I had not heard of the Jace Hall show, but being a glutton for attention, I provided them with a quote when they asked for my thoughts on their selection of the top 50 videogame endings.
My response – perhaps predictably – was that “endings” aren’t something intrinsic to videogames and in fact most of my favorite games don’t have an ending. Here’s the quote from me that they ran:
…traditionally games don’t have endings. Games like Basketball, Chess, and Scrabble are activities meant to be repeated, rather than a series of levels to be beaten or a story to be played through. Many digital games, from Asteroids and Tetris to Street Fighter and Smash Bros to Sim City and Civilization are on this model of games designed for repeated play – and they don’t have endings. I prefer these kinds of games, as they are less premised on a desire to imitate cinema or linear storytelling and they are more focused on games as games -as systems of rules that reward deep and repeated exploration.
I guess that says it all. I don’t even want to say that games should or should not be something – there is certainly room in the possibility space of game design for games with endings – but it all does strike me as a little bit odd. The game equivalent of early films set on proscenium stage and shot from the auditorium seats.
Let a million flowers wilt.