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The Stupidest Word in Videogames

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The Stupidest Word in Videogames

Unread postby AtariKee » 15 May 2007 21:39

http://insomnia.ac/commentary/gameplay/

I agree that the word itself is vague. Ask some oldtimers from the 80s arcade heyday and they'll tell you it means "how the game plays, regardless of how it looks", mostly because they had so little power to work with, hardware and software-wise. These days, it's a total package, with graphics, storyline, mechanics, etc. Of course, I'm not saying anything new or profound here, but I just wanted to inject a little "oldtimer" view from what I gathered from talking to various golden age arcade game designers.

Personally, I think the most overused word in games these days is "Intellectual Property" or its insipid abbreviation, "IP". Gamasutra is notorious for completely and utterly overusing this word in its articles and interviews (why does every goddamn paragraph have to include it AT LEAST ONCE?!?!), and shows, in my opinion, how marketing types have totally watered down gaming into something akin to blenders, toasters, and Big Macs. That site is total shit.

An old Atari exec once said, "I could put shit in a bag and sell it!" Well, they did, and companies these days STILL DO!!! But I digress...
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Unread postby GnaM » 10 Jun 2007 05:35

Holy jesus I'm glad someone finally said it. Of course, I've always thought that this term was too vague and too much of a blanket term... but the true stupidity of it only dawned on me recently, when I started blogging on games regularly, and found I had to make a concerted effort to avoid using the words "game" and "gameplay" in the same sentence or it would read like it was written by a third-grader.

The fact that one of the two components is (supposedly) a crucial component of the other, yet you can't use them in the same sentence, shows how utterly flawed the language is. Terminology so closely related should fit together in sentences like a glove, not like oil and water.

Anyway, the general gaming populace really needs to be weened off this word. Not only does it encourage people to attempt passing broad generalizations off as deeply specific game design criticism, I've simply heard far too many gamers preaching "gameplay is better tahn grafx!!111" as if it's some kind of revelation...

As it is, in the past I've always tried to forgo the term in favor of more specific terminology, but now I'd just like to remove it from my vocabulary completely.
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sup icy

Unread postby kingpet » 20 Jun 2007 06:50

Well I think this article sums up the argument nicely:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gameplay

Though it looks like you had a hand in it :D

Anyways, gameplay does sorta sound silly. But truth be told, it IS an attribute NOT ENCOMPASSING the game experience as a whole. You might say "what?? playing the game isnt the ENTIRE purpose of experiencing the game?" you look at DOA XBV. I highly doubt ppl play that game for its "volleyball aspect". Hence in that case "gameplay" is more like "pixel watching".

Because a game encompass so many elements (graphics, music, control, plot, mechanics, etc.) saying that the game is good is overgeneralizing it. Therefore, someone has to name the actually playing experience something, which is acutally different from everything i named above. Wii sport games are a great example of great "gameplay" but decent graphics, boring music samples, good control (ill give you that), and nonexistant plot. Until someone can fill in that definition of "the experience of fun a person have of playing that game" without alluding too much to the other categories, we will call it "gameplay".
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Re: sup icy

Unread postby icycalm » 21 Jun 2007 16:34

Hi, welcome to the forum.

kingpet wrote:Well I think this article sums up the argument nicely.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gameplay

Though it looks like you had a hand in it :D


Heh, that's cool, but I didn't do it. As far as I am concerned editing Wikipedia articles is a waste of time.

kingpet wrote:Anyways, gameplay does sorta sound silly. But truth be told, it IS an attribute NOT ENCOMPASSING the game experience as a whole.


No sorry, you are wrong. In fact even cutscenes are part of a game's gameplay* -- the way the game plays -- if you sit down and think about it. The rest of your comments stem from this false statement so I won't bother answering them.


*lol

AtariKee wrote:These days, it's a total package, with graphics, storyline, mechanics, etc.


It has always been a total package...
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Unread postby filterpunk » 11 Jul 2007 03:54

The problem with a term like "gameplay" is that it's used to encompass too many different factors. You're stating that gameplay is interaction is play control.

Think about that for a second. Gameplay = Interaction = Play Control.

If you read a book, watch a movie, view a painting, or watch a cutscene, there's a level of interaction involved. Maybe a character goes through a difficult situation and you empathize or relate on some level, becoming more invested in their story. That's interaction - something is happening, you're reacting to it, then something else happens, you react to it... It might be passive, so play control isn't an issue, but it's still a form of interaction.

On the other hand, you might play a game with <i>phenomenal</i> play control, but insipid, stupid characters. The environments are bland, you hate everything about it <i>except</i> the control scheme.

You're using "gameplay" to describe multiple, distinct aspects of a game as if they're mutually exclusive and they're not.
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Unread postby icycalm » 20 Oct 2007 18:42

First off, I am resurrecting this thread to say that whoever does not agree with me on this issue lacks cleverness (I am trying to put it in a delicate manner).

Second, for lols:

http://forums.selectbutton.net/viewtopic.php?t=9588

Note the difference between icycalm (me) and icyclam (not me).
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Unread postby FrederikJurk » 20 Oct 2007 21:26

Ah yeah. I was about to ask about whether IcyCLAM was a mere typo or not. I mean, this guy even imitated your avatar.

Being parodied is the sweetest form of flattery, right?

And besides, I like it when people have a strong stance. Even people like Stuart Campbell, who swears and insults people at forums like shmups.com - he still writes interesting reviews and essays, and whether or not I agree with him, at least he gets noticed this way, and he shows he really CARES about certain subjects, unlike the whole "I am okay, you are okay" attitude, which might be fitting sometimes, but is kinda boring.
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Unread postby icycalm » 22 Oct 2007 16:24

Turns out icyclam was EOJ/TWE from Shmups! I had no idea he had a flair for parody -- that takes intelligence and I had mostly put him down as mildly retarded. Well, people often surprise us I guess.

They've moved that thread to the axe now and only people with accounts can see it. Plus, threads in the axe are automatically deleted when they are pushed back to the second page, so I guess this parody of my discussion tactics will be short-lived. What a shame!
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Unread postby FrederikJurk » 08 Nov 2007 01:10

What´s your avatar from, by the way?
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Unread postby Dale » 09 Nov 2007 04:12

It's from the manga "Berserk", it's the character Guts or Gatsu.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berserk_%2 ... Characters
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Unread postby FrederikJurk » 10 Nov 2007 12:28

Ah, okay.

Even better than just "gameplay" however is the term "CORE GAMEPLAY".
It's supposed to be more specific and sophisticated sounding, while adding absolutely nothing to the original term. It just adds wankery.
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Unread postby icycalm » 11 Nov 2007 02:03

On Berserk: best manga/anime I've read/watched yet (tied with Cowboy Bebop, perhaps), though I haven't really read/watched all that many.

On CORE GAMEPLAY: lol, indeed.
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Unread postby icycalm » 04 Dec 2008 05:14

I just stumbled on this:

"The Philosophy of Computer Games Conference in Potsdam May 8-10, 2008"

Curiosity piqued, I began skimming the "Abstracts" section, but stopped almost immediately, after seeing the title of the first essay on the list:

"The Magic Circle(s) of Gameplay"

I can't believe those people are still using this word!
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Unread postby EightEyes » 04 Dec 2008 05:40

I'm going to respectfully disagree just a little bit.

"Gameplay" is an almost completely useless, lazy word. When you say "gameplay" you almost always either:

a) actually mean something more specific, which is what you should say, or

b) actually aren't saying anything at all, in which case you should probably say nothing at all.

"Core gameplay", however, can be a useful shorthand for "the thing that the player does MOST OF THE TIME in the game". There's no "bookread" or "moviewatch" equivalent, because most books and films aren't nearly as repetitive as games are. Most games (even the best ones - perhaps *especially* the best ones) have a specific activity at their core that the player is asked to do repeatedly over the course of the game.

"Core gameplay" is the bit you've got to develop first, the bit you've really got to get right, the bit without which all the other stuff doesn't really matter. We could probably come up with a more elegant term for it, but I'd argue that the current label, while clumsy, does actually describe something specific and useful (at least to developers).
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Unread postby Recap » 04 Dec 2008 13:57

EightEyes wrote:We could probably come up with a more elegant term for it,


"Mechanics"; "core mechanics". That simple.
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Unread postby EightEyes » 05 Dec 2008 00:04

Recap wrote:"Mechanics"; "core mechanics". That simple.


That's not the same thing, though.

"Mechanics" is what the game does.

"Play" is what the player does.
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Unread postby Recap » 05 Dec 2008 00:46

"Play" is what the player does.

You got it right, I'd say. "Play" and not "gameplay".

Anyhow, "to play" = "to make proper usage of/put into practice a game's mechanics". Don't trouble yourself too much with this.
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Unread postby icycalm » 05 Dec 2008 01:18

I think the proof is in the practice. Since I wrote this article I've written several hundred pages on the subject of videogames, be they reviews or articles, and never even once felt the need to use the word gameplay or any derivative thereof. And besides, EightEyes himself admitted that 'core gameplay' is not exactly an elegant term, which should be reason enough not to use it.

Then compare the above with what people on, say, 1UP do, who throw the word gameplay around every other paragraph. Isn't THAT proof enough that it's useless?

For extra lols:

The Core Gameplay is the gameplay provided by the game itself.


http://www.moddb.com/tutorials/gameplay ... troduction

And this quote comes from A BOOK!

This text is part of my book"The Hows and Whys of Level Design". It includes the introduction of the Gameplay part as well as the floorplan section of the Multiplayer Gameplay chapter.
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Unread postby EightEyes » 05 Dec 2008 04:18

icycalm wrote:I think the proof is in the practice. Since I wrote this article I've written several hundred pages on the subject of videogames, be they reviews or articles, and never even once felt the need to use the word gameplay or any derivative thereof. And besides, EightEyes himself admitted that 'core gameplay' is not exactly an elegant term, which should be reason enough not to use it.

Then compare the above with what people on, say, 1UP do, who throw the word gameplay around every other paragraph. Isn't THAT proof enough that it's useless?


Agreed on all counts. All I was saying is that I think it's useful and meaningful to be able to refer to "this one thing that we're asking the player to do over and over again" while developing a game. Perhaps it's just "the core of the game".

For extra lols:

The Core Gameplay is the gameplay provided by the game itself.



Alright. That's just fucking stupid.

As an aside - I agree that it's a good idea to refrain from the word "gameplay" when discussing games, but it might be even more worthwhile to refrain from using the word while developing them. Many game design documents have a whole chapter with that title.
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Unread postby icycalm » 06 Dec 2008 03:44

Here's a great example of how a correct train of thought can be derailed simply by the use of a vague and useless word (emphasis is mine):

http://mikebbetts.wordpress.com/2008/08 ... ew-medium/

When a player opens a door and watches a cinematic revealing the final boss, she isn’t experiencing a story as a video game, she’s watching a movie. When a player opens a door and stops to read a computer printout before going inside to fight the final boss, she’s telling her own story as a function of the gameplay.


The author's line of reasoning degenerates to spastic-autistic nonsense in the bolded part. Here it is correctly re-written:

When a player opens a door and watches a cinematic revealing the final boss, she isn’t experiencing a story as a video game, she’s watching a movie. When a player opens a door and stops to read a computer printout before going inside to fight the final boss, she’s playing a game.


And notice how much easier and natural the contrast now becomes between the two bolded parts.


PS. The article linked to is generally worthless, by the way. "Videogame storytelling" is a contradictio in adjecto, and videogames are most certainly not a "medium"; they are simulation, which is an entirely different concept.
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Unread postby icycalm » 06 Dec 2008 03:49

Or, to put it another way, we could rewrite the first part of that passage (the one concerning movies) to come off just as spastic-autistic as the second one:

When a player opens a door and watches a cinematic revealing the final boss, she isn’t experiencing a story as a video game, she’s experiencing a narrative as a function of the moviewatch. When a player opens a door and stops to read a computer printout before going inside to fight the final boss, she’s telling her own story as a function of the gameplay.


You are still saying the same thing of course. It all just depends on how much of a moron you want to seem to your prospective readers.
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Unread postby Cpt. Coin-op » 07 Dec 2008 01:12

What I've always wondered is why/how the general public came to accept "gameplay" as an acceptable term, but not any of the other "moviewatch"-style bullshit.

Granted, I don't read very many movie "reviews" aside from Ebert (since he knows what he's talking about), but I don't see any other variations of that Newspeak popping up.

Why is there a term like that for video games and nothing else?
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Unread postby icycalm » 07 Dec 2008 01:27

I guess when cinematics began to appear back in the late 80's, or whenever it was that they first appeared, there arose a need to distinguish between the cinematic part of the game from the game proper. No one seems to have been smart enough to figure out that such a distinction was unnecessary (and would eventually prove to be seriously misleading), so somebody coined the term 'gameplay' and it stuck.

This is unfortunately how languages are developed. That's why we have so many redundant, useless and/or misleading words, the continued use of which ensures that the deeper, more nuanced theoretical arguments will always remain far from the grasp of everyday people. See also: the Tractatus.
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Unread postby EightEyes » 08 Dec 2008 01:25

icycalm wrote:I guess when cinematics began to appear back in the late 80's, or whenever it was that they first appeared, there arose a need to distinguish between the cinematic part of the game from the game proper.


That sounds right to me. Videogame reviews were often broken up into "Graphics", "Sound", "Gameplay", and sometimes even "Presentation" or "Value". A lot of publications used to score those sections individually. Some still do!

I would personally find it tricky enough to stick a rating on a game as a whole. Goodness only knows how you play a game and decide that it has great "graphics", poor "presentation" and mediocre "gameplay". I'm not sure who that's supposed to help, either.

I guess it's tied to a perceived need to differentiate between "what the game looks/sounds like" and "what the player does in the game".

The bits of information I'm trying to get from a review are really just:

1. Is the game interesting?
2. Is the game sound?

That's actually pretty much it. There's certainly a difference between an interesting game that's been poorly executed and a highly proficient but completely uninteresting game. Neither is likely to be enjoyable, but the first might be instructive.

That's about the only breakdown I'd want in a review. You can stick your "fun factor" up your arse, reviewers :)
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Unread postby BlackerOmegalon » 12 Dec 2008 09:18

I was wondering, do they have an equivalent to the word "gameplay" in Japan?
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