Reading Notes #1

Abt’s definition appeals to me the most for a few reasons. His definition does not become to specific like some of the other definitions do. A key point that resonated with me was the ability to be a “decision-maker”. A game cannot be held between two inanimate objects. Yet, animals such as dogs can play games and make decisions such as chasing a ball, chasing their tale, or chasing one another. However, later examples go on to say how this is not a game but instead is “playing”, with which I agree. Humans are the prime example of decision makers when playing games, and this could be why the definition of games is so expansive and hard to pinpoint.
David Parlett’s definition is a good place to start which is why the authors probably chose to begin the chapter with his definition. His definition speaks of structure and Ends. I agree that games must have a goal or an end and in order to achieve that goal there must be structure/rules to make it game. Parlett’s definition is more of a basic definition that to me isn’t quite complete without Abt’s ‘decision-maker’ ability in it.

I would define a game to be: an activity in which one or more people participate with decision making and physical and mental action in order to reach some goal.
The goal could be anything. In some situations a game could be stacking cards with no set goal in mind at the time but just stack, or it could be to stack to a certain height or formation.
Games can also be played by yourself so I think its key to point out that it doesn’t need to be two or more players like Abt’s definition suggested. By physical and mental action I mean to suggest that it could be a game that really just requires clicking a mouse; while that suggests both physical and mental, the mental may be far for stimulating by making consequential decisions while the physical is a easy task compared to other games like tag, chase, duck-duck-goose, etc.

In my opinion Costikyan’s definition of games is too narrow. He does not accept the fact that puzzles can be games, yet if you put the puzzle is a virtual environment or a virtual maze that you control a character through then I think he would consider them games. His definition of games seems to want to apply to video/computer games only, at least that’s what all his counter arguments reference.
I agree with his points on interactivity and conflict and how a puzzle in almost every case does not have those components but if you put a puzzle in a medium such as the computer it then can be considered interactivity. I also agree with his clarification between game and toy. Programs like Sim city are toys, but when I played sims it was with my sister and we would compete to see who could have a bigger home. In that case it became a game. So these toys can still be games whether or not they were intended to be.
Color and competition are key to games. I do agree with his ideas about mutual goals and how they rarely outweigh the conflict of the game. In almost every case the game is built around conflict with one another, and rarely does a mutual goal towards the same conflict become more important. This example can even be used in his argument of color in monopoly. You may team up in monopoly to help stop a certain player from taking over but in the end it comes down to the initial conflict: have the more money than everyone else. The ability to strip the “color” and ultimately change the game is also a key point to what makes a game. A game is made on its graphics but on its game mechanics, monopoly has proven that by changing the boards to all sorts of things and Costikyan suggested that it even could be about space exploration and it wouldn’t matter.
I do think games can be art. In many situations we have seen games considered art. Just recently Jeff Koons made a video game that is considered art and I bet it would sell for millions based on Koons’ reputation and value of his work. In many ways a game is already art whether people realize it or not. It is extremely difficult to design a good game. Often times someone might say “I could make this game” yea well you didn’t. Those types of comments happen to plague the art world as well.