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When Nothing is Something

Gamingtodaynews1g - When Nothing is Something

All right, tell me, tell me about the stories. What kind of stories?

Oh, no. No stories.

No stories? So, what is it?

What'd you do today?

I got up and came to work.

There's a show. That's a show.

How is that a show?

Well, uh, maybe something happens on the way to work.

No, no, no. Nothing happens.

Well, something happens.

Well, why am I watching it?

Because it's on TV!

I recently had one of the most memorable and engaging experiences in all my years of playing games with a janky little indie game called Empyrion – Galactic Survival – you can read a detailed account of my experience here but I'll give the tl;dr version for the sake of this post.

I got myself and my spaceship stranded on a high-gravity planet without any way to escape. I asked through chat if anybody was able to come rescue me and somebody was willing but I had to wait around for 15 minutes – basically doing nothing – until they could.

So I did.

And it was fun.

Some of the best gameplay I've ever experienced involved very little gameplay at all – kind of counterintuitive, right?

But I suppose if we think in terms of 'ebb and flow' it makes sense – I'm sure there are other posts on this sub that do a more thorough job of exploring 'downtime' and how it's integral to the flow of gameplay and narrative.


Another example that springs to mind is the Arma series – in general Arma's gameplay is highly dependent on the specific scenario and/or add-ons, and these are all fairly specific to a server or community.

There's a joke that Arma is actually a walking simulator disguised as a military simulator, and it's a good joke because there is some legitimate truth to it – many groups or 'units' as they refer to themselves in Arma like to roleplay or make scenarios as 'realistic' as possible, and 95% of your time in the military is not spent shooting at anybody, but that threat is still ever-present.

And that 'nothingness' is actually really important because it's punctuated by instances of intense action, and those are made all the more significant when juxtaposed with 'nothing' – it stands opposed to Battlefield for example which just never lets up – it's just constant explosions and in-your-face action without any space for a breath – and that's fine – but there's also something missing when a game can't, or won't, use 'nothing' as 'something'.

Not really sure where I'm going with this but that's as good a place as any to end it.

Any thoughts? I've only described multiplayer games but this aspect is probably even more important and obvious in singleplayer worlds.e

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