It's architectural, it’s spatial, it’s procedural, it’s aural, it’s happening on dozens of different physical platforms. We don't have ways to talk about the aesthetic experience of mastering a system of rules, the growing understanding of how that system treats, rewards, or punishes you, where its peaks and valleys are. We don’t know what it means to have art you can win or lose. (I’ve run workshops where we try and adapt Romeo and Juliet to interactive media: What happens to tragedy when you can win?)
We’re not even talking about a moving stable target. The medium is still the site of constant experimentation — technological, formal, aesthetic ideas emerge every year. And compared to the mainstream games that take two or three years to make, the world of hobbyist, indie, and academic game development are on fast-forward, and more ambitious developers are constantly watching and learning from them). We know we can do better. If we're honest with ourselves, Bioshock isn't good enough. Grand Theft Auto IV isn't good enough.