Sometimes it’s silly what we humans can find about which to disagree. We can’t even decide what exactly defines a game, much less how to deal with the actual problems facing our world. But it’s also what makes us what we are and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. So now, read the probably incorrect thing another human with a different background and thought process than you decided makes up what a game is! I wrote this in preparation for an upcoming series, Explaining My Favorite Games to my Grandfather. Should be a fun one.

Games are…

a) systems b) that change c) in predictable ways d) that can be affected by the player.

a) Systems

Games are systems. That means that they have multiple entities in them with definite properties that interact with one another.

b) That change

If there are multiple entities in a system that do not interact with each other in a perceptible way, that system is neither interesting or useful. Game systems have entities that change as a result of their own properties and the properties of the other entities.

c) In predictable ways

A system that reacts, however complexly, within itself without a way for the player to identify changes and reactions is not a system the player can usefully interact with. Similarly, a system who’s reactions and properties are completely random cannot be reliably subverted. All games inform the player with visual, auditory, or physical queues what is happening to at least some of the game world at least some of the time.

d) That can be affected by the player

If some portion of a system cannot be altered by the player’s input, it is not a game.  A game is a system that the player can alter to change the outcome of some or all of it’s interactions, either by altering the properties of the entities in the world or by introducing new entities to the world with new properties.