First Word / Last Word is a very elegant way of describing one of the biggest divides in the art community, but it is also comparable to, or directly related, to the schism forming in the latest developing art medium: video games. First Word and Last Word games are more often described as Abstract and Formalist, respectively. Most of video game history is dominated by formalist games, games that adhere to expectations from its related genre, but there has been an increasing amount of abstract games coming to popular attention. Now there is a lot of controversy over how video games should be defined.
A formalist definition of video games would provide clear boundaries for what could be a video game, but such boundaries would restrict creative deviations. On the contrary, a loose abstractionist video game definition could make the title meaningless. If anything could count as a game, then nothing is a game.
Whenever I encounter this First Word/ Last Word argmument, I always try to explain that both forms of art build on each other. Abstractionists spur and inspire Formalists, and Formalists provide boundaries for Abstractionists to break. I have learned a lot about myself through video games, and I want the medium to go places where it hasn’t been and to accomplish what hasn’t before and become a medium that teaches us about life in ways that other mediums cannot. That will rely on the community’s and video game developers’ understanding of what a video game truly is.