Nightmare Mode is doing a series on the classification of games in three categories: as simulations, as toys and as stories. This is the second in the series--games as toys.
"It didn’t take us long at all to start making games and digital toys and this is probably a good thing. “Toys enhance cognitive behavior and stimulate creativity” says Wikipedia. If that’s true (and it probably is) then toys are some of the most important things on the planets. They teach us how to think, behave, relax, and even work.
What are they, though? What are digital toys? Most games has problems, narrative, obstacles, puzzles, rules, characters and other things one doesn’t usually find in a toy aisle. Some do not; they are our digital toys. The truest example of which I’ve ever come across is the appropriately named Source engine modification Garry’s Mod. In it, a user can spawn non-player characters and objects, pose them like action figures, arm them, set up epic battles, build robots, or take comedic, dramatic or even salacious screenshots of the posed ragdoll models."