You, A Very Meaningful Game

You: A Very Meaningful Game


You is a game about play and the illusive pursuit of meaningful play. Each level of the game is about problem solving a space for You to meet objectives while making sense of the in-game content. Using the player character You, the player is both making meaning out of nonsense and finding meaning where it is absent.   The game is designed as a light-hearted critical reflection on the intersection of narratology and ludology. Players must play with You, I and Them in the immutable structure of meaning making that forms the challenge of the game.

The Game

Borrowing from the rhetoric of research on narrative, play and the illusive pursuit of meaningful play, the game takes as its subject you. A character who is backwards, if it not traveling forward. A character that moves playfully, although permanently bound to the awkward limitations of its unmasked pursuit of meaning and place.

The player must put You in its place. At times, the player must manage You and I in simultaneous concert, in opposition or in cooperation.    Each level of the game is about problem solving a space for You to meet objectives while making sense of the in-game content. From this mechanic, the player is both making meaning out of nonsense and finding meaning where it is absent.  

The game is organized around the notion of a game poem, where rhetorical device is a combined application of narratology and ludology.  The game is not designed as a serious experience, but instead as a critical experience in meaning making in play.

It is the 10th game in the Critical Gamepaly collection, a 4 year project to offer alternative ways to play. 

The game is short, and ultimately pointless, but the lure of meaning is meant to be absurdely tantalizing. The game has a second layer of meaning the player must seek (no spoilers here), but players must  ask if that is worthwhile. If players pursue the less explicit meaning do they win the game? Can they win the game? What’s the “point” in winning and does it remain a game if there is no point? All questions you could ask in your endless pursuit of meaning, or you could simply play, except it for what it is, and understand that even with meaning the game is yet another platformer with a thinly draped layer of meaning. 

This game is not merely a serious game, this is an unserious game. In revolt to the serious game, this game declares it’s unseriousness. It stakes a claim in an already crowded space to declare it’s worth.  Other games may be serious, but this game is unserious. 

Artist statement and research:

This game is meaningful for its unseriousness. If you don’t understand unseriousness I have provided a useful collection of academic references for you to peruse[1-56]. Once you have read them the game will be much clearer. You is a very meaningful game. You is deep, intellectual and well informed. You fails the English language in all the right ways to make meaning apparent.  You means everything because without you there is nothing.  I is a hassle but you need I to finish the game. If you ever meet them you may not understand what to do.

Again, please check the references for a clearer understanding.  I have chosen ACM reference format to make the meaning clearer for you. You are after all the most important part. You are special. You are important. You are very smart. Share this experience with your friends and you will be rewarded. You are the center of the universe. You validate I.

You should tell people about unserious games. You will be rewarded for it. You will get more gold, or silver, or friends or whatever you need to win. You should write more about unserious games. You should help people understand nuances that don’t need to be understood. This will make you feel better. This will validate you.

If this is complicated, I think it’s important that you find references. You can show me how unserious games are not the same as non-serious games. You can get angry or you can take it for what it’s worth. It is important to have meaning, but it is important for you to be happy.  You should just keep reading to make sure you don’t’ miss anything. Do you feel good yet? If not I will do my best to make you feel good. You are the center of this universe.



  1. Grace, L. D. (2011). The Poetics of Game Design, Rhetoric and the Independent Game.
  2. Huizinga, J. (1949). Homo ludens: A study of the play element in culture (Vol. 3). Taylor & Francis.
  3. Chandler, C. M. P. V. J., Chandler, L. G. P. J., Kramer, P. P. P., Okafor, C. P. L., Mehrad, T. P. B., Lafia, E. O. S. M., ... & Rhinoceros, S. T. J. T. (1983). Representation.
  4. Edens, J. F., & McDermott, B. E. (2010). Examining the construct validity of the Psychopathic Personality Inventory–Revised: Preferential correlates of fearless dominance and self-centered impulsivity. Psychological assessment,22(1), 32.
  5. Büchner, S., Coricelli, G., & Greiner, B. (2007). Self-centered and other-regarding behavior in the solidarity game. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization62(2), 293-303.
  6. Freud, S. (1914). On narcissism: An introduction. Standard edition14(67), 102.
  7. Kohut, H. (1966). Forms and transformations of narcissism. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.
  8. Frankfurt, H. G., & Wilson, G. (2005). On bullshit (p. 14). Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  9. Bogost, I. (2011). Gamification is bullshit. Retrieved September5, 2012.
  10. Akrasia. Gambit .
  11. Elude. Gambit.
  12. Bushman, B. J., & Baumeister, R. F. (1998). Threatened egotism, narcissism, self-esteem, and direct and displaced aggression: Does self-love or self-hate lead to violence?. Journal of personality and social psychology, 75, 219-229.
  13. Primack, J. R., & Abrams, N. E. (2006). The View from the Center of the Universe. Riverhead Books.
  14. Penny, L. (2006). Your call is important to us: The truth about bullshit. Three Rivers Press.
  15. Vrij, A. (2004). Why professionals fail to catch liars and how they can improve. Legal and criminological psychology, 9(2), 159-181.
  16. Salen, K., & Zimmerman, E. (2005). Game design and meaningful play.Handbook of computer game studies, 59-79.
  17. Baudrillard, J. (1994). Simulacra & simulation. University of Michigan Press.
  18. de Bernardis, P., Ade, P. A. R., Bock, J. J., Bond, J. R., Borrill, J., Boscaleri, A., ... & Vittorio, N. (2000). A flat universe from high-resolution maps of the cosmic microwave background radiation. Nature, 404(6781), 955-959.
  19. Bond, C. F., Omar, A., Pitre, U., Lashley, B. R., Skaggs, L. M., & Kirk, C. T. (1992). Fishy-looking liars: Deception judgment from expectancy violation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 63, 969-969.
  20. Rouse III, R., & Ogden, S. (2010). Game design: Theory and practice. Jones & Bartlett Publishers.  
  21. Kolb, E. W., & Turner, M. S. (1990). The early universe. Front. Phys., Vol. 69,, 1.
  22. Dietz, T. L. (1998). An examination of violence and gender role portrayals in video games: Implications for gender socialization and aggressive behavior. Sex roles, 38(5-6), 425-442.
  23. Smith, S. L., Lachlan, K., & Tamborini, R. (2003). Popular video games: Quantifying the presentation of violence and its context. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 47(1), 58-76.
  24. Clark, R. L. (2012). Meaningful games: Exploring language with game theory. MIT Press.
  25. Steinkuehler, C. A. (2006). Why game (culture) studies now?. Games and Culture, 1(1), 97-102.
  26. Cooper, D. J., & Kagel, J. H. (2003). The impact of meaningful context on strategic play in signaling games. Journal of economic behavior & organization, 50(3), 311-337.
  27. Richter, H., & Britt, D. (1997). Dada: Art and Anti-Art (World of Art). New York, NY: Thames and Hudson.
  28. Rubin, W. S. (1969). Dada and surrealist art. Thames and Hudson.
  29. Erickson, J. D. (1984). Dada: performance, poetry, and art. Twayne.
  30. Bogost, I. (2010). Cow Clicker: The Making of Obsession'. blog]. Available at: http://www. bogost. com/blog/cow_clicker_1. shtml (accessed Apr. 2011).
  31. Li, Z. X., Bogdanova, S. V., Collins, A. S., Davidson, A., De Waele, B., Ernst, R. E., ... & Vernikovsky, V. (2008). Assembly, configuration, and break-up history of Rodinia: a synthesis. Precambrian Research, 160(1), 179-210.
  32. Pimentel, M. M., Fuck, R. A., & Botelho, N. F. (1999). Granites and the geodynamic history of the Neoproterozoic Brasılia belt, central Brazil: a review. Lithos, 46(3), 463-483.
  33. Michael, D. R., & Chen, S. L. (2005). Serious games: Games that educate, train, and inform. Muska & Lipman/Premier-Trade.
  34. Freeman, D. (2004). Creating emotion in games: The craft and art of emotioneering™. Computers in Entertainment (CIE), 2(3), 15-15.
  35. Jenkins, H. (2005). Games, the new lively art. Handbook of computer game studies, 175-192.
  36. Highet, G. (1962). The anatomy of satire (Vol. 18). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  37. Elliott, R. C. (1960). The power of satire: Magic, ritual, art (p. 141). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  38. Worcester, D. (1960). The art of satire. Russell & Russell.
  39. Electronic civil disobedience. Critical Art Ensemble, 1994.
  40. Digital resistance: Explorations in tactical media. New York: Autonomedia, 2001.
  41. Cary, R. (1998). Critical art pedagogy: Foundations for postmodern art education (Vol. 17). Routledge.
  42. You have to Burn the Rope. Mazapan. Last Played Argubrary 10 2042.
  43. Orwell, G. (1990). Nineteen Eighty-Four. 1949. The Complete Novels, 743-925.
  44. Barab, S. A., Thomas, M. K., Dodge, T., Squire, K., & Newell, M. (2004). Critical design ethnography: Designing for change. Anthropology & Education Quarterly, 35(2), 254-268.
  45. Dunne, A., & Raby, F. (2001). Design noir: The secret life of electronic objects. Springer.
  46. Flanagan, M. (2009). Critical play: radical game design. The MIT Press.
  47. Hagen, E. H., & Hammerstein, P. (2006). Game theory and human evolution: A critique of some recent interpretations of experimental games. Theoretical population biology, 69(3), 339-348.
  48. Wolfenstein, M. (1954). Children's humor: A psychological analysis (pp. 66-77). Glencoe, III.: Free Press.
  49. Gelbart, L. (1998). Laughing matters: on writing MASH, Tootsie, Oh, God!, and a few other funny things. Random House.          
  50. Broverman, I. K., Broverman, D. M., Clarkson, F. E., Rosenkrantz, P. S., & Vogel, S. R. (1970). Sex-role stereotypes and clinical judgments of mental health. Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 34(1), 1.
  51. Ryff, C. D. (1989). Happiness is everything, or is it? Explorations on the meaning of psychological well-being. Journal of personality and social psychology, 57(6), 1069-1081.
  52. Coates, J. F., & Jarratt, J. (1989). What futurists believe. Lomond.
  53. Pike, C. (Ed.). (1979). The Futurists, the formalists, and the Marxist critique. Ink Links.
  54. Adams, D. (2012). The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The Trilogy of Five. Tor.
  55. SANCHEZ‐CRAIG, M. A. R. T. H. A. (1986). The hitchhikers' guide to alcohol treatment. British Journal of Addiction, 81(5), 597-600.
  56. Adams, D. (2010). The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Macmillan Children's Books.


You Game Screen  
You Game Screen  
You Game Screen  
You Game Screen