Why Minimalism Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Bad

Posted by (twitter: @oldtopman)
April 26th, 2013 9:24 pm

Okay, I know a lot of you are saying, “Minimalism? That means crap games!” Others shout, “I already make tiny games! Why is this any different?”. I reply, “Minimalism is the most elegant theme yet.”

First, we must begin with the definition of minimalism. A lot of people seem to believe that it means “Cut the most corners”. Merriam Webster defines minimalism as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity”. What’s the difference between “cut corners” and “extreme sparseness and simplicity”? Allow me to show you an example.

Dell Inspiron

Eee PC

Macbook Air

(Apologies if the images are too big/small, I did what I could)

Two of these computers are designed to be high performance machines.
Two of these computers are expensive.
One of these is designed to be cheap.
One of these is designed to be elegant.

Take a look at the elegant machine. How does it achieve its elegance? It DOES NOT achieve that elegance with multiple wrist rest colors, text everywhere, and offset keys on the trackpad. It DOES NOT achieve its elegance with multiple seams and separate parts for everything. The elegant machine is elegant because it DOES NOT have any of those things at all! The elegant machine is elegant because it is missing pieces. You might even say that it’s sparse, or simple.

It is indubitably minimalist.


Allow me to say this more bluntly.
The Dell is your average Ludum Dare game. Not very elegant, but powerful and functional. Nothing wrong with it, especially when we’re working under such a time crunch.
The Eee PC is what you all think minimalism means. Fast, cheap, crappy. Barely functional. Making this is a cakewalk for those of you that made Dells for the past few years.
The Macbook Air is what minimalism means. The gameplay is smooth, intuitive. Certainly, the menus are sparse, but you don’t need them; you write the game so that you don’t have to add them. In doing so, you make a game better, smoother, faster, and more appealing. Why mask your gameplay behind menus and buttons? Minimalism is removing every possible obstruction between your core gameplay and the gamer.

That’s my opinion anyway. I have no doubt that we’ll see a ton of Eee PCs. I didn’t write this to magically force everyone to make Macbooks, I wrote it to explain that minimalism is a Macbook and not an Eee PC.


P.S. – I don’t care whether or not you think Apple computers are overpriced/evil/whatever. That’s not the point here, so don’t argue about it.

P.P.S. – Buy my game.

One Response to “Why Minimalism Doesn’t Necessarily Mean Bad”

  1. JaJ says:

    I agree. The problem is that if you use the theme that way, you arn’t really using it as a theme. Voters will just see a great game “that has nothing to do with the theme”.

    But I think I’m just going to use it both as a theme and the way you suggested.

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