Mr Speaker

Semantic game making

Atari HTML 5 logoHTML5 means one thing, and one thing only: games! Okay, that's not true at all. Not even close, but heck - we are seeing stacks of fantastic games emerge, and the buzz that surrounds even the more mediocre efforts is considerable. So where's the love in the HTML5 spec for us game makers? When it comes to defining the appropriate uses for web technologies it's definitely a case of Internet. Serious Business.

<section> and <aside>? Sure thing. <header> and <footer>? Naturally. You can't outline your corporate goals and detail your mission statement without those babies. <datagrid> , <meter>, and <input type="range"> sliders? Dave in accounts will be over the moon.

So where are the tags for us, the dreamers of the dreams? Not good enough for your official looking specifications, right? Second class citizens.

Sure, you throw us a <canvas> tag - but that's hardly "web" is it. You let us into your precious DOM, but only in a concealed holding cell: a random element to dump the entire contents of our games in. Might as well have called it <object-v2>.

Activision Pitfall badge

Even the Atari2600 from 1979 knew that providing a few simple "tags" was all that was needed to create a plethora of fantastic genre-inventing games: You had two "player" objects, two "missile" objects, and one "ball" object. That. was. it. Yet still we ended up with Pitfall II!

So how about it, W3C and WHATWG? I'm not looking for the <player>, <missile>, and <ball> tags - just a <sprite> and <screen> will do, so the browser makers will know to hardware back them for us.

And more importantly: give us a couple of token tags and we'll no longer feel like internet outcasts - banished to Java and Flash cages. Finally we could hold our heads high and proudly state "Our work is now nearly as important as <kbd>: an element that is used for indicating the text to be entered by the user."


  1. I think that HTML5 spec allows you to make your own tag so you can do that.
    But having a common and standard way to describe sprites should be great to easily change a JS framework without rewriting the sprite part of code ;)
    By the way, Game tags are maybe too specific for web specification.

    Sunday, May 15, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Permalink
  2. I dunno, I reckon that as far as it goes, HTML5 DOM is good for DOM. I did a leetle proof-of-concept coffeescript animation – – and was stoked with how easy it is to try stuff out with DOM nodes. None of this double-buffering, for example, animations just happen by magic, click detection and event progagation thrown in for free, which is lovely for a quick prototype, if not the zippiest thing in the world. I suppose SVG would be yet awesomer, although it seems even slower as a rule.

    HTML5 has so many things for plain old HTML rendering, with the transparency, the gradients, the rounded corners… If you can make your shape out of squares and ellipses you’re OK. the thing it’s missing, i reckon, is a triangular div. That’s all I want, for a whole world of arbitrary dom-accessible polygons to open up before me, free from teh SVG ghetto and the canvas sluggishness, and we’d get the HTML5 version of Another World going on

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink
  3. Yeah, I’m a big fan of the regular-ol-DOM for games: especially if you can integrate CSS transforms in your animation engine.

    Ha, yeah… <polygon>… THERE is the tag I want!

    Though when it comes to Another World in HTML5, the unstoppable Gil Megidish is one step (actually several) steps ahead of us: Another World, on canvas (no <polygon> tags though).

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Permalink
  4. My first (non-)game!

    Oh, Look — it’s a Circle!

    Or something similar? I’m not a big fan of SVG, but it has it’s uses I’m sure of (graphs?).

    I was going to design my whole homepage using SVG+HTML5+CSS3, but then I could not view it on an iPad2 (neither inline SVG, or as external pictures) — they just turned out like squares with an red × in them — so I scrapped the whole Idea…

    I’m still going for redesigning my homepage, but I’ll describe the vector graphics in some special JSOn variant and use Canvases to draw them (animated) while they load in — I’m sure it’ll look splendid, whenever I get time.

    Now, I’m going to take myself time to drink some tea — and I finally found your feed (^-^>

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  5. Meh, your comment-form scrapped my tags [×_×]

    Saturday, October 29, 2011 at 9:11 am | Permalink
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