‘Replay value’ is not some timeless virtue sought by all media for all of history. It is a political viewpoint wrapped in a sales pitch perpetuated by people trying to improve the market position of their mass-produced entertainment products. By appropriating the word ‘content’, which denotes what we want, our intrepid capitalist marketers have steered us away from the conceptual, spiritual and artistic content Hegel envisions. All we want now is more stuff for a lower price.
The Design of Everyday Things has only so much to say about videogames as an art form. Unlike a thermostat or an operating system, no amount of study can tell us exactly what a videogame should do for a player; its purposes are fundamentally artistic rather than designed. Sometimes they can be messy and often they can be obscure, but these are virtues in themselves. Games are made of software, but they are not only software. They can benefit from good affordances, but there is joy in discovering features for oneself. A videogame is not an everyday thing; yet by behaving as if it is we’ve warped the practice of game development. Our wayward school of thought pretends towards DOET‘s long shadow, but its claim is illegitimate. It does not honour the user by bringing her the best possible work; instead it coddles her by doing what she asks rather than imagining all that she might appreciate. In the process it leaves her without imagination, blind to the world beyond the tail feathers. It is more like a cult than a religion, and its time should pass.