For years it’s been apparent that interpreting games and their makers through the opposed lenses of gameplay or story is inadequate. Such a one-dimensional spectrum breeds false oppositions (fun-or-art?) while either ignoring many games that don’t fit or reinterpreting them so they fit badly. The spectrum is too reductive and, while it is easy to summarise, it leaves out too much context.
Rather than talking about games in terms of two lenses, I use four (potentially five, but I’ll come back to that). Each represents a common set of assumptions and predispositions that I often see in makers, and there are correlations between them which makes for an interesting (though perhaps deceptively symmetric) diagram.
This post is long, but I’d like to take you through each in turn. I think you’ll find it useful.