Topic: non-spatial games (Read 737 times)

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A lot of stuff I've looked at recently about games has emphasized production of space in the way games are constructed. I've found that it's a pretty useful lens for thinking about most of the software games I've played in the past. It's of course true that game space doesn't exist - it's a bunch of pixels and sounds and things organised by a program and interpreted by the player. To a certain extent, space seems to be about the way we interpret our interactions with the terminal in relation to the things we encounter in the rest of our lives that we call spaces. This stuff is, of course, also just a bunch of particle interactions. We interpret it too. I'm not saying anything particularly profound here. Heaps of people have said the same thing before. I'm just setting the scene for a question I want to raise for y'all. It is:


How do you make a software game that resists or evades spatial interpretation?


In other words, how do you make a game that's hard to see as taking place in a particular space, exploring the mechanics of a particular space, or a relationship to that space? I feel like it's easy to put spatial analogies onto most things, and to make interactions about some hypothetical space. Does this make software games fundamentally spatial? I feel like that shouldn't be the case, but I'm having trouble refuting myself.
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mathematical quiz game is the only way
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Rendering a view port or showing what the current state of a game is (i.e. the pieces on a chess board) is important for players to actually remember the state of a game. Without a view port you'd need to store game parameters in your own memory unless you represent the game as a linear list. I guess a list of options is, in itself a world space of options in one dimension.
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Its depends on exactly what you mean. Technically, making a game outside of any sort of space is impossible. Literally just having a variable means you now are in a space of some sort. It might be 1 dimensional, but its still space.

Though you bring up 'interpretation' so I guess it could be possible to make things seems like the game takes up no space what so ever. but it'd be a pretty boring game. I'm kind of with dad here, It'd probably have to be a simple game of numbers, like a math quiz game, or maybe a game of chance.
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The way I see it, games mirror our own interpretations of reality.

So by that reasoning, all games involve spatial reasoning. It all depends on the context in which you can define space. I do not think this is limited to software games, since it is a fundamental aspect of any kind of game whatsoever.

Although I am very interested in being proven wrong, anyone that provides an example of any game that is entirely separated from any sort spatial reasoning, I am going to respond by trying to note at least one element of that game that can be interpreted as some kind of game-space that is explored in playing that game. (It goes back to what defines it as a game, which I believe ties it fundamentally to some spatial aspect. In that the only way to make it entirely separate is to remove the very thing that qualifies it as a game in the first place.)

For instance, providing a number as a solution to a mathematical quiz game is an exploration of a 1-dimensional game space. By exploring the interaction of those numbers, you provide an answer to the game from the number line (the 1d space). The game in turn responds with a binary result that's space is interpreted by you as "getting it right" or "getting it wrong".
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maybe the Warioware franchise? or dys4ia. vidiot game. what linus bruckman sees when his eyes are closed. obviously i'm not being especially rigorous (or remotely rigourous (i dont know how to spell rigourus :o ( )) since all of these play with space a lot and depending on how purist / facetious u wanna get you could treat them all as sort of compilations of smaller spatial games within an overriding structure that changes their context BUT i think the latter comment could be directed at nearly anything and that this is in fact key to the issue.
i sorta hazily think that the spatial affect generated by games is a result of juxtaposing different contrasting systems to provide a sense of "perspective" that maps well to spatial thinking. the dudes in a landscape painting are not midgit, they're just enclosed by and contained within something else that provides a different context to what they are (paint blob) and what they represent, and this in turn reinforces the sense of what the containing context is. (obviously this stuff is all more spongy and permeable than i'm making it sound, idk why i brought up visual art since i know nothing about it). famous sense of gameworld which exists seperate to the player is potentially result of a hierarchial set of systems, mechanical or otherwise, which provide sense of scale, limit, overriding context necessary to imagine that what's happening onscreen is some sort of kinetic action. games like warioware are kind of roughly non-hierarchial and flat, they consist of a sort of network of atomised, self-contained mechanical bits that don't really touch at all. it's not tuff to extrapolate a world from a spatial game about a hippo blowing bubbles, it's more difficult when the hippo game is next to one about dodging abstract polygon beams without some kind of context authorial or otherwise to tell you that one of these is More Important or higher up on the chain of representation so that one can be viewed as contingent upon the other. i never finished Linus Bruckman but i remember it being a kind of weird, weightless experience partly because of the two symmetric fictions both seemed equally trivial. You couldn't take one as being a comment on the other and the similar but distinct little worlds seemed to cancel each other out. where does dys4ia take place? where does vidiot game take place?
 
one game i meant to write about before my critical senses melted into slop was vasily zotov's Space Spy. i haven't played it in quite a while but i remember being impressed at how some of the bizarre interface and fragmented gameplay kind of broke down the usual sense of some kind of mimetic / diegetic split (dont know what these words mean, i puked on the library book halfway through) between what's actually happening and all the abstracted systematic representations meant to provide contextual info. there are little FBI guys staring angrily at you in the corner of the screen but they'll also stare at your dude as he drives around in a tiny truck and he'll die if he runs into them. its tough to sort them into either Real game elements or Representational interface gauges and as a result there's a kind of bizarre, empty feeling to the whole thing. all these different systems of representation aren't layered to suggest a world so much as just brutally mashed together, each running along a different set of rules and expectations.
 
obviously i'm just barfing but i do think that if you're looking for games which resist in some way spatial interpretation then it could be easier and more interesting to look at collections of different isolated systems grinding against each other and resisting broader spatial perspective in this way than by looking for something so brutally technical as to resist any kind of imaginary mapping to a gamespace.
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go make yourself only an idea, then ask this question again
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Rendering a view port or showing what the current state of a game is (i.e. the pieces on a chess board) is important for players to actually remember the state of a game. Without a view port you'd need to store game parameters in your own memory unless you represent the game as a linear list. I guess a list of options is, in itself a world space of options in one dimension.
therefore pen and paper roleplaying games and text adventures do not exist. Q.E.D.
Its depends on exactly what you mean. Technically, making a game outside of any sort of space is impossible. Literally just having a variable means you now are in a space of some sort. It might be 1 dimensional, but its still space.

Though you bring up 'interpretation' so I guess it could be possible to make things seems like the game takes up no space what so ever. but it'd be a pretty boring game. I'm kind of with dad here, It'd probably have to be a simple game of numbers, like a math quiz game, or maybe a game of chance.
I don't mean in the mathematical sense one can define a mapping, no. If I wanted to answer that question, I would attempt to generate the noisiest possible noise generation source code and be done with it.
maybe the Warioware franchise? or dys4ia. vidiot game. what linus bruckman sees when his eyes are closed. obviously i'm not being especially rigorous (or remotely rigourous (i dont know how to spell rigourus :o ( )) since all of these play with space a lot and depending on how purist / facetious u wanna get you could treat them all as sort of compilations of smaller spatial games within an overriding structure that changes their context BUT i think the latter comment could be directed at nearly anything and that this is in fact key to the issue.
i sorta hazily think that the spatial affect generated by games is a result of juxtaposing different contrasting systems to provide a sense of "perspective" that maps well to spatial thinking. the dudes in a landscape painting are not midgit, they're just enclosed by and contained within something else that provides a different context to what they are (paint blob) and what they represent, and this in turn reinforces the sense of what the containing context is. (obviously this stuff is all more spongy and permeable than i'm making it sound, idk why i brought up visual art since i know nothing about it). famous sense of gameworld which exists seperate to the player is potentially result of a hierarchial set of systems, mechanical or otherwise, which provide sense of scale, limit, overriding context necessary to imagine that what's happening onscreen is some sort of kinetic action. games like warioware are kind of roughly non-hierarchial and flat, they consist of a sort of network of atomised, self-contained mechanical bits that don't really touch at all. it's not tuff to extrapolate a world from a spatial game about a hippo blowing bubbles, it's more difficult when the hippo game is next to one about dodging abstract polygon beams without some kind of context authorial or otherwise to tell you that one of these is More Important or higher up on the chain of representation so that one can be viewed as contingent upon the other. i never finished Linus Bruckman but i remember it being a kind of weird, weightless experience partly because of the two symmetric fictions both seemed equally trivial. You couldn't take one as being a comment on the other and the similar but distinct little worlds seemed to cancel each other out. where does dys4ia take place? where does vidiot game take place?
 
one game i meant to write about before my critical senses melted into slop was vasily zotov's Space Spy. i haven't played it in quite a while but i remember being impressed at how some of the bizarre interface and fragmented gameplay kind of broke down the usual sense of some kind of mimetic / diegetic split (dont know what these words mean, i puked on the library book halfway through) between what's actually happening and all the abstracted systematic representations meant to provide contextual info. there are little FBI guys staring angrily at you in the corner of the screen but they'll also stare at your dude as he drives around in a tiny truck and he'll die if he runs into them. its tough to sort them into either Real game elements or Representational interface gauges and as a result there's a kind of bizarre, empty feeling to the whole thing. all these different systems of representation aren't layered to suggest a world so much as just brutally mashed together, each running along a different set of rules and expectations.
 
obviously i'm just barfing but i do think that if you're looking for games which resist in some way spatial interpretation then it could be easier and more interesting to look at collections of different isolated systems grinding against each other and resisting broader spatial perspective in this way than by looking for something so brutally technical as to resist any kind of imaginary mapping to a gamespace.
right, so WarioWare is a good starting point because the game itself is sort of played across the minigames and while the minigames have the appearance of space, the game is played across them rather than in them. i.e. you're aware that someone has space in warioware, and sometimes you see bits of it, but the game isn't focalised through a spatial acrot or from a spatial perspective. Dance Dance Revolution almost does this, but space still shows up, just not on screen. people's limbs and their placement become hugely important, especially when you're playing in the arcade. "do I look weird?" "who's standing behind me?" i could progress to talk about guitar hero here but I hate rhythm games so I'm not going to. space spy, i think from looking at the video of it, is spatially terrifying. i don't know if it's resisting space so much as wielding it at my senses. among other game elements. i guess the terror it embeds in spatial interactions could be seen as a resistance to space.

i think that your analysis of how space works in games is good. containment, limiting and permeability definitely seem to be parts of how space works, and combination of spacial logics definitely has the ability to jar one's sense of spatial situation. unfortunately I am going to have to bring up a formal thing because your combination of similar but distinct worlds reminded me of a paper that influenced how i see games. (http://www.gamestudies.org/0501/gruenvogel/) so I haven't looked at this paper in a while, but the important thing I got out of it is that games can be seen as combinations of other games by layering logics. I also think that games can be combined in serial by linking states of one to jump into states of another. i was going to do this formally in a slightly different model i built myself (partly because i'm not that comfortable with group theoretic terms) but I never got around to finishing it. point being that each sub game could be seen as a spatial logic of some kind. or, we think that it would be spatial. most of the game logics we know of are spatial except menus and things. but maybe if we worked in non-spatial logics to start with, we might be less likely to make a spatial game. it would probably have lots of spaces in it because people are fantastic at seeing space in things, but it might resist space better than other current games. assuming that's something we want to do.

on a completely unrelated note, I have an idea of a less-spatial game that has nothing to do with my silly formalisms whatsoever. the play would be like a classic text adventure. the only difference would be that you wouldn't be the heroine or hero of the game, or even an actor in the story. instead, it would take the kind of perspective you might get in a particular sort of Borges story (e.g. the one about the big map or the lottery of babylon). you see a long history belonging to a state or some person from a very 'zoomed out' perspective. you find out what happened, but not by doing it. the story is told as if the narrator is trying to remember it. actually, you're both trying to remember it. two old men. and based on what you remember or think you remember, the story takes a different shape. there's spaces, sure, you might imagine you sit in one, and there's the mathematical "space of stories', but the play couldn't be spatial. not literally. you'd end up playing in the metaphorical space of stories. or i think so anyway.
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there are thing like life sims (name escapes me now, but there's one called like RealWorld or something where you get assigned a country of birth, socioeconomic status, and then make decisions as you age) which take place across time without a real spatial dimension, but idk if that's what you mean
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Not sure about this topic, but this demonstration of non-Euclidean geometry is pretty badass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pmSPlYHxoY
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there are thing like life sims (name escapes me now, but there's one called like RealWorld or something where you get assigned a country of birth, socioeconomic status, and then make decisions as you age) which take place across time without a real spatial dimension, but idk if that's what you mean

Real Lives is what you're thinking of.
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Not sure about this topic, but this demonstration of non-Euclidean geometry is pretty badass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pmSPlYHxoY
Wow. Thats interesting
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Yeah that was really cool. Can't see the practicality or use though... other than maybe a Lovecraft themed game.
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there are thing like life sims (name escapes me now, but there's one called like RealWorld or something where you get assigned a country of birth, socioeconomic status, and then make decisions as you age) which take place across time without a real spatial dimension, but idk if that's what you mean
Sounds like the sort of thing! I'll have to try and get ahold of it.
Not sure about this topic, but this demonstration of non-Euclidean geometry is pretty badass: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pmSPlYHxoY
Interesting. Kind of the opposite of the topic but I love this kind of thing. You could use this to create a maze that works by creating resistant spaces to player movement rather than concrete walls. Because it would take so long to walk through a wall-area-thing, they'd have to take the shorter path. A less trivial/stupid example might be to bend the space in an area to encourage players to take particular paths as through they are mystically drawn along them. I don't know shit about non-euclidian geometry though so I have no idea how it would work.
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Yeah that was really cool. Can't see the practicality or use though... other than maybe a Lovecraft themed game.
You took the words right out of my mouth. However, if I understand correctly we cannot be certain that the universe we are actually living in is itself Euclidean! 
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Yeah that was really cool. Can't see the practicality or use though... other than maybe a Lovecraft themed game.
actually, i thought that there was something familiar in how it worked, as if real-life physics might in some minor ways work like that. dreams sort of have that kind of space in there a lot of time. idk i can't verify/guarantee any of this.
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Chris Crawford games. Legacy of Siboot. More abstract, menu-driven sims that are mostly text with, at most, a few icons. Really dry trading sims.

I guess games that are about certain activities but unconcerned by depicting or even describing the hypothetical spaces in which these things would realistically be occurring.

I really like the vibe of games that kind of fit that description but also give you a little visual representation of what they're talking about. Aerobiz, Vegas Stakes, Wall Street Kid.