Reading Notes #1

1. There were several definitions that appealed to me from the readings. David Parlett’s caught my eye, because it explained games in the most simple of terms. He said that a formal game has an end and means. A game is a contest with an endpoint as its goal, and players use agreed upon rules and materials to get to that endpoint. As we looked into other definitions, they became more and more complex. I started to agree with them less and less. But there were a few at that end that I liked. Greg Costikyan’s definition was pretty accurate in my mind. As well as Elliot Avedon and Brian Sutton-Smith’s.

However after reading about all the different definitions that people had come up with over the years, I think that the definition that Salen and Zimmerman came up with is a pretty good one. They state that: a game is a system in which players engage in artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome. I particularly like this definition because it is to the point like Parlett’s, yet also includes specifics that Parlett leaves to the reader to decide.


2. The way I would define a game in my own words would be fairly similar to the definitions that we have read about. I would say that a game is an activity in which players engage in conflict while following rules to reach an endpoint. There are other things like the fact that games are make believe, or they have a system of parts, or they are uncertain, but not every game has these features. Therefore I believe that the definition of a game should be the bare minimum that makes up a game.


3. Costikyan’s definition of a game is this: a game is a form of art in which participants, themed players, make decisions in order to manage resources though game tokens in the pursuit of a goal.

I mostly agree with his definition, but there are some sections that I have issues with. I don’t think that in all games we must manage resources through game tokens…what about games in which tokens are not used? Also though I believe some games are a form of art, there are a few games that simply are not. Poker and card games are considered games, but are definitely a form of art im my opinion. Other than these minor disagreements, I would say that I agree with his definition for the most part.

Puzzles are a special type of game I think. They are really their own category. The main difference is that most puzzles are done by one person while most games are played by multiple people. But they do have similar qualities, like working toward an endpoint for example.

I think for a game to be considered art, it really depends on what type of game it is. Like I said before, poker is considered a game but I really don’t consider it art. But elaborate games like the one I played last week, Smallworld is definitely considered art. Also video games are considered art because of their beautiful and sometimes very realistic graphics.