diablo 3 if you loved Borderlands 2. Now...maybe you wouldn't. Maybe you hate the art style, the perspective, the controls, etc. of Diablo 3. However, the odds of this system of description helping you find a new favorite game are waaay more likely to succeed than this one:

    1. FPS

    2. 3rd person action

    You like a FPS so you picked part one and got Bioshock 2. Now Bioshock 2 is fun, but it only shares one core mechanic with the game you love. You won't get the loot whoring/level building investment mechanic, you won't get the fellowship of co-op. You just get the reflex-based shooter stuff.

    The ideal solution, in my opinion, is the "Mexican Food" method. You start with a delivery system (a taco shell or a big, folded tortilla) and you load it full of the core principles (choice of meat, beans, and cheese).

    1. FPS <Narrative/Rflx-Challenge><Comp.MP>
    2. 3rd Person Action <Investment[Rflx-Challenge]><Fellowship>

    That way you get the best of both worlds. Because even though there is very little difference between a shredded beef taco and a shredded beef burrito, people still have preferences for how they take their filling.

  • Interesting episode and I also found out that I've always liked designing games more from the aesthetics perspective than mechanics.

    One thing... the meditation picture...

    Meditation has nnnnnnNOTHING to do with tuning out. It's the polar opposite of tuning out. :D

  • @AuspexAO -- yeah, the tex mex method seems pretty solid. including mechanics and aesthetics - mechanics because peeps are fairly used to classifying game that way now, and adding aesthetics cuz whether they know it or not, peeps have been thinking about games in that way as well.....

  • At first I thought that the video was saying that we should get rid of genres and just define games by their aesthetics, but after rewatching it think I get more where they're coming from. To me they aren't really saying "We need to redefine the genres" but instead "We need to pay attention to what these genres really mean". Each genre is a combination of mechanics, dynamics, and aesthetics; but the problem is that we tend to define games with only the mechanics. That's why Portal doesn't really seem to fit as an FPS.

    I feel like the reason I was confused about this episode was that it only talks about the aesthetics, but since all three are extremely complicated subjects it makes sense that they only had enough time for just aesthetic.

    I really hope they do episodes talking about how the paper addresses mechanics and dynamics, and then do an episode that brings them all together.

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