Free-expression. A word that can mean a great deal of things. It could simply refer to the way a child openly and freely beats blocks on a table playing a game of war, that only exists in their mind or when you dance for the sake of dancing in a room full of complete strangers. Free-expression is just that, free. There are no rules, there is no winner/loser and only the construct of your mind do you have to limit yourself. It is the purest form of freedom, as children do it without any prompting. Adults tend to lose the full effect of free-expression because of social constructs, fear, or their inability to break loose from the chains of man and enter his own brain.
Man/woman likes to have rules they make us feel se
cure. The mere thought of a situation without rules makes any man shiver in his preverbal panties. Imagine a situation where you are thrown into a room, without any instruction, with a bunch of other star eyed peps. Now the room is filled with random objects. There are no rules, just you in a room with a bunch of crazies with weapons! Every field out there that has human participants has some sort of ethical code that prevents such situations because we as a human species have deemed rules as something of a necessity in our society and has been further and further adding to rules of a multitude of natures. As you flow inward toward the center of the circle of games and away from things that are otherwise free-form or free expression. This picture from our reading on Koster should bring home the idea of free-expre
ssion to games, even though free-expression is not the only example on the outer ring.
Now the game I played this week was Tale of Tales: Vanitas. The first thing I have to say about this game is that there should have been some sort of warning on the app site that said ‘Hey if you want to waste your time, buy this one.’ Not that there isn’t intrinsic value to the game to some people, to me the app was worthless in the sense of taking my mind off of my frustrations and setting me free into the spirit world of happiness/fun. Although this is not a critique of the app, instead it is a conversation about if Vanitas fits into the category of a “game.”
I can say that the game did have a sense of aesthetics and physics. The objects were well defined and had a great deal of shading to the colors and surfaces, as
well the objects seemed to flow and roll much like the real objects do in a box. Indeed there was some depth and functionality to box itself, tricking your mind into thinking there is a space that extends downward into your screen. If you look past the fact that these details slow the app and not to mention your device down, they do add to the usage of the app in itself.
Now if we take the hardline approach of the representational graph then we know that the game need to have rules, variable outcomes, attachment to the outcome by the player, player effort and negotiable consequences. Vanitas clearly has rules, although they tended to be vague and spiritual saying things like “Reflect on your objects” which is an odd thing to say about three random items in a box. And since there is no outcome, that I could foresee, I could not be attached to nothingness. I would say that these by these two emissions the app could not become a “game” in our current understanding of the word/concept.
It could be said that Vanitas is more of a spiritual experience than anything. Since the game is not free-expression, in that it has a set of rules (although not pedantic), and the mere fact that you are playing it on a platform that only allows a certain degree of freedom, it can be thought of as a borderline case. This group of play lacks essential elements that make them games, a game although still involves some of those facets. The app is a place where, for a particular person that is not me, one could ponder upon the tree objects and their arbitrary meaning in their own lives. Again we come back to the concept of humans crying out to the moon for rules, as even my inner conscious yearns for some kind of tangible ending and more rules to follow to get there.
Oh and BT Dubs don’t waste your money on Vanitas unless you also like blindly following horoscopes or voodoo. Even then, bewareee.
Blog 1: The “NUF” Factor