I played the game “Places” by jlv.fi (I couldn’t find the author, so I went to the Tumblr to search the blog). It seems like this is an open-sourced game with many different developers and contributors. I played the web version of the game that has many different maps to choose from and explore directly online. I was unsure who the target audience would be as this game could appeal to many people but given the game description “Places are small and atmospheric 3D paintings where one can walk around and spend a few minutes” I would imagine the audience is anyone who wants to relax and zone-out for a few minutes or people who appreciate art and nature. I will say, the art could be a little more realistic. Up close, the trees and bushes become a mess of lines.
At first, I was a little anxious playing the game, it seemed like a waste of time without an objective which made me very nervous. However, once you accept there is no outcome to the game, you can focus on its objective, which is simply to explore the map, relax and disengage for a few minutes. This is a single player game with no competition, just the player playing with the game (not against it). The mechanics of the game were some of the simplest I have seen for any game, you simply press WASD to move, space to jump, shift to increase speed and move the cursor to change the perspective. The barrier to entry is extremely low, anyone with a few minutes can be a “pro.”
Types of Fun
As I mentioned before, I was ready to rage quit the game. I thought to myself “wow this is not fun at all.” However, with a different perspective, Places can be fun, you just need to know what you’re getting out of the game and more importantly, what you are not. There is a big element of sensation. The game is immersive with its art, nature scenery and sound. You can feel as though you are walking, jumping or swimming, which I thought was very successful. I am not sure if there is a narrative element I missed. Personally, I did not find any story being told in the game, it seemed completely un-guided. You just walk around and do as you wish. Maybe I would have added a little more story to the game, why are we exploring this world, who are we? There’s an element of exploration as you walk around and see new corners of the map, which I would not equate to discovery. You are not actually discovering anything new or ever left thinking “I wonder what is on the other side of this bush.” Importantly, I think there is a big element of submission. The fun is about disconnecting your brain and just being there for a few minutes, with no worries and no real purpose.