A Game By Any Other Name… Defining a Game
What’s in a name? that which we call a game, By any other name would play as fun?
Hold up, wait a minute! How could I blabber on about gamification without even defining what a game is? You might say, “Silly goose, everyone knows what a game is.” You might be able to identify a game by virtue of its fun factor, but what qualities make a game, a game? Let’s take an example and break it down.
Is Tug of War a Game?
Everyone will probably agree that Tug of War is a simple game. First you need a rope and two teams, right? Then you place the rope on the ground, unfurled and straight. In the middle, there is a real or imaginary line drawn. Equal numbers of players (usually 8 per side) aligned themselves with the ends of the rope on each side of the center line. When the command is given to pull, each team pulls in the opposite direction to get the other team to cross the center line. There are variations on these rules and more formal ones can be found the Tug of War Federation rules page.
I’m not keen on using Wikipedia as a scholarly resource, but it does have a nice definition of what 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.” Games include the following components:
Using our Tug of War example, the goal is to get the other team to cross the center line to prove which team is stronger. Our rules include using a certain number of equal players on each side, defining the center line etc. The challenge of game is overcoming the obstacle of the other team’s strength. Interaction doesn’t necessarily refer to interaction between players even though in this example this occurs. Interaction or choices refers to a player’s feedback from interacting with other players or acting upon game tools.
Another good but very general definition of a game by Kevin Maroney is “a game is a form of play with goals and structure.” Simple and easily expressed; however, it folds rules, challenge and choices into “structure.” Later when we talk about what makes a good game, we’ll want to have these different aspects separate for evaluation.
Watch a Video: Popcorn Time
Check out this TEDtalk by Will Wright, creator of Spore, the Sims and Sim City. He talks about the birth of his game Spore and how he believes games can change the world. Can you identify the four (4) game components of Spore we mentioned previously in this post? I know, it’s a little long but totally worth it! Drop us a comment or two about your definition of game or your thoughts on gaming changing the world. We’d love to hear from you. Until next time, keep on gaming!
Posted on October 23, 2013, in Gamification and tagged challenge, choices, definition, Electronic Arts, game elements, games, interaction, rules, SimCity, Sims, Spore, tug of war, Wikipedia, Will Wright. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.