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Game Play impressions

I was going to start a Jelly site for Game Play impressions of games with screenshots and text and what not, But I didn’t want to make anything external to this blog, because no one would check it.

I’m never backing down on my belief that games need to be experienced to be understood, not watched. This was very evident in class as you could clearly hear the misconceptions of those who had never played FFXII versus those had glanced at it. In that example, the game mechanic of scripting and distributing AI to your party members and plowing through game fields areas is a radical step in gameplay. The essence of FFXII is tweaking your AI for your environment, the pleasure is in discovering the effects of simple rules you changed as you let them play out. This is not something you can watch and understand. To see it as another narrative driven RPG speaks only about its genre, and speaks nothing about the heart of its gameplay.

On the other hand, If Frank was suggesting that we should be learned enough to understand the larger structures at a glance, I think he’s definitely right. But I think of it this way: that we maybe, with experience, we can be learned enough to play a game somewhat briefly, and from that glance of a gameplay experience, we might be able to understand what the game design might be driving at. I wouldn’t bet on it, because a lot of games have a sort of progressive narrative of gameplay rules themselves that you can only understand by putting the time in. But a glance is still worth a glance.

Anyway, the next best thing to playing a game to me is to hear or read someone’s impressions of gameplay experience rather than to watch a video of the gameplay. So I’m hoping a bunch of us will be able to play, even briefly, some of the slamdance games and describe our experience in words.

How should we do it? Does that belong on this blog? Should all game impression write-ups be in the comments to this post ? Should they be individual posts , with comments being other people’s impressions on the same game? Should I set up a new site to meet this structure better? Let me know.


  1. Charles wrote:

    If we’re going to leave game impression, then I think that this is the place to do it, with comments being used for further discussion.

    Tuesday, January 30, 2007 at 4:56 am | Permalink
  2. frank wrote:

    Re. Watching vs. Playing…

    >>I’m never backing down on my belief that games need to be experienced to be understood, not watched.

    I agree with this whole-heartedly. In fact, for many games there is no way to really understand them without devoting a pretty big chunk of time to playing them. In these cases, even “hands-on” playtime will be insufficient if it’s just for 10 – 15 minutes, or perhaps even hours. In these cases, brief hands-on play is just as bad, and can be worse, as watching someone else demonstrate by playing…

    This was the somewhat convoluted point I was trying to make.

    These issues are some of the dilemmas of trying to become “game literate”.

    Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 5:15 am | Permalink
  3. Oren wrote:

    I agree with playing and watching, but sometimes you can just tell the game is going to suck from watching someone else play it and how much they are despising every moment of it. I also agree that just a few minutes of hands on time is not enough, think about reading the first page of a book and judging it completely on it. You need to at least get through a good chunk of it before you can put it down and say it just isnt good. I think we need to have a day where each of us can bring in a game with think has flown underneath the radar for everyone else, or even ones that just suprised us, and play them or trade them. Maybe we should just get a list of games people have that they are willing to lend out… I have quite a few if anyone is interested.

    Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 5:29 am | Permalink
  4. Kunal wrote:

    This is sort of an old thread — but i’m just saying that you’re not always judging a game for whether it’s Good or Bad, but you’re sometimes trying to examine and understand its game mechanic choices to help you understand your own. Which I think requires you to play and interact with the system. Maybe my point was from the point of view of a game mechanic designer in specific.

    Monday, February 5, 2007 at 6:39 pm | Permalink

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