This essay is a review of two chapters from books by Miguel Sicart and Tracy Fullerton. The first chapter talks about the definition of play, and the second describes the structure of a game. The goal of the review is to find two interesting points in each chapter and explore them. The author should agree or disagree with those points and provide the reasoning for their stance.
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The first chapter, titled “Play Is,” is from a book called “Play Matters” written by Miguel Sicart. It challenges the reader’s definition of “play” and establishes a theory behind the word while providing examples. The author talks about the importance of rules, noting that their existence and necessity are the reason why computers and games work so well together. The chapter contains a description of the different core qualities of play, going over some of them, such as the appropriative or disruptive nature of playing, in detail while only mentioning others in passing.
The first point I found interesting is the claim that play is a fundamental part of our moral well-being. According to Sicart (n.d.), playing is necessary because it allows a person to distance themselves from conventional morals and examine them in a different light. I agree with that; games often permit players to commit actions that would be considered immoral or illegal if carried out in reality, but they also display the consequences of such actions, showing why the morals and laws were adopted in the first place.
The second point of interest is the way the author talks about rules, describing them as a necessary but not the most important element of the context of the play. While in older games, they are immutable, and violations would often end the game, games that are more recent have ways to handle rule violations, and discussion and interpretation of regulations is part of the activity. I agree that a more freeform approach is desirable, though rules are still vital to the existence of a game and should be extensive and try to cover most situations.
The Structure of Games
The second chapter, “The Structure of Games,” is from a book titled “Game Design Workshop” by Tracy Fullerton. It begins with a comparison of two seemingly completely different games, Quake and Go Fish, and finds underlying similarities in their core concepts, explaining how those concepts are present in most games. Next, the author explains how a game engages the player, defines the concept of a game, and immediately suggests going beyond those definitions. The chapter contains a large number of illustrations that accompany the definitions established by the author.
An obvious point of interest is the ideas that unify most games, no matter how dissimilar they may appear. According to Fullerton (n. d.), these ideas are the presence of players, the existence of an objective, the presence of rules, resources, conflict, boundaries, and an uncertain outcome. When creating a game, one should begin with this outline and build the structure outwards from it. There are games that challenge that rule, but to do so and succeed, a creator must be deeply familiar with the concepts they are subverting.
The other interesting notion is the various ways a game may engage a player, a critical part of the design as games are almost always intended to be entertaining. There are the more obvious concepts, such as the premise, story, or nature of play in the game, but the author also describes less immediately apparent attractions such as character and challenge. It is true that in games, particularly those of more established franchises, the characters may become iconic and constitute a significant part of the attraction, and there is a category of games that are popular for their high difficulty, even if they may be lacking in other areas.
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Sicart, M. (n. d.). Play is. Web.
Fullerton, T. (n. d.). The structure of games. Web.