Game Formalism: Gaming the game of games


Ah yes, Game Formalism.

Yeah, so I don’t know what game formalism is. Nobody does, exactly, according to game design theorists. But they go on to say formalism in game design is basically the idea that defining a game as a medium is really important. And, it has something not exactly to do with content.

Now before you pour sugar in my gas tank for even attempting to talk about this subject, you should know that I’ve read A Theory of Fun by the poet Raph Koster and I’ve listened to some podcasts by the music theorist Keith Burgun. I’ve even managed to buy and read a book, at arm’s length, about the philosophy of irony by Ian Bogost. Not to mention the fact that I’ve watched at least three Frank Lantz lectures.

Where was I? 

How important is it to define game and gaminess?

Really important, that’s what!

It makes making games that easily easier to discuss. We can say, “No, that’s not a game!” or “Yes, that’s definitely a game!”, and other important things. We can also say: “Oh gosh, not another so-called ‘video game’ that doesn’t have actual gaming elements!” We can praise games for their depth too, I mean have you even played golf?

The sky is the limit…

…as long as the sky has some sort of interactive system.

You: Weather system? 

Me: You betcha! Climate change is the game of… ummm… winning the sky!

Climate change houses the game of politics, a system you interact with unironically because you can make a difference. This idea of systems inside of systems is like a nesting game nested within another game… of games. The Game of Thrones is literaturely nested, like a dragon-bird, in the climate change game.

Make sure you win! 

Much like blogging, life’s a game. 

Not… a puzzle.

Life is a simulation in a computer.

It’s a big joke.

I mean, this post is…

A joke.

What do you think this is…

some kind of game?

Post-ambulation: I actually like playing all sorts of “games”, games that are more like movies, or where the games are pretty much not games, and games that are deep as fuck, like chess. I actually like those people I mentioned above, too. 


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