“Not to be used for the other use.”
– warning label on a Japanese food processor.
Perhaps the most fun people can have within a system is messing with it. When we come across an app, a game, a gadget, or an online community, it’s a presentation of a set of tools with a strong suggestion of how to use them. A suggestion, but not a requirement.
For example, when you play “The Sims,” you’re intended to manage a life for a pretend person or family. That setting where you’re building their house was added so that you can customize the look of the place. It has about as much bearing on the gameplay as the wallpaper on your desktop does, and yet customizing it is probably one of the most engaging aspects of the game. Don’t tell me my friends and I are the only ones who hit Rosebud* a million times and forgot all about the family while building mansions for them.
The house customization was probably only included in “The Sims” because status symbols were important for the aesthetic of the game. If I recall correctly, the people were slightly happier if they were surrounded by nice stuff, but the effects of this were buried in with a slew of other qualifiers. “The Sims” is not “Minecraft**” It’s not a building game, but without the building setting, my friends and I probably wouldn’t have cared much about it. It was not designed as a building game, but it could be played as such. And so, play it as a building game we did.
This is something game creators need to keep in mind. The creator’s idea might not be the audience’s idea of a good game, but if the game allows for what the audience wants, then the creator can still reach them. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every game should try to be like “Pokemon,***” combining aspects of many gaming formats to come up with something that everyone can like. However, game creators need to be aware that the people who play their games may be looking for alternate ways to play them.
Now, “The Sims” is a fairly small example of people using programs for The Other Use. There are some much bigger ones out there, so now that I’ve set the scene, I’ll go into them one by one in the upcoming days. Til next time,**** look around and see if you’re using anything for The Other Use.
* Rosebud = a cheat code to get more in-game currency, which is required for building and decorating the houses.
** Actually, “Minecraft” isn’t even “Minecraft.” More on that later.
*** They shouldn’t.
****Til next time? Did this just become a 1980s TV show?