In this piece, I wanted to briefly discuss some ways in which players create subgames in videogames, and what they say about the nature of various types of play and game spaces. I’ll start with a discussion of approaches to ‘ghost’ and pacifist playstyles in stealth games, and how these playstyles have become incorporated or re-appropriated in the rules of various host games. Afterwards, I’ll discuss how roleplaying in multiplayer videogames is practically always a subgame enacted outside of the digitally arbitrated game rules. Finally, just to mess with you, I’ll attempt to stretch my own model by talking about particular subgames I’ve tried to play within the roleplaying subgame.
Last week, Rami Ismail made a brief but important call for a bit of awareness concerning the status of English as the lingua franca in (the major part of) the games industry. I had been gathering thoughts on a discussion of the role of language in games criticism, specifically, for a while, so I figured now would be a good time to make things a bit more concrete. I had written a paragraph calling for awareness of linguistic diversity in games last summer, but didn’t really take the argument anywhere, so let me build on what I wrote there.