Games Don’t Always Have to Be Fun

Abandoned Roller Coaster“Videogame,” as a descriptor, is a bit problematic. It’s a compound of two words that, apart, don’t do a whole lot to encapsulate the medium. When smashed together they do even less to sum up the wide range of experiences that playing videogames can offer. In some ways none of this matters: a catch-all term is easy enough to ignore in most cases and only really shows its shortcomings when the boundaries of the medium it’s used to describe start to expand.

Unfortunately this is exactly what is happening with “videogame,” a word with a definition so vague that those who interpret it a certain way (games, from Tag to Monopoly to Halo are meant to be, above all else, fun) take issue with titles that don’t feel the need to offer a traditionally enjoyable experience. People who believe that videogames must always be fun haven’t had many reasons to question their vision of the medium until recent years. Now the rising influence of indie developers has begun to alter mainstream titles in significant ways. This process will continue to broaden the established definition of videogames to such a degree that the importance of fun as the ultimate goal of creation can be called into question.

That long introduction is all to say, basically, that playing Naughty Dog’s post-apocalyptathon, The Last of Us, made me wonder what, exactly, I want from a game.

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