Game

Tug of war is an easily organized, impromptu game that requires little equipment.
Tug of war is an easily organized, impromptu game that requires little equipment.
Paul Cézanne - The Card Players, 1895
Paul Cézanne - The Card Players, 1895

A game is a structured or semi-structured activity, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes also used as educational tools. (The term "game" is also used to describe simulation of various activities e.g., for the purposes of training, analysis or prediction, etc., see "Game (simulation)".) Games are generally distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more concerned with the expression of ideas. However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games may also be considered work and/or art. Key components of games are goals, rules, challenge, and interactivity. Games generally involve mental or physical stimulation, and sometimes both. Many games help develop practical skills, serve as a form of exercise, or otherwise perform an educational, simulational or psychological role.

Known to have been played as far back as prehistoric times, Games are a universal part of the human experience, for all cultures, genders and ages.

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Definitions

Ludwig Wittgenstein was probably the first to give serious thought to the definition of the word. In his Philosophical Investigations,[1] Wittgenstein demonstrated that the elements of games, such as play, rules, and competition, all fail to adequately define what games are. He subsequently argued that the concept "game" could not be contained by any single definition, but that games must be looked at as a series of definitions that share a "family resemblance" to one another.

Computer game designer Chris Crawford attempted to define the term game[2] using a series of dichotomies:

  1. Creative expression is art if made for its own beauty, and entertainment if made for money. (This is the least rigid of his definitions. Crawford acknowledges that he often chooses a creative path over conventional business wisdom, which is why he rarely produces sequels to his games.)
  2. A piece of entertainment is a plaything if it is interactive. Movies and books are cited as examples of non-interactive entertainment.
  3. If no goals are associated with a plaything, it is a toy. (Crawford notes that by his definition, (a) a toy can become a game element if the player makes up rules, and (b) The Sims and SimCity are toys, not games.) If it has goals, a plaything is a challenge.
  4. If a challenge has no “active agent against whom you compete,” it is a puzzle; if there is one, it is a conflict. (Crawford admits that this is a subjective test. Some games with noticeably algorithmic artificial intelligence can be played as puzzles; these include the patterns used to evade ghosts in Pac-Man.)
  5. Finally, if the player can only outperform the opponent, but not attack them to interfere with their performance, the conflict is a competition. (Competitions include racing and figure skating.) However, if attacks are allowed, then the conflict qualifies as a game.

Crawford's definition may thus be rendered as: an interactive, goal-oriented activity, active agents to play against, which any player (including active agents) could interfere one another, and which is designed to make money for the creator.

Crawford also notes (ibid.) several other definitions:

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Gameplay elements and classification

Games can be characterized by "what the player does."[2] This is often referred to as gameplay, a term that arose among computer game designers in the 1980s but as of 2007 is starting to see use in reference to games of other forms. Major key elements identified in this context are tools and rules which define the overall context of game and which in turn produce skill, strategy, and chance.[clarify]

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Tools

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Games are often classified by the components required to play them (e.g. a ball, cards, a board and pieces or a computer). In places where the use of leather is well established, the ball has been a popular game piece throughout recorded history, resulting in a worldwide popularity of ball games such as rugby, basketball, football, cricket, tennis and volleyball. Other tools are more idiosyncratic to a certain region. Many countries in Europe, for instance, have unique standard decks of playing cards. Other games such as chess may be traced primarily through the development and evolution of its game pieces.

Many game tools are tokens, meant to represent other things. A token may be a pawn on a board, play money, or an intangible item such as a point scored.

Games such as hide-and-seek or tag do not utilise any obvious tool. Rather its interactivity is defined by the environment. Games with the same or similar rules may have different gameplay if the environment is altered. For example, hide-and-seek in a school building differs from the same game in a park; an auto race can be radically different depending on the track or street course, even with the same cars.

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Rules

Whereas games are often characterized by their tools, they are often defined by their rules. While rules are subject to variations and changes, enough change in the rules usually results in a "new" game.[citation needed] For instance, baseball can be played with "real" baseballs or with whiffleballs. However, if the players decide to play with only three bases, they are arguably playing a different game.[citation needed]

Rules generally determine turn order, the rights and responsibilities of the players, and each player’s goals. Player rights may include when they may spend resources or move tokens. Common win conditions are being first to amass a certain quota of points or tokens (as in Settlers of Catan), having the greatest number of tokens at the end of the game (as in Monopoly), or some relationship of one’s game tokens to those of one’s opponent (as in chess's checkmate).

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Ludwig Wittgenstein argued that language is a game consisting of tokens governed by rough-and-ready rules that arise by convention and are not strict.[1]

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Skill, strategy, and chance

A game’s tools and rules will result in its requiring skill, strategy, chance or a combination thereof, and are classified accordingly.

Games of skill include games of physical skill, such as wrestling, tug of war, hopscotch and target shooting, and games of mental skill such as checkers and chess. Games of strategy include checkers, chess, go, arimaa, and tic-tac-toe, and often require special equipment to play them. Games of chance include gambling games (blackjack, mah jong, roulette etc.), as well as snakes and ladders and rock, paper, scissors; most require equipment such as cards or dice. However, most games contain two or all three of these elements. For example, American football and baseball involve both physical skill and strategy while poker and Monopoly combine strategy and chance. It is often the interaction of these elements that makes gameplay enjoyable.

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Anthropology of games

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Games are intimately connected to culture and often have some social aspect. For example, games can be characterized in terms of the intended occasion of play: party games are played at parties, and family games with families. This characterization may also serve as a tool of exclusion. A drinking game is rarely appropriate for children, for instance, and polo requires significant investment both in terms of money and leisure time, making it a game of the upper class.

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Animals and games

Domestic animals have been observed playing simpler games such as tag, tug-of-war, and fetch. Whether this is due to instinct or conscious choice, and whether the animals are capable of the strategic thinking to interfere with their opposition, questions whether this activity is actually a game.

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Types of games

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Field games (sports)

Association football is a popular sport worldwide.
Association football is a popular sport worldwide.

Sports are arguably the most popular type of game.[citation needed] Many sports require special equipment and dedicated playing fields, leading to the involvement of a community much larger than the group of players. A city or town may set aside such resources for the benefit of the young, as in Little League.

Popular sports may have spectators who are entertained just by watching games. A community will often align itself with a local sports team that supposedly represents it (even if the team or most of its players only recently moved in); they often align themselves against their opponents or have traditional rivalries. The concept of fandom began with sports fans.

Stanley Fish cited[citation needed] the balls and strikes of baseball as a clear example of social construction, the operation of rules on the game's tools. While the strike zone target is governed by the rules of the game, it epitomizes the category of things that exist only because people have agreed to treat them as real. No pitch is a ball or a strike until it has been labeled as such by an appropriate authority, the plate umpire, whose judgment on this matter cannot be challenged within the current game.

Certain competitive sports, such as racing and gymnastics, are not games by definitions such as Crawford’s (see above, despite the inclusion of many in the Olympic Games) because competitors do not interact with their opponents.

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Computer and video games

A computer game or video game is a computer- or microprocessor-controlled game. Computers can create virtual tools to be used in a game, such as cards or dice.

A computer or video game uses one or more input devices, typically a button/joystick combination (on arcade games); a keyboard, mouse and/or trackball (computer games); or a controller or a motion sensitive tool. (console games). More esoteric devices such as paddle controllers have also been used for input. In computer games, the evolution of user interfaces from simple keyboard to mouse, joystick or joypad has profoundly changed the nature of game development.[citation needed]

It has been suggested that any game can be emulated as a computer game.[citation needed] Because computer games are simulations, every conceviable tool, environment or rule can be created.(dubious assertion) Whether or not the computer emulation possesses the same gameplay as the original game is an open question.[citation needed]

In more open-ended computer simulations, notably those designed by Will Wright, the player may be free to do whatever they like within the confines of the virtual universe. Due to the lack of goals or opposition, it is disputed whether these programs are games or toys. (Crawford specifically mentions Wright’s SimCity as an example of a toy.[2])

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Board games

Parcheesi is a board game originating in India.
Parcheesi is a board game originating in India.

Board games use as a central tool a board on which the players' status, resources, and progress are tracked using physical tokens. Most also involve dice and/or cards.

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Card games

Card games use as a central tool a deck of cards. The cards may be a standard Anglo-American (52-card) deck of playing cards (such as Go Fish or Crazy Eights, or a deck specific to the individual game (such as Set). Uno and Rook are examples of games that were originally played with a standard deck and have since been commercialized with customized decks.

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Role playing games

Role-playing games, often abbreviated as RPGs, are a type of game in which the participants assume the roles of characters and collaboratively create stories and world setting. Examples of computer roleplaying games are World of Warcraft, Guildwars, and the Final Fantasy and Elder Scrolls series. Pen-and-paper roleplaying games include, for example, Dungeons & Dragons and GURPS.

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Single-player games

Single-player games are unique in respect to the type of challenges a player faces. Unlike a game with multiple players competing with or against each other to reach the game's goal, a one-player game is a battle solely against an element of the environment (an artificial opponent), against one's own skills, against time or against chance. Playing with a yo-yo or playing tennis against a wall is not generally recognised as playing a game due to the lack of any formidable opposition. This is not true, though, for a single-player computer game where the computer provides opposition.

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See also

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Lists

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Related topics

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External links

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Notes and references

  1. 1.0 1.1 Wittgenstein, Ludwig (1953/2002). Philosophical Investigations. ISBN 0-631-23127-7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Crawford, Chris (2003). Chris Crawford on Game Design. New Riders. ISBN 0-88134-117-7.
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