Reading Notes 1

1. Although I found all definitions to be mostly true and although many were very similar, I think I find David Parlett’s simple definition to be the one I most strongly agree with.  He distinguishes first the difference between an informal game and a formal game, a distinction that I think is important to the definition.  An informal game has no set rules or a defined objective, but is rather just innocent “play”.  An informal game can refer to many different things but has the common factor of containing and “ends” and a “means”.  The game has a specific objective and also a predetermined set of rules, which must be followed to win.

Any game I can think of falls under one of these two categories, and although I somewhat agree with all the other definitions, I think they have many exceptions.  Some for instance state that there need to be multiple players, whereas there are game such as solitaire which do not, but are no less of a game because of this.  Many definitions also mention fun and willingness to play which I think is very questionable and completely dependent upon the game.  They also do not need to be make-believe or inefficient, but rather can be played in a variety of different ways in many different situations.


2. My own definition of a game would be very similar to that of Parlett.  I think a game is an activity that has a set objective you are aiming to achieve.  It also must have a defined set of rules, no matter how minimal or extensive, that are predetermined and must be followed.  A game doesn’t necessarily have to have multiple players, nor does it need to fun or enjoyable to be considered a game.  Some are games of luck and some are of skill.  Games can be played a pastime or possibly to increase efficiency in a workplace.  There are many different types but all are considered a game as long as they have an objective and a means to achieve that objective.


3. Costikyan’s definition of games is, in my opinion, much too specific and only applies to a certain type of game.  I agree that a game has a common objective and also could possibly in a way be thought of as part of art and culture, but as far as his other aspects, I think that they cut out many things I would definitely consider to be games.  For instance, many games are games of luck and many decisions are made randomly rather than to manage resources and some could argue that there are certain games that don’t require conscious decision-making at all.

Costikyan is describing a certain type of game, such as Second Life, which requires active participation to manage resources through game tokens.  But there are games such as puzzles, which follow my definition and are meant for players to follow certain rules in order to achieve a common objective.  I would definitely consider a puzzle to be a game, although Costokyan and others do not agree.  I think he is thinking in too digitally of terms.  Many games do not require game tokens or such a defined system, but rather just a simple set of rules.  I think that games definitely require design and could be considered art.  I also think they are definitely a part of our culture and a big part of tradition.  I think that Costikyan has some really interesting views on games but I believe the term “game” refers to a broader idea that cannot be encapsulated by these narrow characteristics.