I have some reservations about Flanagan’s definition of critical play as it relates to game art. Flanagan suggests that “game art might be critical if it examines the medium itself”, and her propositions similarly only assign value to games as art if they are subversive, or opposite to some notion of games and gaming culture. Flanagan presents game art as valuable insofar as they are tied to their history and their context, and while I can’t argue that that is a valid critical approach, I find myself dissatisfied with limiting the potential of game art to this unimaginative definition.
With this in mind, I find Flanagan’s second proposition—toying with goals—most compelling because it shies away from the current context within which games exist and examines more the inherent semantics of games. The first proposition seems to propose games to be used as an “ethical simulation” in order to safely challenge our blind acceptance of embedded beliefs. While this is a valid purpose, I dislike that it reduces games to a doctored imitation of a greater force. The third also seems to only express criticality through opposites, which seems like too easy of an answer to me and one that I’ve resorted to too often. I’d like to explore more closely the idea of a game itself—of striving for a goal by overcoming challenges—so the second proposition aligns most closely with my goals as a maker.