The player makes a movement, either himself or through a computer avatar.
When that simple action is the dominant element of an experience, you've got a movement game
The primary content of a movement game is its control scheme. There are a lot of established and potential genres
for movement control: flight, platformer (jumping), driving, swimming, climbing, running. (These are commonly seen as totally distinct Forms.)
Movement games will always exist. Moving around is the most natural thing for us to do, to the point where we get bored if we don't
keep moving. And each time new hardware brings new kinds of controls with it, gamists are instantly inspired
with subjects for potential movement games.
Some types of movement are fun to begin with. Flight, for instance. Everyone wants to be able to fly. Other types of movement are pretty boring, but you can make fun games around them by adding challenges.
Take a mouse cursor, for instance, like the one you're probably using now. Move it in a circle a few times. Okay, I take it back- that is
pretty entertaining, for some reason. (I guess I'm easily amused by such things.) But there's not enough entertainment there to fill a long game with.
So you add another element native to movement games: obstacles
. These are objects which may not be touched, or else you lose. Suddenly, you've got something more worthwhile. You're not just randomly waving your hand around, you're challenging yourself to move around skillfully
. Another native element is the reverse: objects which you are encouraged
to touch, perhaps with points or additions to the control. (Objects which add abilities are usually called "power-ups
Already that's enough for a good time. Here's a good illustration: Squares
More can be built on top of these elements, which is also well-established as a part of the Form. The frequency
of obstacles can be manipulated to create dynamic levels of intensity. Power-ups can be used to add temporary variations on the gameplay. Plus there are other variations on the do touch/don't touch mechanic: objects which must
be touched or approached, walls
which may not be touched, objects which may be touched from one side but not another, objects which are bad to touch until you touch something else, and then they're good. The objects can move around in set ways, and the player can progress through entire worlds made of positive objects, negative objects, and neutral objects.
There might also be clear instructions on which moves to make, which you are then required to follow precisely. This is challenging even without
These conventions, which have accumulated over the years, can be put in the service of any sort of control, two-dimensional or three-dimensional (or one-dimensional, in the case of early movement games like Pong
There's abstract movement, like the mouse cursor. (Now that I put it that way, I guess Ball Revamped
is an "abstract movement game".) There are vehicles: cars (which are called "driving games"), planes (which are called "flight games"), boats (which aren't called anything, because there aren't enough games like that). There's dance
, where all movement corresponds with how a real human body would move around. (Real-world dance is a sub-Form of the movement game.) There's swimming and climbing and running and jumping. And then there's just plain human walking around, but who'd want to play a game about that? (It shouldn't be a pure movement game if that's the type of movement.)
Movement, being such a useful activity, is often used as a subordinate element in other types of games. This is so common that it can often be seen as a tool given to the player (much like camera control or an option menu), rather than entertainment in and of itself.
A popular element in movement games is a timer, where you have to reach a certain point before the timer runs down. Games in which this element gets a large focus are called racing games
. This sub-Form has accumulated many conventions of its own over the years, evolving out of the emphasis on speed: repetitive environments, competitors, special floors which speed you up, etc. Though most racing games are in the driving genre of control, any other sort of control could be used in a racing game provided it is possible to move fast.
The movement game is very close to the action game. If you move to push something, which do you look at as the dominant element: the movement or the pushing (which is encompassed in the action Form)? If the former, then it is a movement game. If the latter, then it is an action game. This distinction is ambiguous, and many conventions are shared by the two Forms. However, there exists a hybrid (action movement game) when both movement and action are prominent. (The action-platformer is the most common genre of this hybrid.)
The movement game is also close to the exploration game. Though it is possible to see a world from a distance (which is unrelated to the movement Form), it is more appealing to step into the world via some sort of control. Since movement can become such a defining element of these experiences, it is not incorrect to classify these games by their controls rather than their world design. Movement games often include detailed worlds, but when this as well as the control is a focus the game is a movement-exploration hybrid. (Super Mario 64
, for instance, is an exploration platformer.)
When gamism expands to interface directly with our brains, the movement game will give us different bodies and states of being, so that we can feel what they would be like. That is what movement games strive to be.