I recently enlisted in the „Introduction to Game Design“ course at edX.org that started on October 22, 2014. (You can do it too! It is free and seems to be great fun).
I thought I would take some time to discuss a bit of the stuff I learned during the first week.
The first question asked was „What is a game?“ Take a second. Think about that question. And you will recognize that is quite a hard thing to point out what exactly a game is. The course showed several game industry veterans – and they all had problems defining what a game is.
Of course – games are about playing. But game and play are things that are tied in their meaning very close together – defining game with the word play is almost like one of the basic rules of definitions: „Don’t explain a word with itself“. So what more is there to games? There are players or to avoid play let’s use the term participants. You usually play games in your free time, to enjoy yourself. And there is this thing about rules that are followed by all the players playing the game. Games are also about interaction – compared to other free time activites that you just consume like reading a book or watching a movie the participants can actually influence the outcome of the game.
Hard to pinpoint – but I will work with this definition for now: „Games are experiences people take part in for enjoyment that have a defined set of rules that is followed by all participants. The participants interact and influence the game experience in some way.“ I guess this will probably be as close to a definition as I can come up with.
Picture Source: „Red Dice“ by ThreeOak of FreeImages.com