I figured out embarrassingly late in my gaming career—since Will and I started Gameplaywright—that the thing I value most when I’m playing a game is when it allows me to be creative. (The delay of this discovery may, of course, also be related to my tastes and motivations for gaming having changed since late elementary school. But even if so, opportunities for creativity have long been a part of the equation.) The reason for my won’t-go-away attraction to traditional, tabletop roleplaying games becomes obvious, as does the reason for my distaste of most computer RPGs.
You’re also aware, if you’ve read Gameplaywright for any length of time, that I’m a writer who takes language seriously.
I may have also expressed my distaste here for puzzle-solving games and puzzles generally. I find playing them to be a lot like trying to unlock a door given only an infinite key-ring. Even most menial labor at least results in something each time you do it. (Other than “failure,” that is.)
Behold this description of actual play, from the Joystiq piece:
Andrew created a teleporter in an attempt to instantly apparate to the Starite — instead, it took him to a medieval world where he was besieged by shadowy assassins. He tried distracting them with candy — really, Andrew? — then created a fairly anachronistic nuke. The nuke didn’t detonate, however, so andrew created a laser rifle to take out the assassins. One of his lasers grazed the aforementioned WMD, and blew up the entire level.
It’s like this game was made for me. The creative aspect eliminates the one-solution annoyance, and the basis for truly broad creativity is beautiful, beautiful words. In all seriousness, it’s likely that I’ll buy a DS to play this game.
Scribblenauts is also more evidence that you’d be correct, most of the time, to bet on Nintendo platforms as the place where gameplay innovation takes place. While your PS3 and Xbox 360 are busy spewing more and more polygons onto the screen, Nintendo developers are busy making the game itself more interesting, and more fun.