What Makes A Game

Crew Private Eye Case File

Drraagh slowly paces around his office, looking around at the room as he slowly paces. He is bouncing a ball back and forth between his hands. “101, 102, 103…” he keeps counting as he goes around, slowly stepping through the office. He then smiles slightly. “See, the idea is just to see how long you can keep bouncing while walking. It’s not catching it, just the idea of bouncing off the palms of your hands, keeping them shoulder length apart.” He chuckles a little and looks back at the desk, tossing the ball towards the trashcan before moving back to his chair to take a seat. “See, the concept here is finding ways to keep yourself entertained and what makes a game, something I’ve been thinking about after talking to the Captain on some things. We talked about how various games are played by children, some being to the point of physical damage, while others are creative in their style.”

“Let’s talk about a game called Bloody Knuckles which is essentially a punching game where players punch walls or even each other’s fist until one decides to quit. It is an idea of testing their limits, testing their strength, which is one of the things that kids usually do. It is sort of a more violent version of the Red Hands game children play, hands on top of each other, flipping them over to try and slap the hands on top. Heck, think about the sorts of things kids do, they divide themselves into groups and they tend to figure ways to categorize and compare and be better than someone else, as the pecking order is being established.” He takes a sigh, looking around the room again and nods, smiling. “This is them finding games to test that superiority, to find their place in the pecking order that is the micro-society of school. After all, these are usually the same people you will see for up to 12 years of your life, before moving on to college. People you spend like six to eight hours five days a week with, and then encounter in the same events after school as well. You go to the mall or to a dance or to a game and these people will be there too. So, you need to figure out where everyone fits in your circle.”

“Some of the other games are more about assimilation and joining into a shared collective, playing on the idea of imagination and belief, and in some degree, the willingness to belong. For example, The Blowgun Game where one player can shoot another player with an imaginary blowgun as long as they both are looking at each other and make a pretend blowgun firing sound. That person shot must act like they have a blowgun dart stuck in them and lie immobile until someone else pulls out the dart. Sort of a variant on freeze tag, with the pretend cowboys and indians games of youth being thrown in.” Drraagh says with a smile as he  looks towards the desk once again, spreading out some papers along the top of his desk. “This is where people need to be willing to belong, willing to do silly things to be accepted, willing to play in a shared world. You look at the sort of things adults do and it mostly is by following imaginary rules because ‘that’s what everyone else does’. The real successful people look at the normal ways everyone does things and figure ways to go about them differently, by using that creativity we had mostly bred out of us when we moved on from being children.”

A deep breath escapes Drraagh before he slowly looks down at the desk. “There is a quote from 1 Corithians, Verse 13 that goes, ‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.‘ This is repeated in so many different places, but one I find thought provoking when talking about games is a  lyric from ‘A Cloak of Elvenkind’ by Marcy Playground

A cloaking robe of elven kind
Hangs in my wardrobe behind
All those things that mother
Said were proper for a boy

That is the opening to the song and that set alone makes me think of something like a young boy who is being told by their mother that ‘those games’ are not the sort of things you should be concerning yourself with. Instead, there’s other matters that you need to be worrying about. Sound like pretty much anyone else’s childhood?  There were so many times you would have to make sacrifices in order for some larger goal that you were attempting to achieve. Just remember, keep looking towards that future for too long and you’ll end up in a Cat’s in the Cradle Scenario where

I’ve long since retired and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, I’d like to see you if you don’t mind
He said, I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

Drraagh looks up from his desk and nods, smiling. “It’s part of the reason I think that getting involved in roleplaying makes you part of a community worldwide, much like getting involved in gaming in general. You can meet someone across the world with the same interests as you, who has grown up doing similar things as you, probably made similar decisions, and you can usually sit down at a table with someone and become fast friends like people used to do as children with kids they just met. It was because you were letting go of all the trappings of the real world and just creating something together, something that was yours alone, a private moment that no one could take from you.” He chuckles a bit more and leans over to the basket to get the ball and start bouncing it again. “One… Two… Three…” he says slowly and smiles, “In the words of Wil Wheaton on his Youtube show TableTop….”