What About “About”?

I used to say things like:

What interests me most about video games are the stories. I love the unique blend of interaction, characters and worlds.

But then some people who wrote some things somewhere said that games can’t tell stories because it’s not a linear medium, or something like that. They would say, “It’s literally impossible!” The English Language made it so, apparently.

I can’t really blame the English mavens though because, really, the word “story” has caused communication issues between myself and non-English mavens. They often think I’m referring to a game’s cutscenes. Pshaw!

But I don’t want to fight over words – I mean, seriously, words! – I just want to connect one brain to another. So I’m going to put away “story” for a bit and try a different neural path.

(And here it is.)

What about “about”?

(The owl hoots.)

What interests me most about video games are what they are about. I love the unique blend of interaction, characters and worlds.

I will first break “about” down into smaller chunks and then rebuild it again, hopefully to make the idea all the more clear.

All the components that are a part of a game all combined together are what the game is about.

Visual, aural and physical feedback components all contribute to about. If there are olfactory components then they contribute to about, too. Whatever is in there is a part of what the game is about.

Within these components the various expressions can be about more than just light, sound, smell, and so on.

The architecture within a city implicitly (big word!) tells us about its creators and citizens, a confession tells us about what someone did, and the stench in a house tells us about the dead body in the bathroom. Imagine that! You can reckon to your heart’s content about what all the expressions tell us. Let your imagination soar!

What the player does also contributes to about.

This point is very important when discussing video games. If the player is constantly running, jumping and smashing bricks with his or her head, that is also what the game is about.

Putting all three back together in a neat little package we get:

A video game is about all the things expressed within the game, including the expressions initiated by the player.

This is what I have been talking about all these years when I used the word “story”. Are we connected now? I have some important matters to discuss…

2 thoughts on “What About “About”?

  1. Some of my favourite games have been ABOUT the risks, rewards, and losses stemming from my decisions, which (although mechanical) formulated the best drama I’ve experienced in the medium.

    Some of my not-so-favourite ones have been about running headlong against each wall hammering the interact button in hopes of picking up glinty things. But I guess there were words and cinematics in there?

    • I could give a proper reply to you but then I’d lose my precious material for subsequent blogs! (My ideas are a limited resource.)
      But I REALLY appreciate the comment. One comment could lead to another which could lead to another and turn into something like a conversation.

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