An Open Letter From Me to Everyone Who Plays Games (or, The Table Gets Bigger)


Hi, and welcome! I’m glad you’re here! I know it can be daunting to check out blogs and websites about games, because there are a lot of opinions out there. And some of those opinions are quite pointed, shall we say. I know that this sort of thing is inevitable, but I don’t want it to get between people and games.

Let me backtrack a little. I come to games as a player, a creator, and an academic. I don’t say this to enumerate credentials, I say this to preface the next part: I come to games because I love them. I love them so much that I was moved to try building them (well, parts of them — I’m pretty anchored in the world of narrative), and I was moved to study them more closely.

This does not make me any better, or any worse, than any other reader or contributor here. I’m gonna say it again, because it’s important: None of my avenues into games make me any more or any less of an authority on games than any other reader or contributor here.

It stands to reason that if you’re here, you love games, too. You may only play, and you may stick to puzzlers that eat up mobile phone battery like no one’s business. Or you may have the most advanced gaming PC out there that looks like a rockin’ space station when it’s all lit up and ready to go.

Doesn’t matter. What matters is the love of games. So let’s talk about the things that we have in common, and let’s talk about the things we find amazing and that we love. I’ll start! For me, it’s this whole notion of a story that invites the audience to step on in and play a part.

When I first tried my hand at Zork on a little Apple IIc, I felt goosebumps when my words got responses. This was a world I could move around in, I could affect, and it could affect me back. And despite the single-player nature of the game, it could still be a shared experience. Friends told me about the things they chose to do and what happened as a result. That was in the late 80’s, right? Well, it’s 30 years later and I’m still talking with friends, and even strangers, about these wonderful reactive experiences.

And that’s why I’m here. I want to see what others are saying about these moments that we have with these pieces of ephemeral instructions that make technology behave in ways that amaze, annoy, surprise and move us. Thirty years! That’s about the length of a human generation these days. No longer some faddish distraction, they’re a form of culture and literature in their own right, and well worth all kinds of discussion. So if you, dear reader, ever feel for a moment like you’re not qualified to be here, like you’re not qualified to contribute? You are. Because as the banquet grows, the table gets bigger, and there most certainly is a seat for you.

Image credit: Outstanding in the Field