Reading Notes 1

1. I appreciate the very first approach that was introduced: considering games in relation with playing them. Comparing the conceptual approach (‘play’ within ‘game’) and typological approach (‘game’ within ‘play’) creates for an overwhelmingly pleasant but yet abstract idea of what exactly games really are to me.

I know that this thought is somewhat unrelated to the definition of game as we are going to use it, but, I found it pretty strange that our English word for something that we play is the same exact word that can mean crippled, a hunted animal, being skilled, gambling, or a social thing (pg 73). “Game” seems to mean an awful lot of completely unrelated things.

I had never thought about the voluntariness of games, but, Elliott Avedon and Brian Sutton-Smith’s thoughts made me realize something I never thought about before: you can’t really force somebody to play a game. Then it’s not fun. The SAW movies and Hunger Games are a pretty good example of that.


2. For 30 seconds, I thought “game” would be easy to define. I have probably started and deleted 5 beginnings of thoughts and then said, in my head, “okay, maybe that’s not really what a game is…”.

But, here I go: Games in the classic sense are sort of like alternate worlds where we have suspended reality for anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours which have a new set of rules, and new goals. Within these worlds, we have to abide by the constrictions of a set (but not necessarily physical) rule book, to operate in a way that is “allowed”. Monopoly is a good example, where acquiring all the land is the goal through rolling die, which would never exist in the real world. Even hide-and-seek has these two characteristics outside of reality: to be the last one found (goal) and you may only look after counting to some number (rule).

With this in mind, games can be physical (board games, card games), virtual (video games), and also completely independent of anything physical at all (hide and seek, tag). They can test physical strength (sports) and mental capacity (puzzles) and can get you very, very intoxicated (drinking games). What the word “game” can entail sounds rather endless.


3. By my own definition of what a game is, I’d say that a puzzle is a game. They might not be the most complicated or sophisticated, but they still have a goal (think crossword: to fill all the squares) and rules (one letter per square, etc.). Secondly, I would also argue that contrary to his thoughts, stories don’t always have to be linear. In a choose-your-own-adventure story, the are possibilities.

I absolutely agree that games require participation.  A game unplayed is..well, not really a game, is it? Slightly connected to that, I agree that a game in which the decisions are worthless (ie, Sims) because of a lack of goal makes perfect sense. Games need goals. Sims(and other computer ‘games’ of this nature) attempts to simulate reality, but there is no real objective.

I think that the clean-cut definition of a game here (“A form of art in which participants, teamed players, make decisions in order to manage resources through game tokens in the pursuit of a goal”)  is very clear, accurate,  and concise.

Though I would agree that color can enhance a game experience, or strengthen the visuals, I would hope that a color scheme wouldn’t make or break a game experience. I think an excellent game should work just as well in black and white as it would in nice inviting colors. His comment on Monopoly’s color, “the game almost works solely because of its color” seems a little off to me. What does color have to do with buying property and passing go?

Anything can be art, really. Games are art. Somebody had to dig into the depths of their creative minds to come up with a set of rules, a goal, and a form for their game to exist in (board, cards, computer, etc). That takes some serious creativity and skill. For those reasons, I would say yes. Games are art too.