On narrative in Tetris / Match 3, and mechanics in IF

Chris Billows asked the following on Twitter:

I want to reply very quickly and briefly, but without having to split things up into 140 character chunks. So:

1. Any statement about games will create edge cases where the statement breaks down. But the statement can apply to a sufficient amount of games to be useful. Tools, not rules.

2. I make a difference between fictional (non-abstract) and narrative (some form of ‘story’, something happening to someone).

3. Every game can be said to have a degree of ‘fictiveness’: some games have more, some games less.

4. There are very few purely abstract games which have no fictional element whatsover.

5. I used to think Tetris was one of them, but no longer.

6. The setting, the fictional part, is enormously helpful in casual games to quickly and efficiently explain how a game works. They provide metaphors.

7. I learned this working on casual games. I also learned this trying to fix the UI of an existing game, and realizing that the UI was wrong because the metaphors of the underlying mechanics (what those mechanics ‘meant’) were wrong.

8. (In case you wonder, the relevant metaphors in Tetris are gravity and solidity. Obviously this is an edge case and I don’t blame you if you scoff at it. But please think about fiction and metaphors. It’s very powerful.)

9. Regarding the mechanics of IF games, I answered that here:

Hope that helps a little bit.