A game is an activity that involves skill or knowledge and follows fixed rules in order to compete against an opponent or solve a puzzle. It is often characterized by its tools (the objects used to play), the way they are used and the goals of the players. Games can be played alone, with friends, family or colleagues; by amateurs or professional athletes; on the internet, at home, in school and even in space. The word game is also used in non-game contexts, for example when referring to competitive sports such as tennis or golf or to activities that require a high level of concentration and skill such as playing chess.
There are many different ways to define game, however most definitions include the element of competition and the requirement for rules. Some include the concept of a set of objectives, and some also describe the way in which the game is played, for instance in terms of time or location. Others focus on the interaction between the player and the game and its rules, as well as the value of the activity.
The classic definition of a game includes the six features listed below:
In addition to the basic concept of competition, most games also include an element of chance. This can be achieved in various ways, including through random number generators. This is important as it allows the game to be compared to other games, and ensures that no one player has an advantage over another player.
It is also necessary to have a goal that the players must reach in order for the game to be deemed successful. This can be an objective such as winning, or it can be a subjective goal such as having fun. It is also important that the positive outcomes are more difficult to reach than the negative ones, as this increases the challenge and makes the game more interesting.
Unlike toys, which provide unrestricted free play, games have a set of fixed rules. These may be written by the designers or, more commonly, by the players themselves. These rules usually include a time-keeping system, the rights and responsibilities of the players, scoring techniques, preset boundaries and each player’s goals. It is also usual that the rules are subject to change and this may create a new version of the game.
There are also rules governing how the game is played, for example whether or not it is allowed to be cheated and how much effort the players must put in to win. This is a critical part of the gameplay as it ensures that each player is fully engaged in the game and cannot be distracted by other activities such as watching TV or studying. It also tends to encourage an attachment of the player to the outcome, since they are partly responsible for the result.
A game can be played with a variety of different tools, but the most common are board and video games. These can be complex and involving, such as association football or Monopoly, or simple and easy to play, like connect four or tic tac toe.