What are games?

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Matty(Posted April) [#1]
This is more a philosophical question.

What is a game as such? Or rather, what are the key features of an electronic game at their most basic level?

I'm wondering and exploring the idea as I play a bunch of different mobile games, of varying quality and game play loops that they are something like this:

A feedback loop where the user provides input to the application and is rewarded with meaningful responses that relate to a theme suitable for 'entertainment', typically with aesthetically pleasing visuals and audio as a reward.

So if we take some basic games from years gone by:


At its heart it is a feedback loop as the player provides input (key presses/joystick presses) in a meaningful manner that provides feedback (noise of gobbling dots, score increase, killed by ghost, eaten ghost, noise of 'power pack', level completion)

Space Invaders

A feedback loop of providing input (left/right/fire) that results in (kill alien, killed by alien, kill ufo, score increase, level cleared)

If we take a slightly more complex game:

Civilisation n

A feedback loop of providing inputs (lots of inputs) which result in (lots of meaningful consequences with aesthetically pleasing visuals and audio).


degac(Posted April) [#2]
A game is something that distract you, enjoy yourself, allow participation/collaboration/anagonism (any sport with 2 or more person involved), stimulate your brain (speed, sound, colours, rithm)

The game has not a 'final use' defined: it should played just to pass a little time, or to learn something, or to create something (like a sand castle or a game!)
Even pets play to hunting.

So, from these points, an electronic game could generate many possible solutions.

Consider that the concept of 'game' is - quite often - individualistic: some people like soccer, other golf, other both, other chess, other play cards etc.
Finding an unique solution is a non-sense.

Today many people thing that a 'game' MUST have good graphics/story etc... but these are supporting elements to the game itself.
Asteroids has elementary graphics, just some sounds but the 'engagement' level was surely higher than Crash Candy!

Pete Rigz(Posted April) [#3]
One hypothesis: Games stimulate the same evolutionary need to overcome daily survival challenges but with 0 risk (except when you play so long you die from dehydration!). They provide the same psychological relief/joy as successfully finding food or out running a predator.

It's interesting that many games closely resemble life, death and resource collecting scenarios. Sports seem to be simulating more towards survival of the fittest but still a similar thing.

Naughty Alien(Posted April) [#4]
..what is a game? I came to conclusion that, its one of the most original ways to waste tremendous amount of time, while feeling that you achieving something of importance, is present..

markcw(Posted April) [#5]
I would define a game as an arrangement that requires input from a "gamer" so that a result can be obtained that determines a success or failure and then the process is repeated, all to hopefully provide enjoyment for the gamer.

John G(Posted April) [#6]
Games: Fun time wasters.

Neuro(Posted April) [#7]
Eh...i would just say games are basically a form of activity that challenges you to accomplish something.

Henri(Posted April) [#8]
I believe games are evolutionary maintenance mechanism for human brain to stay in peak condition. Bigger the brains, bigger the games.