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.
First released in 2005, The Endless Forest is a “multiplayer online game” and “social screensaver” developed by Flemish studio Tale of Tales. It was originally commissioned by the Musee d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean in Luxemburg in 2003, and has passed through various stages of development since its original inception. Version 3.3 was released in November 2009 and presents only the latest of these developments: the addition of a new location in the forest.