The Definition of a Game


A game is a structured form of play undertaken for entertainment or fun. Some games also perform an educational, simulational or psychological function. Games can be both mental and physical, and can require either skill or luck. Games can be competitive or non-competitive, and may include the use of an objective rule set (such as chess) or a subjective one (such as hide-and-seek). The rules of some games are more complex than others. Many games involve the use of a toy or piece of equipment, such as a ball, dice, cards, a board and pieces, or a computer. Some games are interactive, and require players to interact with each other or the environment (such as tag, hide-and-seek, Monopoly, or a video game).

Often, the distinction between games and other activities is made on whether a specific activity has real-world consequences: so war is not a game; gambling for money is only a game until you lose all your money; falling in love is not a game until it becomes an addiction. However, the concept of a game is more flexible than this, and it has been used in a variety of activities including work (such as professional sports or games), art (such as jigsaw puzzles) and education.

The definition of a game can vary significantly depending on the culture, and is constantly evolving as new examples are created and social norms change. Therefore, it is impossible to create a useful definition of a game that does not take into account previous examples. This is a similar challenge to the task of defining words, which are not as tightly defined as concepts or ideas and are subject to constant change.

Creating a video game requires a large team of people to design and develop the game. Game designers typically start by drawing out the basic outlines of the system on paper before moving onto the more detailed computer designs. Creating a video game is often an iterative process, and a team will often test various ideas on themselves by playing and testing the game in their own environments. This allows them to make the necessary adjustments and changes before releasing a finished product. This process can take years to complete, and is often very expensive. Ultimately, video games can be quite addictive and even harmful to the well-being of gamers. While attempts have been made to regulate the content of video games, the industry has resisted calls for stricter controls. Instead, a number of groups have called for game companies to share anonymized player data to assist with scientific research into the effects of video games on human behaviour and well-being. Despite these efforts, few studies have been completed on the subject. This is partly due to the difficulty in gathering enough anonymized data from the large number of gamers. However, some games companies have begun to cooperate with scientists and are allowing researchers to study their products. This is a step in the right direction.