Priceless Play – 1 December 2018

I’m back from celebrating my time off for American Thanksgiving to bring you the final installment in my close examination of game components. The pair to my last piece, on embodiment and movement, we’re taking the deep dive into space and movement.

I know not all games are made of only four elements — time, rules or constraints, embodiment, and space — but it sure seems like that’s what make up the games I like. Sometimes it can feel like there’s so much Discourse about what does or does not make up a game: Does it require skill? Can you win? Is it difficult? Are there points? At the end of the day, if these questions aren’t proving productive or generative, it seems like it just isn’t worth it to ask. Questions I find more interesting are: what does this piece do with its components? What about it can I find compelling? What does this game teach me? Where does this game challenge me?

When it comes to movement, I think that space and embodiment are two sides of the same coin. When playing a game, one often embodies some sort of representational (or otherwise) avatar, and then there is the space through which that representation moves. There is Pac-Man, and then there is the labyrinthian space through which the Pac-Man Pacs. Last week considered what it meant to control or embody those representations, and this week’s post looks at the requisite space around those representations which gives them context. Here are some games with some neat focus on space:

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