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Stim Games: A Design Manifesto

In Life, what I personally need from games, video and otherwise, is not "plot" or "competition" or even "escapism"--all I want, being perfectly honest, is just something to do with my hands. However, games as a whole SUCK at providing this, they're too inundated with "progression" and similar concepts that ruin the ability of a game to simply be enjoyed as an idle activity for the hands and body. I have provided here a list of criteria which games are to aspire to if they ever want to appeal to ME, PERSONALLY. Follow these criteria if you want to make me something I'd like.

Sly Cooper 3
The original stim game, albeit overloaded with way too much unrelated nonsense. Picking pockets is still fun, though!

Most "game design advice" is bullshit and should not be taken seriously. "Flow" is a fake concept. "Rewards" are unnecessary (unless you want them)

Small is the new big.

No single game genuinely needs mechanics more complicated than Canabalt.

The prototypical "modern" stim game. Technically appeals more to more traditionally minded game designers, who enjoy avoiding the boxes and going as fast as possible, guaranteeing defeat. If played correctly, however, this is an ideal stim game.

It should not be necessary to save your progress in a game--games should start from the beginning every time.

DO NOT add any element where things you do in one session of the game carry on to the next (buying upgrades, EXP systems, etc)!! If a game is "not fun" without this, it is not a real game!!!!

Games should NOT get harder as they go on (other than psychologically)--if they do, you either have to wade through the easy part to get to the good part, or you only get to play the good part for a short while before it gets too hard to continue.

Flappy Bird
Proof that people DO like these kinds of games--Flappy Bird shows that you only need a little bit of work to be at least mildly entertaining.

You are supposed to be enjoying yourself within 0.2 seconds of starting a game, and I don't think I have a short attention span for feeling this way.

True SUCCESS should be impossible--success means the game is over, and is thus indistinguishable from failure. Any "success" should not cause the player to stop playing.

To put another way: if a game ends, it should always end in failureā€¦ but failure should always be avoidable!

Super Hexagon
Stim games for hardcore gamers who only play hardcore games. I wish it weren't so abstract, otherwise it'd be perfect!

Games should endeavor to be superior versions of the true ultimate art, fidget toys

Games should still have plots!

"Plots" in games should be narrative overlays--providing context and theme to chew on while playing. This does not mean development! Embrace the looney tunes nature of games. Better yet, embrace the Krazy Kat nature of games.

Self Portrait from thecatamites' 50- Short Games
Thecatamites's game "Self Portrait" from his 50 Short Games compilation--I go back to this one a lot, and it truly moves me--I like to mess around in it eating cherries while I wait for my wifi to come back on.

If you can remove a randomized element, you should do so.

If you can remove a scoring system, you should do so (there should still be some sort of goal)

Choices don't matter and are not "real" game design, as far as this manifesto is concerned.

"How do I make good games along these criteria" Figure it out, genius!

A game that meets these criteria is NOT inherently being nihilistic--this is just what I want! It's what I find "fun."

The Rubber Band level from Hohokum
The perfect stim game, or at last as near as we've come--apologies for the poor capture, this is the best level in Hohokum, but there's virtually no footage of it anywhere online--I had a good screenshot, but I lost it. This image here is from a Youtube let's play that skips straight to level end and never attempts to actually play with the mechanics. Pathetic.

As a former professional musician I cannot listen to music or podcasts or old radio shows without having something to do with my hands--in fact, this is the secret to how I've created so much visual art over the years, I just plug away at it while playing 8-hour YouTube videos on repeat in the background. As someone who wants to avoid the dual-nightmare demons of art burnout and carpal tunnel syndrome, I absolutely bodily NEED games along the lines of whats described in this manifesto. I cannot live without them, or I will have nothing to do in my off time from work other than doomscroll on social media, and that SUCKS. The world requires stim games, games that represent nothing more than "something to do with your hands," humanity needs them, and so do I.