Gameplay is poetics for video games. The the rules and mechanics which coalesce into game feel and fun could be seen as an aesthetic. RTSs, FPSs, puzzlers, and platformers are the gaming equivalent to the villanelle, sonnet, or elegy. Some may scoff at comparing video games to classic poetic forms, but these game genres function in the same way: establishing a set of rules, a structure, in which the creator must work with restrictions to produce to an artwork.
Within these forms are devices like the volta, or turn, in the sonnet or paralepsis (emphasizing a point by pretending to pass over it) in a speech. The same analog is seen in the way games play with forms: Portal’s take on the FPS, Rocket League’s car soccer mashup, or Overwatch’s hero based shooter. The devices within these forms of gameplay create different forms of play and satisfaction.
We can now add game to that list: Morphies Law. The devs describe their multiplayer FPS as “a body morphology driven 3D Shooter. The basic rule of the game is simple: each weapon hit transfers mass from the victim’s inflicted limb to the corresponding limb of the wielder of the weapon.”
Basically if you shoot someone in the head their head gets smaller and yours gets bigger. The same rule applies to every body of your avatar. Hilarity and a genuine sense of wonder ensue. Does this reach the aesthetic heights of quatrains in Sonnet 18? A literature professor somewhere is sneering at the thought. But the creation of joy and fun is nothing to scoff at.
It’s easy to get jaded as gamer, feeling like we’ve seen it all. But occasionally people come around with such a strange idea you’re reminded that game forms are infinitely exhaustible. Playing with new forms and devices honor human imagination and its infinite creative range.
Anyway, fuck the poetry stuff, watch this seriously cool ass gameplay trailer. I challenge you to find a more inspired game video today. If you do, post in the comments!