Is this a game?
Does it matter? Also yes, far as video games are concerned yes. Game isn't really a good term to describe the full scope of what games have become especially if you go around throwing the original meaning of the word (jump rope and drinking can be games but going to the museum or eating at applebees cannot be games) at things to see if they stick... but it's the best term we have to refer in general to interactive entertainment so we go with it.
Is it a game in the way chess and baseball are? No, but the majority of video games aren't.
Is it a video game in the way The Last of Us, Battlefield 4, and Super Mario are? Absolutely.
People need to stop getting caught up on the word "game" when it comes to video games. When the medium was named that was exactly what it was, games that were played on a video screen. But the medium has evolved, and like most mediums the name it has no longer defines what it entails.
Films are not defined by the substance for which they were named, and in fact most films are now shot digitally and don't involve film at all. Television shows are not defined by television, as many of them are now viewed mostly over the internet on computer monitors. Many people experience books on tablets and don't ever hold an actual book at all. Many video games aren't actually traditional games (meaning only about competition with winners and losers), but we still call them video games.
Most entertainment evolves past the confines of its original name as time moves on, but we continue to use the original name because that's just what we call them. Video Games are not different. Unless you want to stop calling all the netflix original programming tv shows or disqualify all novels that don't have physical printings from being called books, let's cut this "not a game" bullshit.
You interact with it to further the story and explore the environment. Is it a game? Hm...... depends on what you think a "game" is. Certainly Gone Home has no challenge whatsoever. No obstacle to overcome. No puzzles to solve. No enemies to defeat. There is very little fun to be had in interacting with the environment in Gone Home itself - the interactions are to further the story which is quite poignant and interesting.
Interactive Experience is a better term for it, and one that is just as good as "game". Calling it an interactive experience does not diminish its power or its worth. We've gone from "Don't call it a game" to emphasize its worth to "It HAS to be called a game" in order to emphasize its worth - what a strange development!
Something doesn't have to be a game for it to be extremely worth your time. "To the Moon" is my favorite piece of media, ever. I like it more than Catch-22 the novel, I like it more than any film I've ever seen - it's my favorite story. And I don't think it's a game at all. Yes, you interact with it a little. There are a few "action" pieces which you can't lose and a few absurdly simple puzzles put in there, I think, to justify calling it a game, but it didn't need any of those things to be absolutely special. It's an interactive Experience or an Interactive Story - not a game, really. That doesn't mean it is less moving than "The Last of Us" or any game or film or book.
Whether or not its a game SIMPLY DOESN'T MATTER, if you really think about it. And to anyone who wouldn't play "To the Moon" or "Gone Home" because they don't think it's a "game" - well, sorry. You're missing out.
You actively interact with the world, which makes it a game in my book. Unlike a visual novel, where you are just making choices and reading text, your actions have an effect on the world.
They really don't have an effect on the world. A game involves more than just clicking on things, they generally require some type of objective or goal. This piece of software doesn't have a real objective or goal, it's just an interactive story akin to something like an audiobook. It's not a game.
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