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How is a game “meant” to be played?

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On a thread regarding speedruns, @Shagger mentioned that speedruns "defy the point of gaming," to which @TheSteelyardDweller mentioned that speedruns might be a "different way to play a game."

This got me thinking rather broadly about intention, game design, and practical use (though on this specific point, I think I see things how @Shagger does).

Most of us here mentioned that speedruns aren’t really something that interest us. But I am sure most of us can think of times we played games in a way other than was likely intended.

For example, I have spent a lot of time in Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament 2004 just trying to clamber up to the highest points on the map as possible.

When I was a kid, there were golf games on PC that my parents bought a lot of. I remember I never cared about making the holes. I just kept using the golf club to steer the ball and myself to distant points on the map. I would eventually hit the edge, but the idea that there could somehow be “more” was always tantalizing to me. In hindsight, I realize that I was using the golf games to try and fill my longing for open world exploration.

Obviously, I was not making the best possible use of the golf games, but it is interesting to me that I was still trying to do something logical. I just hadn’t found any game that were designed to offer the use I wanted.

Does anyone have examples of games you used in non-intended ways?

For that matter, does anyone here openly oppose playing games in ways they were not "meant" to be played by their developers?

And which games have you played that were extremely open-ended in terms of developer intent and audience use?

Edited by StaceyPowers
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