Reading Response 1

1. After reading this article, the most accurate definition of a game (in my opinion) is defined by definition 1 and 8 by David Parlett and Elliot Avedon/Brian Sutton-Smith respectively. For David Parlett’s definition, he splits the definition into “ends” and “means” categories; a game is a contest to achieve an objective using a set amount of equipment and rules leading to a winning situation. This definition treats the definition of “game” as a subcomponent of “play,” as it is assuming that a game is only defined by reaching a goal through a set of rules. For example, merely playing basketball can be integrated to just a couple of friends exercising with a hoop and a ball (evident when someone asks you “Let’s play some basketball!”). On the other hand, an official game of basketball almost always involves a goal involving teams that want to reach a goal- to be the best basketball team. In games like these, rules and procedures are applied in order to ensure that the game is played properly, which highly involve several penalties and fouls.
Elliot and Brian’s definition is very similar to that of David Parlett’s, but states instead that a game is a contest between powers that exercise control systems. Again here, Elliot and Brian define a “game” by determining whether or not it is confined by rules. Playing a game most often does require a player to exercise his or her power to do something as opposed to not putting in any effort. The most effortless game I can think about is probably a 3 by 3 version of Tic-Tac-Toe, which has an extremely limited amount of possibilities that make the game very easy to play and even win. Even then, a player has to think a little bit when playing 3 by 3 Tic-Tac-Toe.

2. To define a game, I usually put my own perspective into another person’s expectations on what defines it. To me, a game is defined by:

a. Having specific procedures and rules.
b. Containing a definite “start” and “end.”
c. Interaction between one element of power and another.
It is absolutely not necessary to have fun while playing a game. In fact, some games may contradict the idea of playing for fun, since, to me, the definition of play can extend out as much as living life itself as a game. A rather crude example of actually playing a game with a definition so big is a regular war- two armies compete for a goal in exchange for hundreds of thousands of lives.

3. Costikyan’s definition of a game are reasonable in terms of his point of view, although I did not agree with what he thought didn’t define a game. I disagree that a game is not a puzzle because a puzzle also contains a set of rules and a goal. He argues that puzzles are static and that games change with the actions of a player; however, puzzles may very well change with the actions of a player. Costikyan also argues that a toy is only interactive, whereas a game has a goal. Again here, a toy may definitely contain a goal, like role-playing between action figurines fighting against each other with a victory and a defeat. He also defines a game by having several possible outcomes as opposed to a linear story. However, just because a game is not linear does not mean it doesn’t have a story- a game may not be a story, but can in fact act as several. I would agree with Costikyan’s point on how games require participation, as you cannot play or even define a game without putting any effort into it.
Costikyan does a very good job on defining specific components of a game though. One of these components- Color, adds a very important value to most existing games and game design. Color can easily be compared to the theme of a game, like pinball in outer space (Spaceman Cadet) or zombieland chess. Role playing and decision making are critical when playing a game too, although these components can also be applied when just “playing” something.

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