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Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred

Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« on: July 09, 2012, 11:26:01 pm »

Browsing the net I stumbling on the on this:
http://www.raphkoster.com/2012/07/06/two-cultures-and-games/

It is basically a Raph defending that trying to figure out a theory that truly describe games is a worthy effort and not something that excludes things. For instance the comparing of certain games to power-point slides pop up again. I do not really agree with this at all and even think this hardcore "Games is X" is harmful. However that is not really what I want to discuss.

Further down Jonas Kyratzes makes reply to this with views that I pretty much share. However, and this is my point here, he always says that he hates notgames. Which seems so weird to me, because Jonas have been doing notgamey like stuff for 10 years or so now (many of his stuff resemble what people on these forums having been doing). He writes:

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Ah, but you see, I find the idea of “notgames” infinitely idiotic and completely alien to everything I’ve ever wanted to achieve as an artist working in the interactive medium. It’s not like film and theatre, it’s like pseudo-artistic European directors (fictional in this case, but such types exist) claiming that their movies are “notfilms” because they are unlike what Hollywood produces.

What I find most striking of this is that "notgame" is referred to (at least in my mind), as genre. Raph Koster also makes a similar statement:

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But people in games ARE engaged in a process of understanding games better, and many of the things they are learning are outright absent in notgames. Notgames do not have NP-hard problems or common brain hacks at their central core. Games do. Notgames do not involve the mastery of abstract systems of relationships. Games do.

He even uses the term to make a case for his own beliefs. He also suddenly seem to know a lot about Notgames...

I think this is a bit bad and might be miss-communication and/or wanting it to be what they believe. Notgames has from the start always been a challenge, a movement. Did it not even say so on the front page of notgames.org (not seeing it now)? The intention has never been to be a label for the public, but something for designers of videogames to rally up behind. At least I never expect online stores to have a "notegame" label. Or am I alone in thinking like this?

I do not really care if anybody hates with the notgames initiative or think it is a sucky idea. I am just a bit worried that it might for some reason alienate people that actually agree with the movement. I am also a bit afraid that notgames will become a genre, because the word is so exclusive. I mean I see no problem with making a notgame that does contain the mastery of NP-hard problems*, and I hate for it to be used as specific as Raph does. As I see it, all of us are simply gathered with the idea that games can be made without having many of "essential" elements that is such a widespread wisdom in the industry.

So, should be think about changing something or am I just worrying over nothing?

*In simple terms: problems that are hard to solve, but easy to see when the correct solution is reached. Making music a sort of np-hard problem for instance, very hard to come up with a good tune, but when you do, you know you got it. Basically any creative endavour is np-hard, difficult to produce but easy to enjoy.
« Last Edit: July 09, 2012, 11:27:53 pm by Thomas »
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2012, 02:54:32 pm »

They don't get it. The games community gets really nasty as they see everything as an attack on them personally. I don't think we can communicate our ideas any better. They either get it or don't. If they dont, fuck 'em.

Also, I don't know what the hell "NP-hard" games means. And what is all this crap about mastery? As far as I know, that just means trail and error and that's the laziest form of gameplay there is.
« Last Edit: July 10, 2012, 03:18:54 pm by ghostwheel »
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Irony is for cowards.
Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2012, 04:00:39 pm »

It is a little ironic to see someone say what games 'are' and then to cry out notgames are not games.

I realize the point of the genre question you are making, Thomas, and I agree that it is best to have notgames as a 'not sure what but not this' type of movement rather than a genre. An invitation; not to have "NP-hard" problems or challenge or any such and for that to be OK as long as the end-result is in some way important.

I think Kyratzes has a point (though he bears himself as-if someone had just thrown a drink in his partner's face) in his complaint of "notgames" supposedly being the anti-games. I even agree with him, it is not.

Of course I shan't touch the debate with a 10-foot stick Smiley
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2012, 06:09:06 pm »

The way I see it, there are certain things the human mind is built to do that are very useless to fight against.  One is that the mind loves to categorize and to label.  The other is that people hate to be labelled.  Even in this forum, the word "notgame" is used as a noun to describe things we've made or found, rather than simply understanding it as a coming together of like-minded people.  I consciously eschew the word "notgame" in my posts, but the temptation is always strong.  I've also noticed there have been quite a few articles on Gamasutra lately by people wanting to define "game" and "video game" once and for all, as well as to codify any number of other terms.  Most of these are painful reading, and there is often a lot of blowback in the comments, but it nevertheless has become the topic du jour.  I don't really think there is a way to tackle the issue intellectually.  The intellect is the very stuff of definitions and divisions.  I would say the appropriate way to react to this sort of thing is to get offended, maybe blow off some steam over here, get over it, and go back to making stuff, and it'll either work out or it won't.  Maybe our legacy as seen from the outside could be that we rejected the codification and eventually came out with a certain range of products that are surprisingly varied and unique.
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #4 on: July 10, 2012, 08:05:55 pm »

I don't think we can communicate our ideas any better.

I'm not sure that this is true. The ideas have all been discussed and clarified a lot on these forums, but how much external communication of these ideas has there been? I can't think of that many instances.

When Jonas says "It’s not like film and theatre, it’s like pseudo-artistic European directors (fictional in this case, but such types exist) claiming that their movies are “notfilms” because they are unlike what Hollywood produces" that's not really the case, if this were notvideogames rather than notgames he would have a point. It's more like if films were called videoplays and had all started out as recordings of plays, then one day someone said I'm going to use this medium for something other than recording plays, for notplays. Perhaps part of the problem is that people use the words games and videogames interchangeably? Does he think that calling things notgames implies they're not videogames?


As for notgames being used as a category, I think it's inevitable. As long as notgames is something, you can create a category from it (and someone will).
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2012, 01:05:44 pm »

He also suddenly seem to know a lot about Notgames...

Haha. Cheesy A lot more than I do definitely. We should invite him. He could teach us!  Wink
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2012, 01:08:03 pm »

Notgames has from the start always been a challenge, a movement. Did it not even say so on the front page of notgames.org (not seeing it now)? The intention has never been to be a label for the public, but something for designers of videogames to rally up behind. At least I never expect online stores to have a "notegame" label. Or am I alone in thinking like this?

Totally agree. I think the text you are referring to is this:
http://notgames.org/blog/2010/03/19/not-a-manifesto/
And we keep repeating this in every presentation we give about the subject.
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2012, 01:10:32 pm »

The games community gets really nasty as they see everything as an attack on them personally.

True. Which is one of the main reasons for starting this website and this forum, in fact: to be able to discuss this sort of design in peace and sincerity.
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2012, 01:10:58 pm »

It is a little ironic to see someone say what games 'are' and then to cry out notgames are not games.

HAHAHA!  Cheesy
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2012, 01:13:48 pm »

if this were notvideogames rather than notgames he would have a point

Good point!
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2012, 01:28:03 pm »

I understand what you're saying, Thomas. I too am concerned about potential members being turned away from our community here because they mistakingly believe that there is a notgames agenda or a notgames category that they don't see themselves as part of. But giving the obsession of nerds (developers, fans and academics alike) to once and for all define games, I don't think there is much that we can do about this. It's an uphill struggle that is best ignored as the hobby of some otakus.

Maybe we can contact those people who seem to be interested in notgames as a concept but turned off by how the word is used by people like Raph Koster. Just send them a personal email explaining what notgames really is.

And of course, we should use every opportunity we get to point out that notgames is a challenge, an idea, that it is very much about videogames and to some extent even about games (in a wider, more playful sense than most videogames allow for) and certainly not a category. Starting on this forum, perhaps.

I have submitted two proposals to the GDC Europe for presentations that would have clarified this. But sadly both were rejected. Perhaps the people from this forum who are presenting should squeeze a little paragraph into their presentation to talk about their own take on the concept of notgames.

Because I think notgames is inspiring and very helpful. And above all, it is really working! More designers than ever are working with notgames-like concerns and even the press is not nearly as hostile anymore as they used to be.
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Re: Notgames as a genre & notgame hatred
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2012, 02:22:57 pm »

Would this help clarify things?
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