What is a Game? [Part 1]

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What is a Game?

Games are classified in many different ways and even after going round and round repeatedly, we still can’t seem to agree on what a game actually is.

Here are a few examples:

Some examples of casual (or mini) games: (posted by Clark Aldrich on seriousgames May 20, 2007

> Tips on Tap: http://www.webcourseworks.com/tipsontap/
> Binary numbers: http://forums.cisco.com/CertCom/game/binary_game.swf
> Other Cisco games: http://www.medcalf.com/games/cisco_games/

“Tips on Tap” isn’t so much a game as a contest – here the object is to see how quickly you can click the right things in the right order. The addition of scores and time constraints seems to make this into a game. I tried it – un-doing an action is difficult and frustrating.

The “Binary Game” isn’t really a game at all, in my opinion. It is an exercise – in fact, it is a worksheet. True, there is a score, and the challenge is to see how fast you can solve the problems. It appears that the introduction of scores and time keeping allows this electronic worksheet to be viewed as a game.

The “Cisco Games”, while posing more complex (and possibly interesting) problems suffer from functional complexity as well. I did not find the gameplay intuitive. Of the three groups, I’d consider these the most game-like, although I am currently at a loss to explain exactly why. If we remove the time pressure what do we have left? In many cases, what we have left is a puzzle. If we remove the score-keeping, it appears to stop being a game.

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