Video games have changed a lot in the last thirty years, and with this change have come technological advancements that widened the scope of what they’re capable of, as well as changes in front of and behind the screen that led people to think differently about what they could say. The argument of video games as an art form is nothing new, but to get these artistic messages across, do they still have to do so in a fun way?
The obvious answer is that they must be fun – that’s why people play games and a game that doesn’t allow you to do that is simply failing in its objective. However, the waters become muddied by factors such as intent, themes, and message.
Playing For The Fun
Many people who play games specifically to have fun, will seek out titles that fit that bill, and these might be games that have less of a focus on the story. They might stay away from more linear, narrative experiences, such as The Last of Us, or Uncharted, and might instead focus on mechanic-focused games. This might include games from the rogue-like genre, where you can play and finish the game in about an hour, but the overall completion depends on finishing these randomised runs several times. This might also be what draws certain people to the games that you can find through online casinos au, as they offer immediate and easy-to-understand gameplay loops that can entertain you for short periods. In these cases, if the game isn’t fun, what’s the point?
Negative Emotions As A Device
However, should fun, or enjoyment, be the only emotion that a game evokes from you? Of course, certain story beats might make you feel sad or disinterested, but in the moment-to-moment gameplay, is there room for negative emotions? Games like Dark Souls aim to create oppressive situations so that the moments of triumph among them create genuine satisfaction and elation, pushing you forward. Similarly, games that have more of an overt focus on the story might aim to create segments that are especially repetitive or removed from the main gameplay loop, and it could be argued that this is to create less of a barrier between player and character, though doing that at the cost of enjoyment is a matter the player has to weigh internally.
A Curated Experience
To complicate matters further, some games aren’t as interested in providing a playground for the player to explore mechanics and are instead looking to specifically say something. One example of this is 2016’s indie title, Inside, which received rave reviews even though the gameplay itself is somewhat limited. The overwhelming focus of this game is on the tone, message, and emotions that are evoked from the player, and while many reviewers agreed that they are areas the game may succeed in, does that make it fun? Did it ever try to be fun? You could argue the fun comes from the enjoyment of the overall experience; in which case, the question is more about the subjectivity of fun rather than its required place within the video game medium.