I suppose this post has spoilers for Proteus. It’s hard to know, as it’s not a traditional game when it comes to its story or systems. In fact, popular opinion is split on whether this Proteus is a game at all. If something has no clear faiure or win states and no in-game actions besides simple locomotion, is it a game?
The question has re-spawned a labyrinthian debate around the nature of medium: the philosophies, semantics, and hurt feelings are quite hard to untangle. Because of this, I admire Matthew Burns’s Alexandrian response: the idea of video games as a unified medium has become intractable. In his words, trying to reconcile experimental design with the mainstream publishing scene is akin to “a faculty member from Juilliard express[ing] a desire for ‘a dialogue’ with Sid Vicious about chord progressions. It’s not that these two don’t see eye to eye on matters of music theory ... it’s that the punks have arrived on the scene with such a completely different set of values that they might as well be from different planets” (“Our Immiscible Future”, Magical Wasteland, 27 April 2013) It’s sad that we cannot return to “the prelapsarian niceness of thinking that everyone should hang out with everyone else ... but there is an element to defining the self that is made out of forsaking something else.” Things change, but that’s okay.