Non-games define a class of software that lies on the border between video games, toys and applications. The original term non-game game was coined by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.[1] The main difference between non-games and traditional video games is the apparent lack of goals, objectives and challenges.[2] This allows the player a greater degree of self-expression through freeform play, since he can set up his own goals to achieve. Non-games are particularly successful on the Nintendo DS and Wii platforms, where a broad range of Japanese titles appeal to a growing number of casual gamers.[3][4]


Non-games have existed since the early days of video games, although there hasn't been a specific term for them. Among the earliest examples are Jaron Lanier's Alien Garden (Epyx, 1982), I, Robot (Atari 1983), which featured a special "ungame mode" called "Doodle City", and Jeff Minter's Psychedelia (Llamasoft, 1984), that is an interactive light synthesizer. The simulation game SimCity was called a software toy by its creator Will Wright, since there is no ultimate objective in the main game (scenarios with objectives existed in some incarnations of the game, such as Sim City 2000, but these were not the focus).[5] Dr. Kawashima's Brain Training (Brain Age) is a video game featuring a variety of puzzles and exercises designed to train the player's brain. The MUD genre, though dominated by computer RPGs, has long featured non-game varieties such as social MUDs, educational MUDs and talkers. Second Life can also be regarded as non-game, since its features allow usage as game and application alike. One of the latest examples of a non-game is Nintendo's Wii Fit which allows users to do exercises and track their weight without requiring goal-oriented gameplay. Korg DS-10 is a synthesizer-emulator for the DS designed exclusively for the creation of music.


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