Full Version: What makes a game a game?
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The question is the subject for this thread. What I quote is from a Facebook page I admin and I got to thinking about this when I was taking a shower.

"So I am going on another small rant on what defines a video game. Please not this is all just my opinion so you may think differently.

A video game to me can be classified as a map, a story, controls and graphics of some kind (that can even be pure polygons of different colors). That is all that needs to be for a game to be made. Earlier this year a game that originally was a HL2 mod called Dear Esther was released and the main controversy was this: "Is this a game?"

Dear Esther starts off with you, the player, on a dock on what appears to be an island and you have no idea who you are or what you are doing there. You are in the first person view and control the same way as other games do. Dear Esther is not like most games because there is zero interaction with other objects. You just move from point A to point B and experience the story that unfolds as you progress through the game. Occasionally the narrator will talk but most of the time it is not about what you are doing now but just an overall narration of things that seemed to occur with your character. Actually no I take that back, there IS interaction with an object, near the end of the game you climb a ladder and to do so you interact with it. I forget if you had to press a button or just walk up to it but the fact remains you DO climb a ladder and that is interaction.

Many people complain that this is not a game because there is not interaction with doors or people, there is no opening doors or getting in vehicles. You are there to experience the scenery and witness the narration. What helps the games re playability is that not all the narrations are the same with each playthrough, making the player play it multiple times in hopes of experiencing a different narration. There are also no puzzles to make the player(s) think which also makes people question if Dear Esther is indeed a game.

In rebuttal to these claims I have one question and that is this: "Have you ever PLAYED Pong?"

Obviously people have played Pong, it's a simple OLD game involving two paddles and a ball and you hit the ball back and forth in hopes of getting the ball past the opponents paddle to score a point. So why did I bring this question up you may ask and this is why: Pong has little to no interaction just like Dear Esther, you "interact" with the ball by blocking the ball's path past your paddle. That is it, there are no sounds, there are no narrations or cutscenes, there is no plot or anything and yet Pong is classified as a video game.

Why is that? What makes Pong a game where Dear Esther is considered not?

So I ask anyone who read all this the same question, do you consider Dear Esther a game?

The game is on Steam and on sale as of right now (December 26th, 2012)

Thank you all for your time and I look forward to your replies."

Also I stole this from myself on the DYKG forums, don't tell me.
My lazy copy/paste response
Whether people like it or not, Dear Esther IS a game. I know TotalBiscuit had a problem with this game and classed as NOT A GAME. A game is classified as a form of medium that you can interact with as entertainment. There is no way to measure a game in terms of button presses, length, replay-ability and some others. Just because a game like Dear Esther is incredibly linear and requires only a few keyboard presses that doesn't declassify it as a game. Super Mario has A to jump, B to Run and is about a linear as a the day to night cycle in real life. You can't define what a game isn't based on the points I mentioned above.
Hah found a muck up, pong does have sounds where the ball hits the boundaries and/or the paddles and there may be a sound when you win or when the score increases.