This is a reflection on K. Salen and E. Zimmerman’s, selections from Rules of Play: “Defining Play” and “Defining Games”.
As an interaction designer, while I read this part of the book, the one thing that surprisingly was most interesting to me was how the authors spoke of the game setup. The setup is so important! We are always involved with the rules, the gameplay, what makes it fun, but the setup, is the first thing that the user or the gamer sees, that would get them salivating! It’s also important to understand that rules are not the WHAT, but the WHY and HOW in direct co-relation either to enhance the experience for the player or any of the top two criteria set for the game. The setup itself could be the one defining factor to differentiate play and game.
Rules are merely means for creating play.
I completely disagree with the authors in all their mentions of taking the words of ‘play’ and ‘game’ literally and drawing parallels or analogy of any sort. That makes no sense and takes away from the debate and discussion of defining play or game. Focussing on literal meaning is only limited to one language, whereas the concept of play and game still remains the same concept or phenomenon, no matter what language the user or designer speaks. Words of play and games do not hold the similar meaning or context in various languages.While the authors are exploring these definitions from many thinkers and designers, I want to point out that one thing stands strikingly to me and that is the essence of what the purpose is. Why do we play? Because of we want to have fun? explore? pass time? Why do players in a tournament engage in a game? for money? for country? And therefore, I want to re-draw the term of interaction, engagement and play with that of the authors. The purpose is what ignites the idea of emergence. In the same thread, I also disagree with the authors’ defining ‘play’ as a component of ‘game’. Why stretch out the obvious? If one does not ‘play’ a game, be it within a strict rule framework or not, what else does one do in a game?
In many ways we see play, the idea of emergence is what is fascinating.