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Subject: What determines whether or not something is a "Game" for you? rss

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Justin Robinson
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My wife and I were talking about what games to start my son out with when he gets old enough to play games and at one point she suggested Chute/Snakes and Ladders. I quickly responded, "That's not a game! There are no choices made by players and is purely random. You could each roll the dice once and whoever has the highest die roll is the winner of Chutes and Ladders."

However, Chutes and Ladders obviously attracts people enough to stay on store shelves in the board game section so obviously someone disagrees with me, so it got me wondering what different people's definition of games are.

For me, lack of player choice is a cutoff point in a game. 'Sorry!' for instance allows you choice on which piece to move to fit your strategy, where Chutes and Ladders you move your one and only piece according to the die roll.

There might be other lines I draw in defining what makes something a game vs an activity, but that's the main one I can think of at the moment.

How do you define a game or what doesn't count as a game?

 
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Steve C
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Something is a game for me when the name after "To: " on the tag matches my own and we are at a gift-giving event.


In terms of game/activity/whatever, it depends on what you want to accomplish. If you want to introduce a potential new gamer to board gaming, you start with things they might like or that might be similar to things they like. And then you continue corrupting them, slowly but surely.

If you want to play things that are up to your standards or are your favorites, then be aware that not all "entry level" or gateway gamers will enjoy what you enjoy.
 
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Daily Grind
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I define a Game as anything that's fun and requires active engagement (as opposed to passive, like watching a movie). And since the definition of what is 'fun' to me changes, the definition of what is a 'game' to me also changes.

Chutes and Ladders was a game to me when I was 4, but it is no longer is a game to me because its no longer fun for me. So my definition of game is static, but the criteria to meet my personal view of 'fun' is fluid.

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Denyou wrote:
My wife and I were talking about what games to start my son out with when he gets old enough to play games and at one point she suggested Chute/Snakes and Ladders. I quickly responded, "That's not a game! There are no choices made by players and is purely random. You could each roll the dice once and whoever has the highest die roll is the winner of Chutes and Ladders."

However, Chutes and Ladders obviously attracts people enough to stay on store shelves in the board game section so obviously someone disagrees with me, so it got me wondering what different people's definition of games are.

For me, lack of player choice is a cutoff point in a game. 'Sorry!' for instance allows you choice on which piece to move to fit your strategy, where Chutes and Ladders you move your one and only piece according to the die roll.


The problem there is that you're making lot of assertions without any arguments.

On what grounds do you suggest that meaningful decisions are needing for something to qualify as a game? It's a common claim on here, but I don't think I've ever seen anybody try to explain why that should be the case.

Personal preference? Fair enough. But then it's no more valid than arguing that anything without randomness is a puzzle, not a game. A subjective preference dressed up as some kind of objective definition.

Without sucessfully arguing for the premise, any conclusion is necessarily unconvincing.

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There might be other lines I draw in defining what makes something a game vs an activity, but that's the main one I can think of at the moment.

How do you define a game or what doesn't count as a game?



While I don't normally go for dictionary definitions, in this case I think it's got it right. (Meriam-Webster).

"a physical or mental activity or contest that has rules and that people do for pleasure"

I'd argue that's the most productive one to use, as it's the one that reflects common usage and how most people see the term.

Interestingly, I think you can make a strong case for Chutes and Ladders not starting out as a game, because it wasn't there for pleasure. In its origional format as Snakes and Ladders, it's an interactive morality tale.
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PJ Schwinn
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I will also discount games that don't have some sort of player control, but technically they *are* still games.

I felt the same way you did about Chutes and Ladders with my son so we changed the rules to "after spinning, you decide whether to move your guy or your opponent's guy those spaces." It was very entry-level strategy, but not bad for a little kid. Especially a kid who is much more interested in messing up his opponent's game than actually winning.


 
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Daniel Hoffman
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Chutes and Ladders would neither qualify as a mental or physical activity for me.
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
But then it's no more valid than arguing that anything without randomness is a puzzle, not a game. A subjective preference dressed up as some kind of objective definition.


That is not subjective. With zero randomness during play, there is an optimal solution (or multiple equally optimal solutions). You are not playing against anything, you are solving a problem. That is a puzzle. That doesn't mean it isn't fun to solve.
 
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Eric Nolan
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I think if you are reduced to arguing that something is technically a game based on the dictionary definition you might be better off moving on to something else.

That definition seems very dubious to me anyway. Is running a game? It's a physical activity. It has rules. Some people presumably do it for pleasure (not me though, dreadful activity, worse than Snakes and Ladders...maybe).
 
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Hivemind wrote:
Is running a game? It's a physical activity. It has rules.

Running doesn't really have rules, unless you're referring to organized, competitive running. In which case it is one of the original Olympic
Games.
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Maarten D. de Jong
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HaNd_SoLo wrote:
That is not subjective. With zero randomness during play, there is an optimal solution (or multiple equally optimal solutions). You are not playing against anything, you are solving a problem. That is a puzzle. That doesn't mean it isn't fun to solve.

No, this doesn't fly. Randomness can be described by probability density functions. Their expectation values (and higher moments) give you the optimal solution to the problem. It isn't exact for an individual case of course... but measured over the course of many hands you cannot do better. If you could, the randomness isn't random.

@OP: A game? A set of fixed rules defining and/or encompassing a goal which 2 or more players individually but simultaneously strive to complete first or best. Usually what is implied is that the effort is mostly mental instead of physical, but it is by no means a great stretch to consider activities where the physical aspect dominates a 'game'. (It tends to happen most when teams of players play against each other.) Also there is a grey area what happens in case of solo gaming: if there's no 'serious' AI I think of matters as a puzzle. But this is rather arbitrary and vague.

Games may be pointless or even stupid in the sense that no significant player input is required, as illustrated by the game in which players roll 1D6 with the highest result winning. But to me it's still a game in terms of the above definition.
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cymric wrote:
HaNd_SoLo wrote:
That is not subjective. With zero randomness during play, there is an optimal solution (or multiple equally optimal solutions). You are not playing against anything, you are solving a problem. That is a puzzle. That doesn't mean it isn't fun to solve.


No, this doesn't fly. Randomness can be described by probability density functions. Their expectation values (and higher moments) give you the optimal solution to the problem. It isn't exact for an individual case of course... but measured over the course of many hands you cannot do better. If you could, the randomness isn't random.


You seem to have missed my emphasis on zero randomness during play. An example of this is the card "game" Freecell. There is randomness in the deal. After that, it is a puzzle to solve.
 
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Larry L
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In my memory, I have never encountered a thing where the it was not clear to me whether or not the thing was a game, in the sense of the word game in boardgamegeek, so not to put too fine a point on it, I never have found the need to put too fine a point on it.

If, accidentally, I should confuse someone, it is pretty easy to work out that confusion with that person.

Yes, I would refer to Chutes and Ladders as a game.
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Trevor
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A game has a goal to victory with defined rules.

Chutes and Ladders is technically a game. It just happens that the game is 100% luck. The goal of the game is first to the top. The rules are roll the die when it's your turn.
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CARL SKUTSCH
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Chutes and Ladders is an abomination.

You'd be better off teaching kids Tic Tac Toe. Then checkers. Then move up to Hey That's my Fish, then maybe Jamaica or Hive.
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p socialworkdad
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Fix Snakes and Ladders by rolling two dice on your turn. You then select which result to apply. For my daughter this worked well; aged 3 she learnt that a 6 is not always the 'best' number and felt she was exerting control over randomness. Then she had to assess which of 2 rolls was least 'bad' sometimes which is a useful skill.

Although she's not grown up to be quite the 'gamer girl' I'd hoped, at age 12, she is an excellent risk assessor/moderator who enjoys the occasional game of Power Grid, Alhambra, Port Royal, Nuns on the Run or Oh My Goods with her old dad..... who she usually trounces!
 
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Andrew Taylor
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HaNd_SoLo wrote:

That is not subjective. With zero randomness during play, there is an optimal solution (or multiple equally optimal solutions). You are not playing against anything, you are solving a problem. That is a puzzle. That doesn't mean it isn't fun to solve.

That definition would exclude Chess (and Go etc)
 
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Andrew Taylor
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Hivemind wrote:

Is running a game?

Going for a jog around the park isn't a game. Two or more people having a race is, obviously, a game.

 
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Eric Nolan
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Ergates wrote:
Hivemind wrote:

Is running a game?

Going for a jog around the park isn't a game. Two or more people having a race is, obviously, a game.



Really? I'm very surprised that people (obviously you and the person who mentioned the Olympics) hold that opinion. I guess a game where we run inside the lines and then the person who rolls a six first is the winner counts too?

The definition is starting to seem so broad as to be largely useless.
 
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Some Guy
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http://proto-knowledge.blogspot.com/2010/12/what-is-differen...
 
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Andrew Taylor
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Hivemind wrote:
I guess a game where we run inside the lines and then the person who rolls a six first is the winner counts too?

Yes.
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The definition is starting to seem so broad as to be largely useless.

Useless to what purpose? What is the need for a narrow definition of 'game'?
We're talking about a word that encompasses rugby, darts, chess, poker, Agricola, Star Wars Armada, Call of Duty, Papers Please. Arguing that it shouldn't include Snakes & Ladders seems silly.
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Shuko wrote:


Interesting article, but to take just one thing that stood out for me.

"Chess is competitive but does not require physical skills, so it is a game."

So, technically, Space Cadets is a sport?

(Mind you, I'd love to see Space Cadets in the Olympics).
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Ergates wrote:
HaNd_SoLo wrote:

That is not subjective. With zero randomness during play, there is an optimal solution (or multiple equally optimal solutions). You are not playing against anything, you are solving a problem. That is a puzzle. That doesn't mean it isn't fun to solve.


That definition would exclude Chess (and Go etc)


Only if your opponent makes the same moves, in the same order, every game.
 
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Interactive entertainment.
 
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Abiezer Coppe wrote:
In its origional format as Snakes and Ladders, it's an interactive morality tale.

Chutes and Ladders is still a morality tale. At the bottom of the ladder is a child doing something nice, then at the top of the ladder, the child receives a related reward. At the top of the slide is a child doing something mean, and at the bottom, the child receives a related punishment.

My youngest child outgrew Chutes and Ladders (and other children's games) several years ago, so they sit in a box waiting for the next generation. Small children like luck. It doesn't preclude their growing into advanced games as they grow up.
 
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Andrew Taylor
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HaNd_SoLo wrote:

Only if your opponent makes the same moves, in the same order, every game.

Your opponent's moves in chess are not random though, therefore there is no randomness. The presence or absence of randomness isn't what differentiates between a puzzle and a game.
 
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