Hi folks, long time lurker/first time poster! (I’m “puff” on the Discord; I suppose I should change my name here to match.)
I started watching a longplay of the first .hack game recently (a series I have spent almost zero time with) and I am fascinated by the functional frame of the game — without spoiling anything, you play as a person who themselves plays an MMO, and the functional areas of the game include not only the MMO itself, but an out-of-client chat board, as well as a “Log Out” link which, when you choose it, has your character stop playing for awhile.
Some aspects of this framing are familiar; the chatboard reminded me a lot of the Balamb Garden messageboard you read through at the very beginning of FFVIII, for example. Her Story or Digital: A Love Story have you play as someone unseen who, through you, manipulates an interface (though they aren’t playing a game). But the explicit “game about playing a game” nature of .hack has been really striking to me, especially as someone who themselves plays A LOT of an MMO. (Shoutout to the Malboro FFXIV server!!!)
Are there any other games y’all can think of where you play as a character who is themselves playing a game? Do those games take advantage of that framing to do interesting things (e.g., moving the plot forward when the character elects to take a break from playing)? Are there other not-strictly-game-in-game “interface games” unmentioned here that you wanna shout out? I’m all ears!!