The Not-a-Game Argument

I’m no expert on logical fallacies, but that doesn’t stop me from being annoyed by them. The Not-a-Game Argument is one of the worst. (I’m sure it has a proper name, but I haven’t bothered checking.)

Nintendo recently added some indie games to its online store. One of them, Gone Home, is an interactive story in which the player pieces together a narrative by wandering around a mansion and examining things. There are no bad guys to fight and no obstacles to overcome. It’s not a particularly video game-y video game.

The gaming community is not the friendliest, and some gamers have apparently been outraged by Gone Home. How dare its developers call it a game! It’s just a simulation, a story told passively, an affront to the artistic integrity of video games—including, I suppose, all the sophisticated and highly artistic games dedicated to shooting stuff.

Is Gone Home a video game? I’m not sure it matters. The problem with the Not-a-Game Argument is that it sidesteps the real questions. Is Gone Home good or bad? Is it art? Does it tell a good story? The Not-a-Game Argument refuses to ask these questions. It says, “I don’t like Gone Home, therefore it’s not a game and doesn’t have to be taken seriously. All arguments in its favor are invalidated, and can be ignored, because it doesn’t fit my personal specifications for a video game.”

The Not-a-Game Argument can be applied to anything. I can tell a Twilight fan, “I think the Twilight books are rubbish. Because you like them, your literary opinions must all be wrong.” I can tell an atheist, “I believe your worldview is incorrect, therefore I can ignore all of your views.” The Not-a-Game Argument is just a flimsy excuse for dismissing opinions we dislike.

Whether or not Gone Home is really a game, it’s worth taking seriously. Atheism, the Twilight books, and nearly everything else deserve consideration regardless of whether we end up agreeing with them. Not every conclusion is right, but every argument deserves to be heard.

In other news, Leo in the video above has perhaps the most soothing voice I’ve ever heard. It’s the polar opposite to Gilbert Gottfried’s harsh, grating tone. Gilbert and Leo should get together sometime and read poetry aloud.

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