"Not a game"

Quick rant about videogames here.

There's a long-simmering Cold War over the definition of Game. The lines are split between "That's not a game" and "Yes it is", and if you're on the opposite side people will get angry at you. It flares up in comment sections across the internet. People won't talk to each other over this.

The origin story, as far as I can tell: One day, someone made a weird interactive thing. It was featured on a gaming website. Some loser came along and said "That's not even a game." Everyone who likes weird interactive things collectively responded to this with "Yes it is!" Some well-meaning academics bumbled in trying to get clear definitions, and are now eternal enemies with these people.

There's two statements in the phrase "That's not a game", as used by an internet asshole.

1. Games are the only worthwhile thing (to talk about on this website, to make, to care about, whatever).

2. You are not in that category, games.

In defending yourselves from the second statement, you've ignored the first. It's as if a bully said "What are you, gay?" and you tried to defend yourself by saying "No, of course not!". Both contain two statements:

1. Being in category X is bad.
2. You are in category X.

Defending yourself from statement 2 means accepting this value system, where category X is bad. And everyone has accepted this! It seems like most of the weird interactive thing enthusiasts now accept that if you say something is a game, you're praising it, and if you say it's not a game you're attacking it. Game dev Anna Anthropy won't talk to academic Raph Coster because he doesn't agree that dys4ia is a game. If anyone makes statement 2 (You are in category X) everyone assumes they've made statement 1, that they're talking about the value of the thing.  That's why anyone who's interested in definitions has gotten caught up in a blood feud.
Talk about an appeal to emotion. Isn't it fucked up that the weird kids, the people making the craziest stuff out there, have accepted the value system of the anonymous internet gamer bro they hate? That their bizarre, boundary-stretching thing is only worthwhile if you call it a game, of all things, instead of a poem or a story or a sculpture?

We need to go back to the root of statement 1: Should non-games be talked about on gaming websites, submitted to game jams, and awarded trophies at game events? This is the issue at hand. The definition of game is irrelevant.

I believe the answer is yes. No-one is going to talk about this shit except us. Check out this article. This guy made a hypertext story. He didn't think of it as a game: he posted it to the literature community.

"I think the most pages I saw any one person view was in the teens. Hardly anyone stayed with it for longer than a few minutes."

Then the gaming community found it.

In June, when the issue launched, and the literary announcements went out, the file that is my story was loaded n times.
In July, as of yesterday, the file was loaded 10*n times. 

But the really cool part is how much more time people who approached it as a “game” spent than people who approached it as “literature”. The game community page numbers were consistently in the 50-70 page range, and the highest individual number I saw was 104, by a person with a Munich IP address who spent 4 hours with it. There are some people who haven’t left it. They have simply kept it open in their browsers and once a day for the past week they add a couple of pages to their total count.

Whatever category this thing falls into, we need to be talking about it. Nobody else will.