Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What Does It Mean to be Meaningful?

This sounds like a weird philosophical digression, and perhaps it is. I am not above getting distracted. But, if the ultimate goal of a video game is to be meaningful, then we need to decide what we mean by meaningful. I am going to work into this via analogies from other media. Do books and films have to be meaningful? And if they are, what does that mean?

I should mention, if it isn't already obvious, that I am thinking this think through as I go along. So, what I decide further down the line may look very different from my initial impressions. At the same time, my conclusions may look very much like my initial impressions. I just don't know at this stage.

First, I think there are varying degrees of meaningfulness. A thing is minimally meaningful if it adjusts your in some way so that you are better prepared to cope with your life. A thing is maximally meaningful if it helps you to make sense out of your life and your experiences, or if it brings your life and experiences into perspective. I am flirting with a connection with the transcendental here but am not going to go quite that far.

That's not too bad for a start. We will see where it goes. Next, I will apply the definition to books and films. I will see if tha exercise helps me to refine or solidify the definition. Then I will apply it to video games. This is not, I should hasten to mention, just a quixotic philosophical pursuit. If I am right about what I am thinking here the ultimate design goal for a video game should be that it be meaningful. We'll see how it goes.