A Game that’s Not A Video Game


Since the platform was on my cellphone technically it is considered a video game. For game #5 I played a series of board games on Game Pigeon through my iphone. It was a change in genre from my previous games because:

  1. they are not any high tech virtual reality games they are just board games
  2. I was playing with another player

The way it works is if you have an iphone, you can enable imessage, which is the same as text messaging but via wifi and GamePigeon is a feature within imessage that lets you choose from a variety of games to play with whomever you are texting. For example if I send a request to play checkers, my friend would reply by making a move( in the game) and it would go back and forth from there until whoever wins. The provided video trailer shows how. Click me!

The games provided are:

  • Checkers
  • Chess
  • Mancala
  • Dots and boxes
  • 8 ball
  • Basketball
  • And many more


Throughout the two weeks I switched between three games 8 ball, tanks, and sea battle.

To play 8 ball you aim the pool stick at a ball and rotate around the table. As you are rotating a diagram appears on top of the ball that shows at which able you must hit the ball to make it into a pocket. Once you have chosen a position, you go to a panel at the side that lets you determine how much force you wish to put on hitting the stick. This encompasses one turn, so then once your action is complete GamePigeon sends it to the other user and it goes back and forth from there.

In Sea Battle, you are shown a blank view of the ocean with a grid one is yours and the other is your opponent’s, the objective is to invade (based on guesses) all of my opponent’s ships while protecting your own ports. So for example I throw a bomb at the upper left corner of the blank grid but I don’t hit any ships, this tells me that my next move would to try on all the other locations instead of that one.

In Tanks, there is a 1D view of two tanks facing each other with a tower in between them, the goal is to aim the cannon towards the opponent’s tank and try to destroy it. This must be done at least three times to win. The tricky part of this game is aiming the cannon just right and using the right amount of power (which is an adjustable option) to hit the tank on the other side of the tower.


I don’t consider these games art at all. I mean they have visually pleasing features  but there is no deep symbolism that categorizes them as art. Art has certain requirements that makes it art. According to Winkelmann art has aesthetics, which is derived from natural beauty and cannot be imitated.

“In the masterpieces of Greek art, connoisseurs and imitators find not only nature at its most beautiful but also something beyond nature, namely certain ideal forms of its beauty, which… come from images created by the mind alone.”

The Hegelian concept somewhat agrees with Winkelmann on how art is an idea that comes from the mind but Hegel is more about how art can be reconfigured and have a process.

“unity can enter the art consciousness only through the unfolding and then the reconciliation of the particularizations of the Idea, and, through this development, artistic beauty acquires a totality of particular stages and forms.”

We also learned about Becker’s presentation on collective activity in art, it takes more than one person to bring the art in its final format. Collective activity is a universal thing this is where it can apply art to anything, the laptop I’m typing on is made through collective activity, the desk I’m sitting on is collective activity but are any of these things art? No. This is where art gets tricky because it can be so easily applied to anything.


GamePigeon doesn’t invoke any of these theories it is just a form of interaction or entertainment between two players. The act of play through GamePigeon, I feel is a different story. I find it remarkable because it takes on the idea of how modern technology is starting to create a barrier between physical interactions. Videos games is one of the biggest advocates in this case. Slowly we are getting enveloped into artificial senses. Sometimes it is a good thing because the progress in technology can lead to bigger solutions like ways to cure cancer, or heal untreatable disabilities, but using modern technology to create entertainment is an issue. One media of solution is creating art within technology. It shows that technology is being used to send a bigger message than what it is meant for.

These games are a perfect example of Roger Caillois’ Agnon (competition) category for games. The games are played between two players only and to reach a goal. According to Jesper Juul’s circle chart they fit all the requirements of a game.



GamePigeon turn board game interactions, that used to physical and one on one or with a group of friends, into virtual. These games are brought to life through animations and music. Compared to some virtual reality games, GamePigeon relies on the interaction of the users instead of the isolation. There is very little identification for art since the games are solely based for entertainment, but the interaction of the two players can be consider an art of another type.


Article Explanation

GamePigeon Twitter Page


12 thoughts on “A Game that’s Not A Video Game

  1. I am a tad confused by your title. As someone who also wrote their blog about a game that also inhabits a non-virtual form, this does not mean the game itself is not a video game. What is a video game? Well, simply put, is it not a game you play utilizing even the lowest form of visual graphics produced on a screen? It is still a video game, and should be criticized as such.


    • I agree with you, this is a video game. The way I looked at it was through the genre of the video games, in this case the genre was board games. But the fact that it is played on my phone, counts it as a video game.Which leads me to think how vague the definition of video games can be.


  2. I would consider this to still be a video game. A very simple version of it but a game non the less. Aside from that I did not even think about doing my blog on this game despite the fact that i play it every day.


  3. I initially had the idea to go to the Nickel Arcade in town but it was hard to follow through due to lack of time and availability. While writing the blog I hard time identifying its artistic features, the game was only a game to me not art. I also wasn’t able to find much information on its author. Through my limited research the only thing I could find was that the developers are GamePigeon and Vitalii Zlotskii, and besides the article provided about the features of the game, there was no informative resources on the developers and who Vitalii Zlotskii is.


  4. I was kind of thrown for a loop when I first read this blog, very curious as to where you were going with this very different idea. As I continued to read it, however, I couldn’t help but be blown away with how you approached THESE games. The organization of your arguments and the aesthetics tossed into your blog made it well worth while for me. I thoroughly enjoyed your blog.


  5. Do you consider games off of the apple store less fun because of the smaller platform, or do you feel that they lack in overall design?


    • I feel that games from the apple store make up for as much as they can for the smaller platform they have. It would all have to depend on what type of game you are playing. If I wanna play something like NBA 2K16, I would prefer it on a console than a phone because of the enhanced control that I have when playing with a console.


  6. I liked how you choose three games to focus on. Your analysis on whether this was art was interesting. I do agree with another commenter that your title doesn’t really match the blog post since this post was about art yet you didn’t believe it was art.


    • Sorry I meant the post was about games and art yet you say it the games are video games but not art. Your title just didn’t fit


      • I realize a lot of people had trouble understanding this, if you look at my reply to the first comment I hope it will give you a better understanding. Is it a video game? Yes. I consider them video games but not art. I just don’t consider them video games in the same ways as console games, because they are board games.


  7. Very interesting post! Your point about our devices removing the physical component of some games is very thought provoking. What are your opinions on these physical and social experiences immigrating to a different medium? Like you say technology has its benefits, but there is always a point where things can get out of hand. Do you think new criteria for art and game play will evolve as the games evolve too? Also there are some really cool Virtual Reality games coming out that put the physical element back into video games. In your opinion is this a step forward in technology or is this the caveman in all of us saying I NEED WORK.


    • That’s a intriguing way to put it, I never really thought about art and game play evolution like that. I feel that as games, art and technology advance what matters the most is how it impacts the society and community as a whole. If the new medium still forms some sort of physical connection between people then it is a safe advancement. And about Virtual Reality games that put physical element back in video games I think that is pretty neat but there is always something that needs fixing and there will always be new ways to make things better.


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