Like art, games have evolved over various movements. Because of this, a variety of games genres have bloomed. All games share the common traits that there are constraints or rules for which all players have reached a consensus on, a consequence, negative or positive, a goal to reach, obstacles which will obstruct the player in reaching the goal, and resources for overcoming those obstacles (Pearce, 69). It is interesting to see how these various games have evolved in the context of the societal changes.
Spacewars was known as one of the first computer games made. It enjoyed a large success among its players due to the classic competitive drive it induces in its players. The general premise of the game lies within the fact players are able to shoot at other players to reduce the opponent’s score. Players are also given various weapons such as torpedos, missiles, and a limited amount of fuel. A theory that may have attributed to its success is that it follows the basic framework of what defines a game closely. The objective of the game is to shoot down the other opponents and avoid the various obstacles in space. Resources are limited to the weapons you may use and a limited supply of fuel that can run out. The game itself presents several obstacles, such as blackholes, which would further stand in the way of having a smooth experience in shooting down the other player. There is also a primitive scoring system where players would gain points in shooting down other players and losing points for being killed off (Brand). What is interesting is that players are able to gauge their opponents personalities by predicting their movements though the game space. This strategy is similar to chess, as one player can predict future moves of the opponent based on their past moves.
As a reference as to how games have evolved in tandem with the waves of societal change, The New Game movement came into the scene as way to examine the essence of human interaction through gameplay. In a time of tense political atmospheres, Steward Brand created games which required collaboration between team members and interactions with each other. The game “Rock Paper Scissor Tag” exemplifies a game in the New Game movement. Players are divided into two teams. The players in each team consult to decide on which move they should use in the Rock, Paper, Scissors game. Then, the two teams face each other and play a single round of “Rock, Paper, Scissors”. The winners will then chase the losers and tag them before the losers reach their home base. The tagged members will then convert over to the winners team and the game will start over again. In essence, the game can go on forever until one team has converted all of the team members. Because of the interesting fact that players can switch teams, there are no strong allegiance to a team, rather than playing the game for what it is. This particular game manages to take out the aspect that a single player can win. There is no personal goal to win while the main obstacles lie in the chance of fate and how fast one can run. Rather, it is more of a team effort and the main focus is on the fun of playing the game,a combination of the anticipation of the 50/50 win of the game “Rock, Paper, Scissors” and adrenaline rush of chasing after other players . After all, games are meant to be an activity that is enjoyed.
An interesting example of how art ties in with games involves the how the Fluxus movement featured games. The main idea behind this art movement is taking existing media and organizing them differently to create something new. Because the time period of this art movement is trademarked with political climate change, many use existing games as a political statement. A notable example of this is Yoko Ono’s White Chess set, where all of the pieces are painted white. It portrays a strong message of peace in a wartime era, promoting the essence that there are no differences in two opposing teams. Ono’s chess set takes away the main purpose of the game which is to defeat the opponent. With the goal taken away, this is seem more of as a static art piece than a game. The lines between obstacles are blurred as the players have no way of telling an enemy from a fellow piece. Because of this, Ono’s white chess set defeats the purpose of playing the game. It may be that in this context, the act of gameplay is seen as conflict and her main goal was to erase that conflict and the lines that separate the player between the opponent.
Brand, Stewart. “SPACEWAR: Fanatic Life and Symbolic Death Among the Computer Bums,” Rolling Stone, December 7, 2001.
Fron, J., Fullerton, T., Morie, J. & Pearce, C. (aka Ludica) (2005). “Sustainable Play: Towards A New Games Movement for the Digital Age.” Digital Arts & Culture Conference Proceedings, Copenhagen, December 2005.
Pearce, Celia. “Games as Art: The Aesthetics of Interactivity.” Visible Language: Special Issue on Fluxus. January 2006.