Games are interactive, and we often think of interactions as verbs. Run, jump, shoot, get, unlock. Any of us can conceive of a game that uses these verbs.
But games are a huge market, with loads of competition. To break from the crowd, we can try to find verbs that no one has used in a game. We can also try to design games that don’t rely on verbs (at least in the way we normally use them).
I’d like to be part of a workgroup that collects and documents ways to break from the common verbs of game design. I think we could focus on 1) finding verbs that are unused in games, 2) find design paradigms that can’t be reduced to verbs, or don’t rely on verbs, 3) finding ways to combine verbs in new ways to produce unusual gameplay.
This is a cool idea for a topic. Richard Serra (the sculptor) came up with a list of verbs back in the late ’60s to help spark ideas for artwork. You can see it here: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/152793
I’d assert that games must have verbs, or there’s no interaction and no game — but I think this is an interesting discussion to press into. I also think looking at how we can expand our verb vocabulary is really important, both by looking beyond the tried-and-true, and into combining existing verbs as well.
I am super interested in this topic, and definitely think we need more nuanced understandings around the paradigms of doing. And especially, inventing some new ones! I think we can learn a lot from indie games in this arena.