Think back to the end of 2012 and early 2013. When it came time for every outlet under the sun to hand out their awards, two games in particular stood out. The Walking Dead and Journey. They even dominated events such as the Spike VGAs and the Game Developer Conference Awards. Now, not everyone agrees with these award choices, and that’s entirely okay. The problem is that many argued against the praise on the grounds that they felt neither one was truly a video game.

Truly a video game? 

Now, the discussion of what qualifies as "gameplay" has been had numerous times, even on this site. We even discussed it on our To the Moon spoilercast. I try to remain open-minded when it comes to defining games. Simplistic mechanics, a lack of a fail-state, and nontraditional gameplay are a few of the common staples in "Not Games." But none of those bother me, and I’ll gladly argue — to death — that they probably shouldn’t perturb anybody else.

Yet there are some who are of the opposite mind. "The Walking Dead isn’t a game, it’s just a visual novel. Heavy Rain should've been a movie. You don’t do anything in Journey besides walk around." These are the types of arguments on the other side of the debate.

A rose by any other name, my dear friends. Words are a creation of mankind. Hopefully we can all accept that. And like us, our words have evolved over the course of their existence. "Gay" is but oneenormously relevant example of this. So why can’t the definition of video game morph in the same manner?

Who are you to tell a developer that what they created was not a game? If that’s what they said they did, then that’s what they did. Sure, we have to keep things within reason. Writing a mathematics textbook and then claiming it to be a game is potentially going too far, unless its visuals are computer generated and if it posses structured interactive play. I guess then it's just the first video game that wears the trappings of mathematical instruction.


 The thing is, I don’t intend to argue this point to death. I know I’m not nearly convincing enough to sway the other side. I’m here to point out a fact. A cold, hard fact. The solution is staring us straight in the face. Maybe even shouting at us. If we would simply accept it, no one would be harmed in the aftermath.

If those shouting to the high heavens that titles like the The Walking Dead are Not Games would simply accept that they are Actual Video Games, the results would be almost singularly positive.

What’s the harm in conceding? The only wounds to be suffered are superficial. Let's all swallow our pride and end this debate, moving on to far more important matters like the sub-par representation of non-white males in games, or the threats developers receive when they disappoint their fans. I know this likely comes off as incredibly arrogant, but I really do find it difficult to convince any negative repercussions of a widened definition. Admit the category is ever-changing and that’ll be that. I assure you there is no Kool-aid, no secret cult.

No good comes from denying a game’s gamely existence, but plenty of good will come of accepting the fringe cases, embracing them, and moving on with our lives.

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