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The End

Is the beginning.

No, this is not a spoiler. It’s not a reference to the ending of Kentucky Route Zero. At least, not as far as I know. The beginning and end of KRZ, as far as I can tell, are not the same. KRZ is not LOST. In terms of KRZ, this is more a reference to The Zero and how it basically goes in circles. Like the ludology vs. narratology debate. The title and intro are entirely a reference to the debate.

The ludology vs. narratology debate seems to be about opposing viewpoints. It’s great to consider opposing viewpoints because we can gain a broader view of something. Wonderful, but we don’t always side with a particular viewpoint. Sometimes there’s grey area. Ludology vs. narratology raises an endless series of moot points. Use of ‘moot points’ here is a double entendre (see first and second definitions here). I’ll bet you were thinking of the second definition, so please comment below. I’m thinking it’s both.

Yes, the debate will, and should rage on until the universe is too overcrowded for any more debate. Whilst considering the debate, I’ve had many thoughts about what a game is. There are so many elements presented by the debate. Some games lean one way, while some lean the other. These elements of narratology are present in this game, but not so much in this other game. Is there overlap? A vast, gaping gray area of overlap? We understand all these different elements that appear in games, but we have no answer to the debate. There is no answer, I’ve thought. We learn a great deal about elements of games from the debate, but there is no answer. All these elements, and no answer.

I’m fairly certain one of two things has happened to me:

  1. I was driven mad by playing KRZ and considering the debate, or
  2. While contemplating ludology vs. narratology and playing KRZ, I went insane.

I’m also fairly certain that, shortly after one of the above possibilities occurred, I sought to end the debate.Yes, I thought I could somehow do that. I thought I could distill the game to a common element. An element present with every game. Surely such an element will reveal some key importance to what a game is, I thought. There must be some answer to appease the raving hordes of narratologists and ludologists, I cried aloud!

I played KRZ, searching for an answer. I drove along the roads, highways and The Zero. Circles. Circles, I tell you! There are no answers here. Only more questions. I began to descend, deeper and deeper into vexatious questions. What is a game? Is the debate a game? Is KRZ a game? What games have I been playing lately? Have I been playing games? If games contain elements that are unique to the game (or type of game), how could I even begin to define ‘game’ as a general concept? The term ‘game’ began to seem so vague and limitless. Down I went. Into the depths of The Zero. Round and round I went. I wondered if I even knew enough to say something, anything about what a game is.

In my lunacy I realized that games could not be defined by rules. There certainly are games without rules. There are games without limits. Games with no story. Some people do not enjoy this game, or that game. Fun does not define games. Nor winning. Nor any end sort of resolution or ending. Vainly, I tried to answer the question. To end the debate. One by one, I removed elements from the list of concepts that could potentially define what a game is. Until only one element remained. I pondered the inseparability of this element and the concepts of ‘game’. I realized that there is no game without this element. This is the absolute one thing that there must be in order to have a game, I rejoiced! But I realized this one element was not enough to define the concept of a what a damned game really is. The element itself was not capable of defining a game, which is clearly evidenced in the narratology vs. ludology debates. I had nothing.

I still have nothing. I have carefully crafted my current views on the ludology vs. narratology debates and concept of ‘game’ into a set of memes. Consider them a futile attempt to end the debate which never ends. I offer you yet another viewpoint.

3 thoughts on “The End

  1. “This is the end, weird scenes inside the gold mine” song lyrics from the Doors. This song sums up the weirdness of KRZ, or maybe it’s just me.

  2. I’m with you when it comes to the game driving me insane! I think that comparing KRZ to the narratology/ludology debate was very clever. It helps my understanding and point of the game. I wonder if the creators of KRZ were thinking about these concepts when creating the game.

  3. Something, Something about the journey and not the destination. Even if the destination is insanity, it seems you had a nice trip.

    Yes, have some – Vins Clortho, keymaster of Gozer