Haunted House

Origo is a funnyface (0,0)

What is a Game?

Posted by Gasten on September 18, 2006

Ok, that question might be a little too big to answer with one post. I hope I’ll even figure it out. Now, I’m gonna write a little post about how I define a game.

It’s pretty usual that people who use to talk about game, writes games, and reads game theory have some sort of definition of what a game is. Outspoken, or not, it is there. I have one too, but it’s a little …. softer than they usually are. Definitions are often very complex, and can take several paragraphs to explain. I can’t agree with that. It’s just silly. I good definition is a short definition, and I can live with letting some “game-like” things be called games, as I have to do in my definition.

My definition is short and simple, just as most of my games. My definition is:

A game is a game if the player(s) are doing an activity with at least one factor which they can’t control.

That weren’t hard, right? I could add “[…] an activity of which’s rules are understanded by everyone and with […]”, but no. That would put games like Fluxx (which is one of my favourite games) at risk of not being accepted as a game. And I would like to stay open for new types of games without any preset rules (like the named Fluxx, and Nomic).

So, what were I worried about? What activities are this letting in the game sphere? Patience (you know, the one old ladies play? Solitaire? Please don’t super-flame the comments for this!!). But I have to think it’s Ok. There isn’t something else you can do if you want to be simple.

Just a note to everyone who think’s I’m plain stupid because of that definition: with “factors which they can’t control” I don’t necessarily mean dice, cards or any other randomness-mechanism. I understand that there is many, many, many games without any randomness (I am, in fact, a big fan of those) I mean anything. Other players, tricky rules, tricky gameboards, and so on. I do think Chess is a game.

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2 Responses to “What is a Game?”

  1. Genesis said

    Doesn’t that mean that, for example, war is a game? Or maybe suicide? Or how about lighting a lamp? You don’t have any control over if the light switch works, if the lightbulb is broken, etc. Seems to me there isn’t much in this world which isn’t a game, according to your definition. To be honest, I can’t think of anything where there’s no factor that you can’t control. Life itself, by your definition, is a game, filled with other game. Since your definition defines everything, it doesn’t define anything.

  2. Gasten said

    Well… Tha backside of simple, really :)

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