Editorial: Proving the Aussie right

The problem with simulation games, according to such internet sages as Julian “Oi Fosters” Taylor is that they are not games. If this is the case, then we do have a bit of a problem here. For the record, I do see his and Lusi’s point. Most simulation games do not operate on a win/lose basis. You win just by participating, kind of like in elementary school when we all won little trophies or certificates for playing sports, regardless of the scoreline. I still remember how much I hated that anti-climatic sense of non-accomplishment.

So, come on, sim game industry, do me a favour here and make more games like, I dunno, Recettear, that are still cutesy little simulation games, but have clear margins of success and failure. Unlike, say, The Sims, where death and dismemberment actually can be the goal and primary source of joy for the game.

8 Comments

  1. Lane
    Posted 2011.02.04 at 19:37 | Permalink

    Well, at least according to my favorite philosopher of gaming (yes, that’s a real title) Bernard Suits, what makes a game a game is that it imposes an artificial limiting condition to achieving some goal. Everything (including life) can be a game as long as you impose limiting conditions on it. Think of something mundane, like walking down the street. Now imagine that the only viable steps you can take are to not step on cracks in the sidewalk. All of a sudden what was a boring activity has been turned into a game. There is no “winning” or “losing” the game, just the fun of putting an artificial limit on yourself to see if you can do it a different way.

    Sandbox-style games and simulations share this feature with real life; there is no defined “victory condition,” instead leaving it up to people to make up their own. It’s like playing a structured game like tag as a kid, versus playing a game of make-believe where the point is just to enjoy making up a story about yourself. This kind of unstructured play has its appeals (Eve Online, Second Life, Fallen Earth, any sim game, etc.) but some people prefer structured experiences (all other games) that define what is supposed to happen.

    Which is not to say that the Sims creators should create a defined progression path, where “winning” consists of meeting certain objectives in life. In a sense, that ruins the purpose of the games, which is to provide unstructured play. And they are real games, Aussies and wannabe Brits be damned.

  2. Lusipurr
    Posted 2011.02.04 at 19:38 | Permalink

    Silly Lane. Silly, silly, silly.

  3. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2011.02.04 at 20:04 | Permalink

    @Ginia: Would you even like the Sims if it was a game? Seems to me that the Sims consumer base are pretty happy with it being a non-game, or at least this seems to be the case for the parts thereof which do not mind their hobby’s lack of validation as a gaming experience. If it was a game then it wouldn’t be the Sims.

    -Also, when did Lane start doing drugs?

  4. Lusipurr
    Posted 2011.02.04 at 20:39 | Permalink

    @SN: I think it may be related to his fascination with grilling things. Probably some sort of carbon monoxide poisoning from the barbecue fumes.

    @Ginia: SN is right. Maybe what you enjoy about the Sims is its ‘non-game-ness’. After all, not every enjoyable activity has to be a game to be enjoyable. I enjoy watching the Cricket, and the *act of watching it* is hardly a game, nor do I wish it to be.

  5. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2011.02.04 at 20:57 | Permalink

    The Sims is a big dress-up-box of girlyness, any game superimposed on top of this will only dilute the formula, and prevent you from being as spastic and lame as you truly wish to be. ;D

  6. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2011.02.04 at 20:58 | Permalink

    @Lane: You may wish to open a window when operating your grill indoors.

  7. Lane
    Posted 2011.02.05 at 03:19 | Permalink

    Grilling indoors is not something one does. Part of the experience is the open air.

    And if you’d read again, you’d see I agree with you that the Sims should not adopt a structured model… but for being a “big dress-up-box of girlyness,” it is no less a game.

  8. SiliconNooB
    Posted 2011.02.05 at 04:08 | Permalink

    Indeed, something either is a game or it isn’t, so naturally it follows that the Sims couldn’t be any less of a game than it currently is.