What's in a Game?

Many a person has tried to define what is a game and, say, not an activity or work. As it goes with definitions, I find these discussions not very useful as the people trying to create a definition ultimately fail to do so by excluding or including some aspect or another to which others inevitably object.

Yet, the discussion itself can be seen as a game. There are participants, there is an objective and there is an artificial ‘arena’ of sorts that sets the parameters within which the participants try to meet the said objective. And most importantly - it’s fun!

Now, ‘fun’ is another vague concept about which many can’t seem to agree. If I’m speaking strictly about the realm of games, games that constitute fun for someone may be a tedious waste of time for another. Even if two players agree on a game being fun, their interpretation of what constitutes that fun might be very different. One might find the strategy engaging while for the other it's the social aspect. It’s all very subjective. This is why I don’t put too much stock into definitions.

Games are a means for people to get together and explore new ideas.

One thing I do know. I love everything about games. I love to look at them, play them (of course) but I especially love to design and innovate them, think and theorize about them, and apply them as a means for people to get together and explore new ideas. Because that’s what games do so well: create a safe environment for diverse-thinking and feeling individuals to come together for a short moment of time and agree to artificially pursue the same goal.

A game, to me, is an activity that runs along with a set of rules in an attempt to engage players in an emotional, intellectual, and/or physically stimulating way, reach a certain goal, and share a pre-determined experience. Well… now I’ve gone and defined what a game is, after all.

As the main designer of User Experiences and Communication at Nadulpan, I employ my knowledge and experience of game theory and will be sharing these thoughts over time with you. I hope you'll join me. To get you started, I'd like for you to think about your favorite game and specifically: what was the experience you enjoyed the most when playing that game?

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