It’s personal; but it’s not business—according to Douglas Wilson and Miguel Sicart’s take on abusive game design. Then what is its “personal purpose”? Like a broken record, they repeatedly state that abusive game design forces a dialogue between the player and the designer—but they neglect to move on to “why?” In their reasoning, the functionality of conventional, conservative game design makes the product entirely player-centric—as the designer must be “an advocate for the player” and “…must be egoless” (both qtd. in Sec. 2). However, when game theory abuses this standard, the product becomes designer-centric, thus promoting a dialogue between the player and the designer. They reason that the game, in this case, “is not about mastering the system, but about knowing the designer” (Sec. 5.1).
Perhaps Wilson and Sicart’s intent is to simply define and describe; yet even if this is the case, it must still contain reasoning or purpose. All methodology does. Or is the methodology only to go against the current gaming methodology? Furthermore, how is abusive game design situated within the methodologies of new media?
First, could abusive game design turn a profit as subgenre of gaming? In “Countergaming” Alexander Galloway discusses how the mod Counter-Strike of the successful game Half-Life became so popular in itself that the company who designed the original licensed the modified code and sold it commercially (113). If an abusive game design follows Wilson and Sicart’s evaluation of success (described in Section 6), is it not possible that it too could become a consumer product?
Second, is abusive game design a type of tactical media that challenges the status quo and initiates a counter dialogue? Fat Man Down—which is dialogue-based—certainly crosses over into this category as it meant to reveal society’s negative discourse toward obese people (Ostergaard). However, only the “socially abusive” or politically-based games—such as September 12th or PhoneStory that have a real-world application can raise these questions. All other abusively-designed games keep the dialogue between the designer and the player.
Lastly, could abusive game design be a form of artistic expression, a way to push the creative boundaries in this form? Wilson and Sicart allude to this when they state: “abusive game design is not a functional approach to design, but an aesthetic one…” (Sec. 5.1). (Emphasis mine.) In Kaizo Mario the enemies and obstacles are creatively placed in each level to provide the ultimate challenge for the player, which yields creative strategies from the hands of the player.