Before we dive into the intricacies of making a game, we need to be able to define what is a game. At the same time, we need to question how is a game different from play.

Define “Game”

There are different ways in which to define the word game and here are just a few:

  • An activity among two or more independent decision-makers seeking to achieve their objectives in some limiting context.
  • A form of art in which participants, called players, make decisions to manage resources through game tokens in the pursuit of a goal.
  • A system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome.
  • A type of play (activity) that takes place in a pretend reality, in which the participants(s) follow a set of rules to achieve at least one goal.

Noticing any similarities?

Games require a goal or objective, rules that limit what you can and cannot do, and finally an outcome resolving into a winner and loser.

Play and Pretend

Play can easily be defined as taking part in an enjoyable activity for the sake of amusement. Simply playing around is not the same as playing a game unless the requirements for a game exist, which are goals, rules, and outcomes.

History of Games

Throughout the recorded history of the human species, we find evidence of both games and music. Interestingly enough, when taking part in both these activities we refer to it as playing a game or playing music.

Another aspect of play is to pretend. To pretend is to create a fictional reality in the mind. A certain amount of buy-in by the participants i.e. players in this fictional reality is required to adhere to the rules of the game.

Take the game of soccer, for example, one of the main rules is that all players, save for the goalie, are not allowed to pick up the ball with their hands. In reality, anyone who is physically capable would be able to pick up the ball with their hands, but in this fictional reality, this act is forbidden.

Immersive Realities

One way to ensure players buy into the fictional reality of the game is to further immersive them through storytelling and graphics. Therefore, video games can appear somewhat more addictive than physical games, because it is so easy to get caught up in the fictional world of the game.

Interactive Challenges

As we mentioned earlier playing does not always relate to playing a game. It depends on how we relate to the item we are playing with.

For example, if there is interaction but no challenge, then it is just a toy. If there is a challenge but no interaction, then this is considered a puzzle.

It is the combination of both interaction and challenge that distinguishes something as a game, and because of this, games are sometimes referred to as interactive challenges.

Video Games

So far, we have been examining the word game as it applies to all games in general, but what about video games?

No one knows exactly where the term “video game” first originated, however, it is speculated that it was probably introduced by the media and took off from there. Before this these games were referred to by their creators as electronic games, arcades, and computer games.

Today the term video game is synonymous with any game that is played on a “video” screen and requires some sort of input device.

Next-Generation Gaming

Video games as we know them have constantly evolved from early arcade machines to simple text-based computer games to the graphically rich games played on fully dedicated gaming systems that we enjoy today.

However, video games are currently going through another phase of evolution with the following types of games:

  • Augmented Reality or simply AR games are a real-world view of one’s environment in which certain elements have been “augmented”. Players typically interact with these elements.
  • Virtual Reality or VR games are a three-dimensional environment in which the player can interact similarly to that of their environment, allowing for a fully immersive effect.
  • XR games refer to any virtual reality, augmented reality, or combination of the two, often called mixed reality games. Think of the “X” in XR simply as a placeholder for any reality-manipulating game.

Games in Our Life

Earlier we said that history has shown that humans have always played games, and nothing seems to be changing that. According to the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the organization dedicated to serving the business and public affairs of the video game industry, 65% of all American adults play video games and 75% of all American households have at least one game in their home, according to data from 2019.

It also might surprise you to know that the average age of a gamer is 33 years old and that 46% of all gamers are women. It might also surprise you to know that, more adult women play games than boys under 18. The increase in female games can somewhat be attributed to the rise of smartphones and the abundance of casual games available on that platform.

Now think about your gaming background. Would you consider yourself a gamer?

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