Game Definition

Did you ever wonder what exactly a game is?

A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements. However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be work or art.

Key components of games are goals, rules, challenge, and interaction. Games generally involve mental or physical stimulation, and often both. Many games help develop practical skills, serve as a form of exercise, or otherwise perform an educational, simulational, or psychological role.

Serious Games are typically defined as:

  • - having well defined learning goals and
  • - promote development of important strategies and skills to increase cognitive and intellectural abilities of the learners.
  • - have important elements contributing to educational values of games are sensual stimuli, fantasy, challenge and curiosity (desire to know or learn).
  • Used to reach an outcome beyond the game itself.

Adrian Smith of Ennova draws interesting parallels between the laws of learning and games.

  1. Game Space - Ordinary life is temporarily suspended and replace with the game environment. Palys obeying the rules enter the game space and engage in behaviour that might otherwise be risky or uncomfortable.
  2. Interaction Rules - Winthin the game space the palys abide by a set of rules for interaction. The rules define the constraints of the game space.
  3. Artefacts - All games relay on specialised artefacts that hold information either through content or position in the game space.
  4. Goals - Players must understand that the goals of the game and how the game will end. Sometimes games end once the goal is achieved and sometimes when a time limit is reached.

Earlier this week, I discovered a great talk by Naval War College’s Dr. Doug Ducharme for the MORS Wargaming Community of Practice on best practices for wargaming in support of Course of Action (COA) analysis.

I found Dr. Ducharme's presentation insightful and thought provoking.He offered concrete guidance for game designers to improve their practice. His suggestions mirror my own experiences, and serves as a useful set of guidelines for new game developers. However, there were two points that I want to explore more: Ducharme’s distinction between educational and analytical gaming, and his distinction between free and rigid adjudication.

Ducharme argues that all games are experiential. What differentiates educational and analytical games is whether the goal of the game is to change the participants, or to change our base of knowledge. This definition is related, but somewhat different from what I’ve used in my own work. In past work, I’ve defined the types of game purposes the chart below:

References: Wikipedia, Google, Aalto University, Ennova

Tags : gamesdefined

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