7Here’s a secret about Frog Factions: It is impossible to lose. Or, to be precise, it’s impossible within the context of the game to achieve a failure state.

The only losing move is not to play.

Certain parts of the game pretend that losing is a possibility. The action segments certainly imply that the player’s experience could abruptly come to and end like… well, like a video game.

Or like life.

However: This is never actually the case. The player is never in any, uh, ‘danger’.

This is hardly unprecedented. A lot of noise was made around the release of Dear Esther about it being ‘not a game’. People were surprisingly worked up on that point, as though being a game were somehow inherently desirable or as though Dear Esther was somehow sold under false pretenses. However, game designs without failure states have been popular for a long time: For a relatively early electronic example, look at the LucasArts adventure games.

But then, that’s it isn’t it? Those are puzzle games. Y(o)u can’t fail at a jigsaw puzzle unless you lose a piece. The expectations we have of ‘games’ are different, aren’t they?

This is why I dislike genre as a concept. Categorization like this, usually intended to help people find what they like, becomes weaponized and used to exclude things, becomes a value judgment instead of an unbiased appraisal. That which was intended to confirm the existence of something new comes instead to deny the existence of its descendants.

Things are what they are. The terminology is not super important here.


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