Defining games

The other day I started discussing what a game is with a few friends. This made me stop and consider what a game truly is. Is there a difference between a game and play? After opening my textbooks I found several other people whom also pondered this question. I found two game definitions I really liked. Eric Zimmermans definition from this book and Jesper Juuls definition. Juuls definition was by far the most complex and detailed one but I am attracted to Zimmermans definition because it is short, simple and easy to understand. This is Zimmermans definition and I will now explain why I like it.

A game is a voluntary interactive activity, in which one or more players follow rules that constrain their behavior, enacting an artificial conflict that ends in a quantifiable outcome.

This definition states several attributes that is required in a game. The first part states that a game needs to be voluntary and interactive. This means you must have the choice not to play and that you must be able to influence the game. This actually excludes the somewhat popular Norwegian children’s game Stigespillet from being a game. Dice is the only influencing factor in this game and the player can not make any choices affecting the game.

Zimmerman states that a game can have any number of players. This is good because it includes solitaire games. Next comes what I believe is the most important part of a good game definition. A game needs rules that limit the choices the participants have. This is an important difference between games and play. When playing there are no real limits, in a game the rules define the playing field. The definition goes further to state that a game needs an artificial conflict. This requires us to look at the word conflict in a wide sense. The artificial conflict can be between the challenges the game sets the players and need not be between the players. The last part of Zimmerman’s definition is the part that conflicts most with simulation games. Zimmerman states that a game needs a quantifiable outcome. A quantifiable outcome is quite common in many games but it is nonexistent in many computergames.

It may seem a bit strange that it is possible to define games in such a short sentence and in one way this is correct. It would not be very hard to find games that are would not fit in this definition. For instance this definition does not cover simulation computer games like Sim City. Still simplicity and being short is a good trait for a definition to have so I still like Zimmermans definition and will continue to use it.


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I’m going on a gaming convention this weekend and I’m looking forward to asking them to define what a game is. I will keep you updated on how they define a game.

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I have discovered the missing link.

I followed a link to a swedish newspaper from Jill/txt and there I discovered something remarkable. At the bottom of the article in the nespaper there where links to blogs that commented this article. Genius….. Apperently there is a site called Twingely that gives a feed that connect newsarticles and blogs that comment them. What a perfect tool for Gatewatching Newsblogs. Im still in shock. This might be the missing link that will connect the old with the new.

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Two networks becoming one.

I just added my blog to facebook. This is scary. Miksing social networks this way may destroy my fragile net personality and make me a mute…… Hopefully I will survive.

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The Huin 206 party is now over and we had lots of fun. The ones that showed up anyway.
We were only four people but we had our own room with our own bartender :-).

We chatted a bit about other fun events we could arrange at huin. Since all four of us liked games we discussed arranging some sort og multiplayer game in class. something easier and less formal that WoW. Perhaps we can convice Silje to let us do this during a lecture. we can pretend we are studying some sort of game aspect 🙂

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Defence for the future

I was reading and I among one of the comments I found this statement

Elinesca Says:
February 25th, 2007 at 22:18

I’ve been bored with blogging for just about over two years now… luckily, I do feel there is a change in the air. Perhaps students hesitate to blog since the consequences of publishing online is now much more severe than what it felt like in the past when having a blog really just meant you were mastering new technology and it was quite exciting to figure out how far you could take it?

norwegian marketing consultant got two leagal action letters for illegal marketing when he complained about specific netcataloges in his private blog.

I are not saying that one should not publish material on the net, but to be aware that perhaps one day you have to be able to defend what you wrote. I belive this is a good filter. If you cant stand by and defend what you write you shodnt publish it on the net.

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I suddenly realized something the other day. Facebook isn’t just a social online network I study. Its something I can actually use. If I can get enough of the gaming crowd of bergen to join a “gaming in bergen group” we can use it to organize events. Its pure genius. Now I only have to overcome their fear of new and strange things….

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