videogames r ppl too

there’s this idea that floats around that’s like, “board games let you modify them and use the pieces for whatever you want, so why not videogames?” in a demand for videogames to close that gap through one mechanism or another, usually framing videogames as totalitarian and corporate in contrast to the democratic board game.

and i think this perspective is a little misconceived, it’s kind of a false equivalency. after all, videogames are just making games with computers. games and playing are just a thing humans do! we’re making little games all the time in daily life, and sometimes we make these big structured and luxurious things called board games, and sometimes we utilize these highly rigid things called computers to make even more structured and luxurious games.

but really, the nugget here is, the fault is seeing the videogame content as equivalent to board game pieces, when instead it is the computer that is the board game pieces. and you can do whatever you want with your computer. that is the material instrument whose behaviours you rearrange to form a game. the purpose here isnt pedantry, but to divorce videogames from being this universal constant and instead embracing their material existence as a set of rules produced through a computer.

there is, in the end, very little functional difference (except in specialization required) between level editing, high-level modding and coding a game from scratch. even in game development, the lines blur incredibly heavily with all the intermixing of libraries and intermediate tools and compilers and things like that. it’s all a big soup. while the demand to ease the specialization required to make computer games is reasonable and earnest, computers are fundamentally specialized equipment. how complicated they are is a fundamental exchange for how much they can go.

rather, i think a certain amount of this argument comes from an internalization of technological supremacy, that computer games are the hotness now and nothing else matters. in reality that’s the furthest from the truth. play and games are fundamental to human existence, not a product category to be innovated upon, and even if it were board gaming is bigger and more alive than ever–in part thanks to computers helping connect communities of people who love board gaming, and that will never go away because of the innate aspects of board gaming. (such as the socialness, or the physicality, or the ease of entry!)

so hey, yeah, they’re two different things. there doesn’t need to be a give and take between the two, there isn’t. computers are the game pieces, not the code. while it is tragic specialization can be so disheartening, every bit you invest in learning will be rewarded tenfold, and it will always be that way. and you can do it. or you can just make board games! it’s all great, really. there are more people than ever out there eager to help you learn to make videogames, just like there are more avenues than ever to get your board game produced or distributed. both can be easily distributed online at places like itch.io, an incredibly welcoming environment for beginners which already hosts a number of print and play board games. it’s not like you have to consign yourself to one or the other, i don’t! games are games are games. just do the thing and before you know it you’ll come out on top. this is suddenly an inspirational pep talk and i’m phil from hercules

hercules-and-phil1

bye!

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