From the moment I broke Mario through the ceiling of Super Mario Bros. World 1-2 to bypass the next few levels of that game, I've assumed that an essential part of playing video games is being subversive.
I've assumed that not following the rules was part of following the rules.
I've believed that to play a game partially involves playing with a game, shaking it to see if it breaks, poking it with a stick to see how it reacts, and, of course, always shooting the character who is talking to you in a game to see if they even pause their speech (usually, they don't).
The people who use cheat codes or exploit Modern Warfare 2 to fight dirty surely agree that subversion is a valid arrow for the gamer's quiver. So does anyone who likes to take a shortcut in a racing game or use a single play that works every time in Madden.
I recently had reason to wonder, though, if defying the directives of game designers is the "right" way to play.
In a speech back in February, Sims and Sim City creator Will Wright cast his vote for subversion. He was talking about toys in a conference room located below one of the biggest toy expos of the year, New York City's Toy Fair. He brought up the movie Toy Story and declared this his favorite character in the film was Sid, the kid who took all the toys, broke them apart, glued them into new things and essentially menaced his action figures when he wasn't terrifying his Tinker Toys. "He was presented in Toy Story as the villain, which I didn't understand," Wright said. "It was me. It is me." So says the man whose Sims games can either be used by players who want to manipulate a dollhouse of domestic bliss or see what happens when you lock a virtually living Barbie in a room with no doors and plummeting control of her bladder and ability to stay still.