Tentative Definition

I'm tentatively placing this out for criticism as a definition of "game".

Game - A game is when you place yourself in conflict with an opponent, real or conceptual, within a system of rules.

Game - A game is when you place yourself in conflict with an opponent, real or systemic, within a guiding system of rules.


  1. That might be a little too broad a definition. Both wars and business are conducted within a set of rules too. Wars are usually conducted within treaties that the parties in conflict have signed. Business is conducted within the rules (laws) that society has set down.

    It might be worthwhile including the concept of entertainment and/or simulation in the definition.

  2. Not sure if you can apply that definition to a game like Solitare?

    I recommend checking out:


  3. What they said! I think it's possible to game without conflict. That said, as I think about it... maybe there does have to be some element of competition, whether that be against someone else or oneself.

    Hrm. All in all, that definition -- while it could be refined -- may not be that far off.

  4. I had thought about that Stropp, but then what were the games at the coliseum? Or does professional football cease to be a game at some point if the players don't do it for fun?

    The problem is, I'm not sure war and business aren't games. Though if I had to make an argument against it, I'd say you can go back to the old saying "all's fair in love and war." The rules governing those two affairs are not systems of rules, rather they are watchdog rules. This means the rules don't inform what you can do, but rather what you can't, or shouldn't do.

    I've actually been reading it as it's released Crimson Starfire. I often have... difficulty when people define games though, because they hardly seem to even work for our needs. Solitaire for instance still has conflict with the game, and random elements. Conflict is what provides the challenges to be overcome from minute to minute, and it's entirely possible for the design of the game to create those challenges without another player.

    One of the most common things tacked on to a definition of games is that of win/lose states. But what is Bioshock than? You can be temporarily set back, but never loose, meaning that you don't win the game, you just complete it. Yet we don't have major conversations as to whether or not Bioshock is a game or not, it is for any useful conversation, especially professional.

  5. In the case of Solitare, I guess the conflict would be the random order and assortment of the cards. To resolve the conflict, the player must order the cards following certain rules.

    In which case you definatition holds, although it does seem very open to interpretation... :P