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Not to be confused with application software that are not related to gaming.

Non-games are a class of software on the border between video games and toys. The original term non-game game was coined by Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who describes it as "a form of entertainment that really doesn't have a winner, or even a real conclusion".[1] The main difference between non-games and traditional video games is the apparent lack of goals, objectives and challenges.[2] This allows the player a greater degree of self-expression through freeform play, since he or she can set up his or her own goals to achieve. Non-games are particularly successful on the Nintendo DS and Wii platforms, where a broad range of Japanese titles have appealed to a growing number of casual gamers.[3][4]


Non-games have existed since the early days of video games, although there hasn't been a specific term for them. Among the earliest examples are Jaron Lanier's Alien Garden (Epyx, 1982) and Moondust (Creative Software, 1983), Worms? (one of the five 1983 launch titles from Electronic Arts), I, Robot (Atari, 1983), which featured a special "ungame mode" called "Doodle City", and Jeff Minter's Psychedelia (Llamasoft, 1984), which is an interactive light synthesizer

In January 1984, Joel Gluck presented a simple toy called Bounce in his game design column in ANALOG Computing.[5] Bounce lets users draw low-resolution lines, then release a disc that leaves a permanent trail as it moves across the screen, making patterns as it reflects off of obstacles. The program is specifically designed not to have goals or scorekeeping, other than what is in the user's head. Bounce was revisited several times in ANALOG, including a faster version which allows multiple discs.[6]

The 1989 simulation game SimCity was called a software toy by its creator Will Wright, since there is no ultimate objective in the main game (scenarios with objectives existed in some incarnations of the game, such as Sim City 2000, but these were not the focus).[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ IGN: GDC 2005: Iwata Keynote Transcript, March 2005
  2. ^ Francisco Queiroz: Insular, Critical Appraisal. September 2005
  3. ^ non-games sales figures in Japan, May 2007 (Japanese)
  4. ^ IGN: Non-Game Flood: Twelve more non games are set for the Japanese DS, July 2006
  5. ^ Gluck, Joel (January 1984). "Our Game". ANALOG Computing (15). 
  6. ^ Gluck, Joel (February 1985). "More Fun with Bounce!". ANALOG Computing (27). 
  7. ^ The History of Civilization at GamaSutra

External links[edit]