Reading Response 1

1. In Salen & Zimmerman’s “Rules of Play” the definition of game that appealed to me the most was that of David Parlett. It seemed to be the simplest and most straight forward, at least in my mind. I like the way he uses dueling properties in his definition. First he breaks games into formal and informal. I don’t completely agree with this aspect as I’d generally say that informal games aren’t really games at all but are rather “play.” It is his definition of formal games that really appeals to me. I like the fact that he breaks it down into the “two-fold structure” of ends and means. This makes a lot of sense as every game is an activity with one or multiple objectives and rules/equipment. I like that he stays very broad as some get very specific and ruin their definitions. For example, Huizinga say games are “not serious” but many people take games very seriously. Obviously there are fanatic fans of sports teams and such, but going back in time to Gladiatorial combat (“Let the games begin”) it’s clear that there are pretty serious games. A contemporary, although illegal example would be dog-fighting.

2. My definition of game would be pretty similar to David Parlett’s, except in regards to the informal game. I’d say a game is an activity/event which requires participation. Games don’t require active participation as games (like Minesweeper) can be played as a mere distraction from something else. There is an objective and there are rules/regulations/and possibly equipment that limit the context of the game.

3. I think that Costikyan’s definition of games is far too narrow. It sounds like he is describing his ideal game as opposed to defining games as a whole. In my opinion, puzzles are games, second life is a game, and Sims is a game. All toys are probably not games, but rather imaginative tools, and stories are generally not games as well. This doesn’t mean games can’t include stories, or even have games that are all about stories. Heavy Rain is a great example of this. I think competition inherently drives games. From soccer to board games this is true. But it’s even true in puzzles where there is not direct competitor. I want to finish the crossword puzzle because I am in some kind of self-worth competition with myself. I want to know I am intellectually capable of doing it. Most mainstream games shouldn’t be considered art, at least not yet, the same way a summer blockbuster shouldn’t be considered art. But 100 years from now, who knows?

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