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Open Worlds- An Introduction

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Open Worlds- An Introduction

We play games in an ever growing world. I mean that literally, in the sense that there are more people playing video games now than ever before, but also in the sense that worlds we play games in are growing. Expanding to ever greater horizons. 

Sometimes, it's because they do incredible new things, shattering our perceptions of what games can be and how they can play. Those are the special games, the one's we'll remember in years, even decades. Often times though, games will go for a more obvious solution to the innovation problem- they get bigger.

Last year, Metal Gear Solid was announced as going open world, so were Mirror's Edge, The Witcher, even Zelda went open world with Link Between Worlds. Every new AAA game announced that isn't a first person shooter is probably either an open world game, or features some open world mechanics. Open worlds are pretty much where it's at these days. Yet, we don't often see a ton of innovation on that concept. Grand Theft Auto is the same core game that it's been since GTA III, Assasin's Creed's solution to improving its open world was to make it bigger and pull a Wind Waker by taking you to the seas. Our worlds are getting bigger, but not necessarily better in any tangible way. 

Meanwhile, games in the indie space don't tackle the open world nearly as much as their AAA counterparts. Is it a resource thing? Do they not want to follow the trends set forth by the mainstream industry? Retro City Rampage, an NES-styled take on Grand Theft Auto gameplay took years to make, and didn't really set the world on fire. Even Minecraft, which is technically open world, isn't really played for that aspect. The upcoming No Man's Sky looks absolutely fascinating, but, like Minecraft, it's open world is procedurally generated, making it a pretty different take on the norm. Is that the future of open worlds? Co-opting rogue-like tropes and appealing them to a wider audience?

In a nutshell, what is the future of open worlds? Are they the most stagnant genre in our medium of murder simulators? Or are they, like their name implies, open to changes that we can't even imagine yet? 

Let's get lost. 

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Love and Games - An Introduction

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Love and Games - An Introduction

There's just something about games that make me want to love them.

Not romantically or anything. I've never wanted to go to the movies with Dark Souls, or take Spelltower out for a candlelight dinner. There's just this spark in some games that's so powerful, so fascinating, that I can't help but want to like them. There's a soul, a beautiful soul, to the best of games. A kernel of passion that proves beyond a doubt that this is something you should want to love, even if it's flawed. 

But this month isn't about loving games, it's about love in games.

Games have tried to approach love for years. Love interests in stories, romantic options for your player character, dating sims, even erotic games can all trace their roots back to the early stages of the medium. We've always been fascinated with digital love, and now, we at Built to Play want to explore that. Love is a pretty mysterious concept in the real space, but its extension into the digital space of videogames is something worth thinking about. Why do we want romantic option? Why do we want to fall in love with things we know aren't real? Why do we let dating sims put the wool over our eyes, and give us an illusory love?

Of course, there's a flip side too. Why do we hate? People hate certain games strongly enough to do something with that rage, same as love. Our primariy interaction with almost any game isn't one of love, it's one of hate, or at least disinterest, why is that? And back to taking Dark Souls out on a date, why do we get so passionate about these things, both positively and negatively? What can we use that passion for?

Love isn't something we can put a label on an understand, and that's not what we're trying to do here. We want to ask a different question. We know why love and games intersect. That much is clear. Love is something we as people crave, and thus it permeates pretty much every artistic medium we have available to us. We want to look at the points that love intersects with games, and see why those intersections matter. And also, why the absence of those intersections matter just as much.

Or in the famous words of Otacon: Do you think love can bloom even on a battlefield?

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What is a Video Game? - An Introduction

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What is a Video Game? - An Introduction

Here at Built to Play, we want to ask the kinds of questions that can help us better understand our burgeoning medium.

In just a few decades, video games have become one of the largest entertainment industries in the world, up there with music and movies. Video games are being consumed by millions every day, but the kind of criticism and deeper thought that other creative industries see regularly are rare in the gaming space.

Luckily, that sort of criticism is becoming more and more common, and we want to join that discourse. We want to ask big questions, and give as many answers as we can. We want to think, along with you, about what video games are, what they can be, and what they can do.

So that’s why we’re starting our new theme months. At the beginning of each month, we’re going to ask a question. A big, wide reaching question, most likely with multiple answers. And then we’ll try to present as many answers as we can. We want to offer as many answers from as many perspectives as possible. We want to be inclusive, we want to be part of a larger discourse, and that means never ignoring anyone’s ideas.

On your end, that's going to mean at least one article a week about the theme, exploring it some way. We'll have some new, more regular features along the way, and we'll still be peppering the site with more news-y features like we've been doing up until now, along with regular reviews. 

So to kick us off, we want to start with what might be the medium’s biggest question, but also the simplest.

What is a video game, and why does it matter?

What is a game? How can we define it? Can we define it at all? Is a definition important? What does it matter what we call it? Does the history of the medium matter to our understanding of it? Does it even matter how we define it at all?

Like we mentioned earlier, video games are still young, very young, and in this early state, it’s sometimes hard to know exactly what a video game is. The communities growing around them occasionally bring up the question, but it always serves to distance people from each other. The debate rages in circles forever. Far be it from us to demand a stop to it, but we also don’t want to define videogames ourselves. We want to take all possible definitions in turn,and talk about them. Where they came from, what they mean for the medium, and how they can bring us closer together. We believe that everyone who plays games of any kind, can get together and discuss what they love, without worrying about how they define them.

By the end of the month, we hope to provide an exhaustive exploration of these questions and more. We want to spark discussion, we want to ask the big questions, and we want to try our best to provide the big answers.

We hope you’ll come along with us for the ride.

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