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A Matter of Semantics


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#1 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 09 August 1999 - 08:43 AM

I can see a definite trend in the game development industry to try to form our own game development "language". Personally, I think this is a very good idea, but I also think it can be VERY easy to go overboard, which could end up being detrimental to our purposes.

Basically, it boils down to there being some things that should be defined in great detail, and other things that should only have vague definitions so as to leave ample room for creativity and innovation.

The term "3D rendering engine" is a good example of something that should be thoroughly defined. It is good to know exactly what somebody is thinking of when they talk about such a thing.

On the other hand, defining something such as what a game is doesn't really have a point and could actually do harm. A definition as basic as "A program, the purpose of which is to entertain or occupy the user" is entirely sufficient without serving constrain what one might create as a game. Creating a strict set of rules that a game must conform to, however, might serve to limit the imagination.

NOTE: This brings to mind something that I read a while back about game programming. Sometimes the people who make the best game programmers are those who are new to the subject and who's minds have not yet been clouded with notions of what they "can't" do.

I can only hope that this struggle to create a standardized game development vocabulary ends up being successful without going overboard.


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#2 ghowland   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 08 August 1999 - 02:39 PM

The reason I have absolutely no fear in this going overboard is because Im not trying to create definitions that restrict what a game is. Instead Im trying to say ok, all these things are games, now what do they all share in common?

What separates something that is considered a game from something that isnt? Ultimately, even a bad definition wont stop a new form of game being made, as it will be done anyway. I cant imagine someone thinking of a good idea and then thinking of the definitions of the word game and saying "This is a great idea, but it doesnt meet the definition of a game, so I wont do it".

In the case that the definition DOESNT cover an aspect of something that is a game, then its easy enough to revise the definition as we've already done a number of times.

-Geoff


#3 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 08 August 1999 - 02:57 PM

Heh, nifty e-mail notification. Also like these little icons. Good job done by whoever coded this forum. Now, onto the topic at hand.

I suppose the point I was trying to make, although I might have strayed a bit from it, is that it is pointless to define something as diverse as what a computer game. There are so many games that are so different from each other and yet still manage to amuse us while we unconciously spend hours on end playing them. Also, I have to disagree about the impact of defining exactly what a game is. No, I don't think somebody is going to come up with a good idea and then say "Wait, this doesn't conform to the fourth point in the definition of game. Well, back to the drawing board." What I do think might happen is that somebody might come up with an idea that might not be fully covered by this definition and think "Hmm, we don't have point four in our game, now how could we add it in..." even though their original idea would have made a great game.

Will people actually go so far in conforming to such a definition? Probably not. But why have a detailed definition for something that does not require it? Good ol' KISS principle for me.


#4 ghowland   Members   -  Reputation: 134

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Posted 08 August 1999 - 08:40 PM

The point here is to keep it simple, but not bothering to define it isnt simple, its just avoiding the subject totally.

Keeping it simple IMO, means to not unnecessarily complicate the definition. IMO, for designers the current definition is not overly complicated. Keeping with the maxim of, "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler."

If anyone has any reasons that I can understand and follow to a clear conclusion for why part of the definition should be removed or something should be added Ill gladly do so. The process of this definition was not to create a word and then define reality by it, its to test reality and build a definition off of it.

Lets put it this way, what if people had been content to say "Gravity just makes stuff fall down" and left it at that? Why is it more necessary to define what gravity is than it is to define what an element of games are? There is a clear definition of acting, physics, reading, but games shouldnt have a clear definition?

I personally just dont think this is the correct way to deal with things as without a common language and understanding its very hard to build more complex understandings than the bottom floor layer.

-Geoff


#5 Shinkage   Members   -  Reputation: 595

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Posted 09 August 1999 - 06:27 AM

I see the point you're trying to make. Not trying to define how we make games, just how we talk to each other about making games to create a better, easier understanding within the industry. Is this somewhere in the realm of correctness?

#6 DavidRM   Members   -  Reputation: 270

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Posted 09 August 1999 - 07:27 AM

I'm gonna have to admit that I agree with Shinkage again...maybe I'm just feeling agreeable today... =)

Maybe "game" is simply too broad, too all encompassing, and too generally understood that seeking a precise definition borders on the irrelevant.

Though "game" differentiates...well...games...from other forms of entertainment such as film, music, or tearing the wings off of flies, is there so much confusion on the issue that it's necessary to be precise?

Is it a "game" or an "interactive movie"? Is it a "game" or a "toy"? Is it a "game" or a "novel"?

How much differentiation is necessary and how much is just marketing-speak attempting to carve out a new niche?

A friend of mine gave the definition of game as "Stuff we do for fun." While that doesn't exclude novels, movies, or even streaking in the downtown business district, it provides, I think, a clue to the scope of the word "game."

People will continue to do what they do if it amuses/diverts/profits them. Maybe they care if it adheres to some strict definition of a "game", but I doubt it. And, as has been pointed out numerous times in the last week or so as this thread has progressed, just because something adheres to the definition of a "game" doesn't mean it's fun.

And, no, I'm not advocating that we begin a new tail-chasing exercise trying to isolate "fun"... ;-)

But, with all that in mind, is it really necessary to isolate the term "game"?

------------------
DavidRM
Samu Games
http://www.samugames.com


#7 Queasy   Members   -  Reputation: 157

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Posted 09 August 1999 - 08:43 AM

Well, games are a form of art, no?

I think defining a game would be helpful. Geoff posted awhile ago:

"For designers to take the same sort of loose definitions when actually bothering to define it would be ignoring the actual meaning of what is involved in a game from a comprehensive perspective (as opposed to a outside trivial one). What it takes to be formally called a game, where a game is different than other entertainment devices, etc."

and I agree what that. So I do believe defining the game a little more would be helpful. However, I see games as a form of art. Okay, wait. No, currently they are NOT art, but I *can* see them as being art if more care was taken into the design.

Anyhow, with that said, it may be better to compare and contrast how the art of game design differs from say the art of oil paints, or music, or literature. From that, we may be able to focus more on aspects that make up a game and not accidentally tread on other arts (though sometimes that may be desireable).

For example, a painter knows that his power is in the colours he lays down on his canvas, but the writer knows his power is in words.
As a game developer, i believe our power is in allowing the player to mould himself into the game. He becomes *part(!) of the art in that sense. Even if it's as simple as a shooter, it is the player who decides how he moves, and when he shoots. I guess we've already called this "interactivity." Though art and music may be interactive in that the viewer makes that art relevant to him/herself.

And while i'm here I thought I might comment on the definition again.

Bingo is a game, but is it interactive? If so, how exactly do you define "interactive?"
And I know i'm a little late for this but....
what doesn't create a "focused reality?"

~Queasy.





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