After much hassling from me, my good friend Jim Parker finally set up a blog the other day, and the first post – about the nature of play – is a cracker. Click here to read it.

Jim and I clearly see very much eye-to-eye on this issue – I would much rather play a game that gives me the chance to do something I can’t do elsewhere. Escapism into a simulated reality very rarely interests me, with the possible exception of Pro Evolution Soccer.

I enjoyed the whole article, but this section stands out to me:

I’d prefer an ultra un-realistic game to be quite honest, a game where I can fly, a game where I can do super human feats, a game with no gravity, no rules and no limits.

Although such a game would be near-impossible to design and play, the message is clear: play is our chance to take on new personae, escape the limitations of our human world and embark on new adventures, exploring fantasy worlds and our imaginations. To play is not to simulate situations we find or avoid in our own lives, but to give ourselves experiences otherwise impossible.

There’s obviously a lot of money to be made from games that simulate reality as closely as possible, but it’s a futile endeavour if you ask me. “Reality games” could end up with the same reputation as “reality TV”, another media attempting to capture our everyday lives for entertainment’s sake that often falls flat.

As a future games programmer, Jim has the chance to shape what games we’ll be playing in years to come. It sounds to me like he’s got exactly the right idea not only about what we play but, crucially, why. Let’s hope developers around the world agree, and that we start to see that reflected in their games.

Related links:

Jim Parker – game blog.