Definition of a ‘Game’

What constitutes a game?

I’ve played many games throughout my years, of so many varieties it’s hard to keep track.

But is there a set of factors that define what makes a game versus a cinematic experience. Is it interactivity? Does just having a controller in your hands make the difference?

So many games these days seem to push the line. The Telltale games for example, are they games or interactive stories? A choose your own adventure book realised in 3D, I never called Goosebumps a game.

V A P O R W A V E Source: Steam

Gameplay Defined by Movement

I picked up Wanderlust recently on Steam. It looked quite pretty and was only $10 so I thought I’d give it a go. It also had the unusual premise of being a ‘walking simulator’. Not a proper game so to speak, just a world to wander in and explore with no story or interaction of any sort.

Walking simulators have always piqued my interest. It’s a curious concept, once you remove all competition or incentive to play what is there? Why would it exist? I mean I’ve understood exploring worlds before, simple satisfying travel has always been a draw card. Swinging through the city streets in Spiderman 2, wandering the forest of Firewatch, or playing racing games with no bots, just enjoying the freedom of movement, but they’re always backed up with a game behind them.

I never understood how a game could be based entirely around the concept of movement without competition or story driving it along, and what if the travel isn’t satisfying in its own right? If it’s just walking at a slow pace looking at the world around, what’s left? Just an environment to look at.  What’s the draw?

The images don’t capture the trees swinging incredibly violently across the sky. Source: Steam

Feast Your Eyes

But I’ve since realised that it serves a different purpose, it’s not for the satisfaction of progression, it’s entirely targeted at the other, arguably more important element of gaming, the escape.

The walking simulator provides the escape from this world, the tearaway from modern life, without getting bogged down in story or gameplay, there’s no disappointment to be had, it’s simple, unadulterated, relaxation. It’s the ultimate phase out. Put on a podcast, put on some music, whatever you enjoy most in your ears, and give your eyes something pleasant to look at. It’s a nature documentary without the documentary.

As concept art it’s got promise. Source: Steam

Don’t Buy This Game

As a walking simulator, Wanderlust isn’t a good one, it’s not very expansive, and while quite pretty, it’s not exactly slow, it’s postmodernism taking over, it’s all about the A E S T H E T I C. It’s dropping you inside vaporwave. However, I think it still serves an important purpose. The walking simulator as a concept shouldn’t be written off, people need an escape, sure moderation is key, but it’s healthy to slow down every once in a while.

Don’t buy wanderlust, it’s pretty bad, go play Firewatch on free-roam mode or whatever else you find soothing that lets you wander aimlessly. Take some time, shut down your brain, and go for a virtual walk. You’ve earned it.




Journalism student, SpeedRunners champion, Dumpling connoisseur. I enjoy Armenian folk tunes and full on psytrance. My favourite show on Netflix is Deep Fried Masters. I like to relax by listening to Bob Ross at 110 decibels. Lover of anything wine or cheese based. I also play games, preferably about speed, or running, or both, some form of... speed running.