I find Bernard Suits’ definition of a game to be the most appealing. To me, a game is more specific than play because you’re ultimately trying to reach a goal or constantly trying to overcome an obstacle. Play on the other hand is something that can be done sporadically for no reason what so ever and can end when one chooses. For instance, one can “play” and instrument. There is no goal, one doesn’t have to even finish what they’re playing, they are simply playing it for pleasure or to please others, but it’s not a “game”.
The part where Suits talks about rules factoring into a game is particularly appealing to me. Even with games made up on the spot, there tend to be rules. Sometimes in ultimate fighting you’ll hear “the only rules are: there are no rules” well they’re may not be as it pertains to what physically happens between the players, but the fighters still abide by the rounds, judging criteria, weight divisions, etc, which I define as “rules”.
Suits also talks about games having a goal, which is something I mentioned earlier. In the beginning of the chapter where Salen and Zimmerman list all the definitions of “game” seven out of the eight definitions involve a final goal. For example “head games” the goal is to manipulate a person a certain way, once you’ve reached the desired manipulation, you’ve “won”. When hunting “game” the goal is to shoot and kill you’re “game”, if you have you’ve obtained a prize and again, “won”.
A game in my own words is an activity that has rules or guidelines and who’s players mutual intent is to reach a specific goal.
I feel that this definition may not be as specific and maybe not as well calculated as some of the definitions in the book, but I feel that it is general enough to cover almost all games and that is my goal. I’m not trying to find a solution to every loophole in the gaming world; I’m simply trying to find a definition universal enough to apply to most games.
My definition of a “game” is much different than my definition of “play”. To me play can’t be pinpointed with one definition because I find it to have many different meanings. Play can be applied to a bevy of situations, whereas games are defined by rules and goals.
I think Costikyan’s definition of games is a little on the narrow side. To claim that every game is a “form of art” seems erroneous to me. Is he taking into consideration play ground games such as “red rover” or “tag”? I wouldn’t consider these games art. They aren’t in exhibition for anyone they simply exist to entertain young children. I do agree however with his statement that game players pursue a goal.
Puzzles do apply to his definition, they are both works of art and it’s players’ work to obtain the goal of finishing the puzzle or reaching its endpoint. Second life I would describe as a game it’s goal being to keep your environment as stable and prosperous as possible. Take a second life game like SIMS. There are rules to the game, or at least guidelines, certain things you can and cannot do. The goal of the game is to create a flourishing environment for these simulated humans and keep them alive.