For this critical play, I played a few “environments” of Places by jlv.fi (Tumblr profile) on my web browser. I found it hard to define the target audience of the game. As mentioned in the reading, I think this game appeal less to experience “hardcore” gamers and more to a relaxed and artistic audience who is looking for a very different type of experience. I think it could be a great game for people who want to step away from the world for a few minutes and explore beautiful pieces of art in a digital world. It is extremely accessible to players with little to no skill since the controls are very basic.
This game is very simple and involves just a player and the game (computer), which makes it a single-player game. However here the player is not playing against the game, but rather with it, I would say.
Objectives and Outcomes:
As a “walking simulator,” the objective of this game is hidden at first. My very first impression was “what is the point of this game”? I didn’t see any objective or outcome and so I deemed it to be less “fun”. However, after playing for a while, and reflecting on the reading, I learned to appreciate that the intention of this game is very different from what I was used to. But just because it didn’t fulfill that same kind of fun I was used to, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have an objective. I’d say the objective here is to discover, relax, and disconnect from the real world. Accepting that there is no actual outcome is part of the objective, which lets the player become immersed in the environment.
Types of Fun:
This game tackles types of fun I am not used to playing, which is one of the reasons it was “less fun” to play at the beginning. First I think this game has some elements of “sensation” as players move around and simply look at the beautiful visuals, almost like an art piece. The controls of the game also made it feel like I was walking in that space. I also think this game is mostly “discovery” as the intention of the game is simply for players to move around the environment and discover what is there. When I was playing, I was constantly thinking “what is inside the forest?”, and “what is over there?” and wanted to discover.
Fails, Successes, and Improvements:
One of the biggest successes was that the game changed my perspective on walking simulators. When I started the game I was very bored and kept asking myself what I was supposed to do. My roommate even saw me playing and asked me what I had to do in the game. I did not know how to answer. After playing for a few minutes, and exploring the map and changing environments, I learned to appreciate that the beauty of the game was not in its outcome, but rather in the exploration. While I wouldn’t play this game again, I have definitely changed my perspective. Nonetheless, one of the biggest fails in my opinion is the lack of story or guidance. While I understand that the game itself is meant to not have any outcome, it would’ve been nice to have at least a paragraph explaining who we are and where we are, and something more poetic alluding to the artistic nature of the game. I think this could be a big improvement. Having a small 5 sentence text right before jumping into the game would really help set the scene. Another epic fail was that I didn’t realize I could speed up my walking by pressing shift until halfway through the game ( I accidentally clicked on it). I might’ve skipped the starting instructions but an improvement would be to have a small help button on the top right with a reminder of the controls. However, I do acknowledge this might distract and take away from the beauty of the scenery.