Stated Goals! (2014 edition)

Long, long ago, in the misty distance of 2012, I wrote a blog post called Stated Goals! based on blog posts by other people (Anna Anthropy and Gregory Weir) in which I reviewed the ostensible goals of the games I had made until then. I had intended to do it every year from then on, but, well, I haven’t. So now I’m going to catch up with a new Stated Goals! Let’s state some goals! (Well, I’ll state the goals and you just read them, okay?) State on!

Make art.

Walk right.

Die.

Gather secret information and evade/kill security guards.

Climb stairs.

Garden.

Be a fish.

Play Snake with physical controls.

Visit the Marina Abramovic Institute.

Deal with your nature as a jostler.

Deal with turning into a fly.

Fight with your dick.

Type a word.

Go on a speed date.

Write a novella.

Exercise.

Surveil a house.

Navigate a maze.

Run right.

Play a slot machine.

Be in a jail cell.

Play in a band.

Don’t drown.

Reach the top of the leaderboard.

Get a mint into a surgical cavity.

Get X, Avoid Y.

Count grains of rice and sesame seeds.

Hold your breath.

Look at colours.

Step on the ground.

Complain to a tree.

Manifest your desires.

Phew. Okay, so that was quite long, especially since a few of my games have been packets of games since the last time I did this. So we have 32 different goals here to look at. And the next thing I’m meant to do is reflect on what these goals say about my games and what I’ve been doing with them.

First and foremost, I hope we can agree that there is diversity represented here, which is important to me. It seems to me that there are a lot of weird and different goals involved in these games, from making art to “dying” to complaining to a tree. That’s a positive.

Now, let’s take violence, because I don’t like it and I don’t want it in my games. Nonetheless, there are two combative goals in this list (kill security guards, and fight with your dick). The “kill security guards” element of Spy Parity is something I’m only now realising that I regret, because it didn’t need to be there. It was in there because it seems “spy like” to have a gun, and because I liked the idea that you could end up shooting yourself, but that’s not actually very interesting. The one key moment you confront yourself in that game, in the long hallway in the centre, would have been even better if you couldn’t shoot or act. So there, this was worth it already. The “fight with your dick” goal is okay, I think, because it was, at least in part, meant to function as a critique/parody of how stupid violence in games often is.

Most of the time I’d suggest that the game goal is a relatively good summary of the entire game (not always, but mostly). This makes sense as it just reflects the simplicity I both aim for in the service of conceptual clarity and have to aim for in the shadow of personal limitations. I’m interested in the fact that these very blunt one-liners do capture the essence not just of part of these games, but basically the whole thing. I’m also intrigued by how the Abramovic Method Games integrate into this feature quite well. Those simple exercises, essentially for meditation, fit right in. Probably says something.

Funny to me that two of the goals are also the titles of the games themselves (Don’t Drown and Get X, Avoid Y – not counting the Abramovic Method Games as I didn’t title those). I do like that this is the ultimate in simplicity/bluntness. It also meant in both those games that the title screen was able to be the opening game screen at the same time, which is something I like in a game now and then.

Creative expression was definitely a feature in here again, with “make art”, “write a novella”, and “play in a band”. All of those games give the player pretty much a free hand in deciding how they want to take the “gameplay” and what they want to do with it.

Let’s be honest, there’s probably a bunch of other stuff I could pull out, but this is palling for me, so it probably palled for you about 600 words ago. At the very least, you and I can consider this year’s (and last year’s) Stated Goals! to be completed. Here’s hoping I remember in 2015 so we don’t have another megamix in 2016.

29 October 2014
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