The language of video games

I don’t have a lot of extra time to watch or read stuff on game design, although I probably should bone up on that area. I might have to add PBS’s Game/Show to the mix, because I found the above video to be quite illuminating as it tackles the question of, “Why does Super Mario Bros. look/feel/play so good — particularly in comparison to so many other era contemporary games?”

The host talks about the vocabulary of the game, specifically Mario’s jump, and how that one action can be used in many “sentences” that cause a whole bunch of different results (versus how jumping in most games only has one result). He even links it to emergent gameplay, which was eyebrow-raising considering that this was back in 1985.

Anyway, I found the video fascinating and wanted to pass it on. Made me think a lot about how we often try to put a finger on why one game or MMO feels and plays a lot better than others even if we can’t clearly define it. Maybe its vocabulary is simply better.


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