What is a game?

What is a Game?

Since we are talking about games, it might not be a bad idea to make sure we are talking about the same thing. So...

What is a game?

It seems like a simple enough question: what is a game?

We all know what a game is. We see them and play them every day. So it should be a fairly  simple answer.

But then you start thinking about it and realize that the answer isn’t so simple.

What is a game?

In his Confessions, Augustine of Hippo writes about time: 

"What is time?... We surely know what we mean when we speak of it. We also know what is meant when we hear someone else talking about it. What then is time? Provided that no one asks me, I know. If I want to explain it to an inquirer, I do not know.” 

The same is true of games.

We all know what a game is, we can point out games when we see them, and we know what we are talking about when we talk about games.

But when we are asked “what is a game?” we probably don’t have an answer. We don’t know. Or perhaps we do have an answer, but then we quickly realize that it excludes many of the things we would call games.

So, what is a game?

Is there something essential to all games that makes them “games”? Do we even need to be able to define games?

What do you think?