While I want to add more to the conversation we’re having about content/style, I’m taking a brief aside because I have wanted to (however briefly) engage some of the really interesting discussions happening right now in the gaming community regarding terminology, classification, and categorization. As I mentioned before, the Digra listserv has been hopping with activity over terms like narrative/narratology, ludology, and interactivity.

And Nick’s latest post over at Grand Text Auto brings us back to the general discussion of drawing up categories and to the specific distinction between virtual and non-virtual environments/ games. One remark in particular seems to have garnered significant interest:

Then there’s the question of when a game actually has a virtual environment and when it doesn’t, which I just alluded to. I’m still wondering if chess and hopscotch have virtual environments

(Mental aside: While I have to run to work, I want to come back to this quotation).

What strikes me initially about these conversations (and I’m as guilty in this as anyone, so let’s assume the finger is pointing at me) is that it seems as though we’re all talking in terms of taxonomical structure and, implicitly, its hierarchical, inheriting structures. So while we all nodded our heads when Lev Manovich wrote in The Language of New Media that this is a database age (I’ll dig for the quote later – I’m pressed to get to work), we then turned back to our flowcharts to see what games fit under what category.

So I’m suddenly trying to think more in terms of theory as database. Having worked on a few databases, I understand the basic structural development, so I’m trying to imagine what the tables would look like, what queries I would build, what keywords I would use, and how we might structure our thoughts differently if we were to build a database, rather than a taxonomy (in the strict sense – an ordered, inheriting system), of games?


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