I recently Listened to a podcast where the person being interviewed argued that Proteus (a game on steam) is not a game on the basis that the player does not face challenges, solve puzzles or make decisions. I disagree completely. The first thing you do is have to decide where to go, you are simply dropped onto an expansive island to explore. Proteus Is clearly parsed into “levels” as finding rings of light advance you to the next stage, so you have an objective. You can’t die, but are consequences necessary to make something a game? I have any number of IOS games that effectively have infinite lives.
For me this debate spiritually harkens back to the induction (or abduction) of science fiction books into literature. Frankenstein, 1984, Brave New World, etc are science fiction through and through but you typically won’t see them in the science fiction section at the library or book store. I feel like this is similar in that reclassifying artistic games as interactive art takes away from gaming because it pairs away experiences that give legitimacy in the public eye of gaming as an artform. The definition of what makes a game needs to be expanded in an era where we are increasingly creating games that play on abstractions or interpretations of reality. Games are both an artistic expression and an interactive experience.
So is Proteus a game? Yes!
Is Proteus art? Yes!