A game is an activity involving competition, usually between two or more people. A game may be any kind of recreational activity, from tug of war to association football or a complex board game such as go. It can also refer to a computer game, role-playing games or any form of competitive activity formally described using mathematical methods such as game theory.
Game theory is an approach to analyzing competitive situations with multiple interested parties. It is based on the assumption that all players are utility-maximizing rational actors who have complete knowledge of the rules and possible outcomes. The aim of game theory is to find the best strategy for each player given these assumptions. This theory is used to analyze both real-world economics and other domains such as politics and military strategy.
A key element of games is the notion of conflict between a desired outcome and the means used to achieve it. Most games involve some amount of skill, luck or a combination of both, and the rules shape the nature of this conflict. In contrast, non-game activities tend not to be as interactive and do not require much effort from the players (e.g. reading a book).
The term game can also be used as an adjective, meaning “willing or eager to participate in a particular activity”: “He is game for another round of volleyball.” The word can also be used in reference to sports teams or athletes: “That team is definitely game for a championship run.”
Research has shown that gaming can provide cognitive growth and help with skills such as multitasking, making decisions and spatial reasoning. Some studies have even found that surgeons who play video games before operating on patients perform laparoscopic and robotic surgery more quickly and effectively.
Many participants reported that they gamed as a way to fill idle time after returning home from school or work. Others said that they used games as a way to cope with stress, depression or other negative emotions. However, these participants were often aware that their use of gaming was a temporary fix that did not address the root cause of their problems.
One common theme in the interviews was that some of the push factors for gaming included feeling bored, wanting to relax or being socially isolated. Some of the pull factors were sleeping, eating or bathing. This led some of the participants to engage in behaviors such as skipping meals, not taking care of their hygiene or neglecting physical bodily pain so they could continue to game.
Although some participants described gaming as a way to interact with others, most of the interviewees reported that they played solo games. These are often referred to as single-player games or story-based games and have a narrative component that guides the player through a series of challenges. These games can be played on a computer or console and are usually paid for upfront at the point of purchase.