Saturday, August 06, 2011

Criticism of Philosophical Game Design

Mike Gamm writes in New Age Socialities

"As you have heard me say before, I really disagree with Lars Konzack and the idea that most players prefer philosophical game design above all other aspects of gaming (). I believe that the multiplayer component is going to be the largest part of gaming in the years to come; in fact I have noticed small but important trends that show significant changes in the way we are gaming."

and later ...

"Even in our gaming class we were unable to show a significant influence from the all powerful philosophical gameplay and design that Konzack ranted about in the VGTR2."

As part of my response, I want to stress that criticism is a good thing - especially constructive criticism of course. Without criticism we would not develop our ideas. However, I would like to point to a few problems with this criticism in particular.

First of all, I want to be clear on the fact that I have never said that most players prefer philosophical game design above all other aspects of gaming.

I do think multiplayer components are developing. And I do not think that every design aspect in the game industry is about philosophical game design.

What makes philosophical game design interesting is that it is a way to put content into the game. This can be done with multiplayer games too. If we for a moment think of games like Warcraft and Starcraft each of the opposing armies have their own combat philosophy build into the game structure based on the game design. They each represent another way of dealing with technology and how they battle to win. This is expressed thorugh the game mechanics and embedded into the game for the players to experience. Having different races in e.g. WoW is another way to express different philosophies in a multiplayer game.

The philosophical content is not in conflict with social gaming. Philosphical game design is not anti-multiplayer. It is just another way to approach the design of games, focusing on ideas and concepts rather than small features. This does not mean there is no room for features, but each feature is designed to express the philospohy or the philosophies of the game. And in that sense the philosophy of the game is an overall game design strategy and above all the single features of the game.

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