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VenusInFurs avatar 10:17 PM on 06.15.2011  (server time)
Do games have to be fun?

Do games have to be fun? Well, in my opinion they do. But there are some individuals that disagree with this opinion. Sometime it’s best to agree to disagree, but I still fail to see how an individual can enjoy gaming without it being fun.

I always bring my Ukulele with me to school; I sit in the back of the empty lounge area and quietly play some songs. This morning I was playing Kraid’s Theme, which I just learned the night before, and sat there, me with my brown Ukulele picking the strings to the simple, yet amazing, 8-bit song. The lounge area is pretty big and it was about 10:00 AM. I was sitting on a couch facing a window looking down on the beautiful city that is New York. The sun seemed to be my only source of light because the lounge area for some reason was devoid of any. I was lazily plucking the strings to the song when a classmate of mine, who had hair very reminiscent to what Bob Dylan had in the mid 60’s, went up to me to start a conversation. He said, “Wow, I wish I knew how to play that song. Metroid is one of my favorite franchises, but the original game hasn’t aged well at all.” I nod my head in agreement and he sat down next to me. He started to talk about our class assignment, but quickly went back to the topic of games.

As he started to talk, I crossed my leg and started to gently play After Hours by the Velvet Underground. He started to spit out some of his favorite games to see if I’ve played them:

“Have you played Person 4?”

“Yeah, I’m currently playing it at the moment.”

“Uhh, have you played Flower?”

“Yup, I enjoyed a great deal.”

“Have you played Limbo?”

“Yeah, that game is boring as hell.”

This, my friends, is how the topic in hand started.

My second blog for Destructoid was about Limbo; a game that disappointed me, but apparently didn’t disappoint the Destructoid community. Limbo, for me, was a boring, pretentious mess of a game. I told him this and he shook his head looking down at the ground in disagreement and said, “Games are not all about fun.” Now, I don’t know this man very well, but I do see how animated he is in our Literature class and I have agreed with many of his points, but this was the first time, in the first 2 weeks of summer class, which I’ve strongly disagreed with his opinion. I also didn't notice until a few minutes of him talking that I stopped playing. I put my instrument down next to my bag and started my reply.

“Game are about fun, dude. That’s the whole point,” I said. He started to ramble about games being art and asked who my favorite film director is. “Gaspar Noé is my favorite director” I responded. He then let out an elongated “oooooooh” and said, “Well, do you enjoy his films?” “Yes, of course I do” I responded. “His films are not films you watch every day, right?” he said. This is when I realized what he was doing, and for a moment I had to stop to think about my response. It’s true that the films by Gaspar Noé are graphic in subject matter; I do enjoy them in an intellectual and visual sense, but they are not films I would say I enjoyed -- his films are too dark and twisted to be enjoyed. I told him this and he said that games are the same. He also added that games should have more than just one emotion.

This is where he stopped me on my tracks. He said, “If we gamers believe that games are an art form then we have to believe that not all games have to be fun, right?” I honestly never thought about it this way. I do believe that games are an art form, but if they’re not fun then what’s the point of playing? But I wouldn’t say I had fun watching Irreversible or Requiem for A Dream… I’m confused. I've enjoyed them but didn't find them fun -- are they even the same? What is fun? Isn't this all subjective?

Anyway, he wanted to know how I can like a game like Flower but hate Limbo. I told him that Flower, while simple in design, was a fun and emotional experience -- we both agreed on that, but quickly disagreed when I said that Limbo was slow, boring, and had bad level design. He went on about the atmosphere, in which I responded that the immersion left me after the first 15 minutes of the game. I said, “Limbo seemed like it was unfinished.” He then laughed at the comment and said I was crazy.

Growing up I never thought about games this way. Yes, I truly believe they are an art form, but in my opinion they have to be fun. I had fun playing Braid, another art game, but I didn’t have any fun out of Limbo because the puzzles and gameplay seemed uninspired. Whatever the reason, I would have never thought that I would have a discussion about this topic in life. Wow, look how far this medium has gone.

As our geeky conversation was getting heated up, we realized that class was about to start. We agreed to disagree and headed off to class. After class he said he would introduce me to some PC games and 360 game where “fun” isn’t really essential. I only remember two games he mentioned: Nier and Silent Hill 4: The Room. Both games I never played.

I still believe that games must be fun to be enjoyed. Why would I waste time and money to play something I don’t enjoy? But his argument using films does seem to make some sense. Ugh, it seems this blog went to the dreaded discussion about games being art.

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