Gameception: When Players Make Their Own Games Within a Game


In the past I’ve mentioned what I think is the subtle difference between gamers just playing games versus gamers playing with games. Game designers sometimes spend years crafting what they think is an enjoyable and engaging experience, only to release the game to players who figure out their own ways in which to play the game, sometimes contrary to what the developers had in mind.

Often these games within games take the form of self imposed restrictions where players limit themselves for a greater challenge. Other times players come together to create their own rules and mini-games to stave off the boredom from doing the same things over and over again. Either way one thing is for sure, whenever a game is released, regardless of genre, someone is going to think of something else to do other than the built-in objectives thought-up by the designers. After the jump are a handful I could think of off the top of my head, feel free to add any you think belong on the list in the comments below.

The Skyrim Pacifist – Felix the Peaceful Monk


What do you think of when you think of Skyrim? If you’re anything like me, mentioning Skyrim conjures images of battling dragons, purging the undead, turning into a werewolf, or simply wrecking havoc at random all over the in-game world. Regardless of how you play the game, I think it’s safe to say that at some point there’s going to be some violence… at least for everyone except WestSideLuigi and his character Felix the Peaceful Monk aka Felix the Cat. He’s sworn off killing anything in the game, even the undead, because as he puts it “Felix the cat doesn’t even kill the undead, he’s just a great guy.”

Using a clever combination of calming animals, fearing enemies, and tank healing, Felix the Cat managed to get pretty far into the world of Skyrim before his honor code prohibited him from continuing. By focusing on survivability and a healthy amount of wit, Felix the Cat took advantage of the game’s robust utility trees such as Illusion to complete as many of the game’s non-lethal objectives as he could while keeping his honor code intact. At one point his progress was halted as he was required to kill something, I think it was a dragon, to continue with the main quest, however given his demeanor I don’t think Felix the Cat was meant to be a true-blue Dragonborn anyway.

NovaWar Says – Starcraft 2 


Why would anybody ever want to make Starcraft 2 any more difficult than it already is? I won’t go in to how much more enjoyable the game is for me to watch than play, especially when I’m watching NovaWar and MaximusBlack on their LAGTV Starcraft 2 channel, but let’s just say my brain can’t handle having to balance both a macro game and a micro game at the same time. This is why I think their series “NovaWar Says” is something I would never try, even though it’s fun to watch. Essentially NovaWar gives MaximusBlack certain rules to follow at the beginning of a Starcraft 2 game. Sometimes it’s something simple like Marines only or Battlecruiser rush, other times it’s vastly more difficult like playing left-handed or a “let’s see how you do with the screen displayed upside down”, or as they call it the Australian Edition.

There are some serious aspects to their channel, but it’s the games in which they make up their own rules, even while playing on the ladder, that are the most entertaining – even to them judging by their laughter. I still wouldn’t try it as I’m sure a five year old could beat me even with the screen flipped upside down, but sometimes you have to make your own rules in order to make your own fun.



I think I’ve featured ONLYUSEmeBLADE in the past as he runs my favorite CoD YouTube channel, but his melee only style of gameplay also fits into the category of self imposed restrictions, creating his own game within a game. It’s not uncommon to get knifed in a game of CoD, in fact it happens all too often, but ONLYUSEmeBLADE uses nothing but knifes in one of the most gun-oriented games of this generation. His reaction videos need no introduction as many on Xbox Live aren’t particularly happy with his style of play, especially when playing Gun Game where getting knifed sets players back a tier.

It would be one thing if it was only part of his channel, but he uses knives exclusively, showing a commitment to the game he enjoys playing even if it isn’t the same as everyone else’s. His channel is the perfect example of the types of things players do when they really don’t feel like playing the game “as designed.” The video above was casted by ELPRESADOR, another popular YouTube caster.

Mike Myers – CoD, Rainbow Six, etc. 


This is kind of an obscure one, but having actually participated first-hand I figured I would put it on the list. One day a few years ago while playing a completely normal game of Rainbow Six: New Vegas 2, someone in chat asked if we all wanted to play Mike Myers instead. “Mike Myers?” I said, “What’s that?” I spent the next two hours laughing more than I had in recent memory. There are a bunch of different types of Mike Myers depending on the game you’re playing, usually shooters, that assigns one person as Mike Myers with everyone else as his unfortunate prey. In the mode I played, the person playing as Mr. Myers was given a shotgun and smoke grenades while the rest of us were confined to using the pistol. The objective was to kill Mike Myers before he killed you, which was nearly impossible in smoky close quarters against a shotgun wielding maniac. Still, it was the most fun I had playing the game, vastly more so than the game modes created by the design team. You would think people would cheat, and sometimes they did, but for the most part there was more commitment to staying true to our own mini-game than in any of the other authentic game modes I played.

Ultimate Bravery – League of Legends 


The learning curve for a MOBA can be pretty high, even LoL, but after a few hundred (or thousand) games things can get a little… bland. That’s where Ultimate Bravery comes in. Players are given random champions, random items, and random Summoner Spells to battle opponents who are most likely playing normally. Any combination is possible; attack damage on casters, tank items on assassins, and spell damage on those without any spells. It’s obviously best to play with friends as most people don’t appreciate what will most likely be a tough game, but sometimes it’s a good exercise in really learning how to play well even at a disadvantage.

I actually won a few games this way, even with really crappy builds, but most of the time it’s a free win for the other team. However, winning a game of Ultimate Bravery also grants the winners ultimate bragging rights, especially useful for trolling all chat at the end of a game. Nothing says a satisfying victory like crushing with attack damage Heimerdinger (normally a caster), so it’s pretty much mandatory that you remind the other team of that as they are losing.

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  1. “Mike Myers” reminds me of the first AvP where everybody would play Marines except one Predator player. I have never played a funnier LAN session ever since.

  2. I only knew the first two.

    myself, I used to replay the first 3 splinter cell, once knocking of everyone, once killing everyone, once trying to avoid to touch anyone… in this orders as each one was more difficult than the previous one!

    almost every speedrun and superplay could do it in this list, but the one that impress me the most resently was the blindfold Mike tyson punch-out done by sinister1 at awesome games done quick 2013 :
    (sorry I only find a video with french commentary that pretty much cover the sounds of the game)

  3. You may or may not recall that what is now the “Flood” gametype in Halo multiplayer was originally a player-created viral game named “Resident Evil” or “Zombies” depending on who you played it with. Good times, but now that it’s official it somehow just isn’t as fun.

  4. You should add Skyrim Trick Shots; People setting up baskets, buckets and pots as basketball baskets, then using Telekinesis on Cabbages to perform insane trick shots to sink a basket.

  5. There’s a pokemon one, where if your pokemon runs out of HP you have to release it into the wild. As if it were actually dying. I forget what it’s called but my girlfriend does it… Something like nuzlock

  6. @Nix – Yeah they’re Nuzlocke runs. Also you can only catch the first Pokemon that you encounter in an area.

    Some people also play that encountering a Pokemon that you all ready have doesn’t count and you don’t have to have a team with 5 Ratatta on it…or that you box/release your starter as soon as you catch your first Pokemon.

  7. Super Mario 64 – Japanese 1up mushroom of doom.

    Find one of those mushrooms that appear (usually at the top of trees) , spin twice and then fly towards you, and then run the hell away from it. Gather the 8 red coins and the corresponding star without the mushroom catching you. Do this on every level.

    Found this on YouTube, it’s hilarious to hear the two Japanese guys scream and panic about the devilish mushroom.

  8. My personal favorite is kicking it old school. The Naked Challenge from the ultimate Castlevania game Symphony of the Night. Complete the game using no weapons or sub-weapons. The only articles allowed for use are the gold and silver rings and the holy glasses to get to the second castle and all available relics. Only a true badass can complete it.

  9. One of my crowning achievements in games was Contra using no powerups. Did it with 30 lives code first, then managed to get it done without it several attempts later.

  10. The oldie but goodie was Quake Basketball. Jump off of stuff or just do trick shots in general with the grenade launcher to get it into pots. “Rocketjump, 360, nothing but gibbs!”

    Final Fantasy Tactics: Two that we did a lot was ‘Only Orlandu’ which if you played the game Orlandu was way too strong so we’d use him to fight and kill everything. The other we did was ‘Just the Basics’ which was to only use the main character and those you could hire in town. You couldn’t use any special characters like Agrias, Orlandu, Beowulf, etc.

    Turok for X-Box. Knife only. Terrible game but only using the knife actually made it easier.

    I am a huge proponent of knife only in FPS games when I can (I was known as The Shoveler in Day of Defeat). I loved doing it in BF2142 and it worked awesome in CoD with all the right perks, of course.

  11. This probably isn’t the best video of it, but I’ve played a few versions of Halo baseball.

    I also play a lot of Left4Dead 2 and, if we are destroying the other team we will run in waves of two to give the other team a fighting chance. Two people will leave the safe room and try to make it to the end (or a point where you need all the players) then the other two will run. Not really a “game within the game” but more of a handicap.

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