I was in a game design class when a teacher asked me about my favourite game. I was excited to answer the question until I realized it was harder than I had thought. I wondered if I even liked games.
Whenever classmates talk about Halo or Dark Souls, I wish I could share their enthusiasm. I’ve never finished a role playing game. I never finish games in general. Why was I even making them?
I realized that what I have the attention for typically doesn’t have a finish and sometimes isn’t considered a game.
My favourite games include Minecraft and The Sims. These are all games where you are left to define your own goals. My favourite thing to do in The Sims is build houses, and now that I’m making games, building environments is one of the best parts. Some of the things required in game making, like painting terrain or imagining a story behind an object, are things I started doing while playing The Sims.
Another thing I did as a kid, as I’m sure many others did, was try out all the standard Windows ’95 programs. When I got tired of Paint, I went on PowerPoint and tried to make my own games.
First, all the functionality had to be tried out. PowerPoint has animation, custom shapes and most importantly, hyperlinks, which means you can create rudimentary interactivity.
It was amazing. PowerPoint was essentially one of my first digital games and my first game engine.
The silliest of features can make people excited about a game or a program. My friend raved about being able to get a dog in Dragon Age. There wasn’t much this dog could do, she just liked that you could have one.
I like baking, so I’ll play anything with so much as a bagel-like logo. I think we get excited because these symbolic objects are more aligned with the types of stories we like to imagine when we play.
I hope that there are more games that let people define their own goals and express their creativity. However, I’m sure that whatever is available and whatever the designers intended, people will exploit programs for all sorts of purposes; creative, playful or both.