Can we define what we actually mean by the term "game"?

Article by Ken Thompson, 06 Apr 2017


Jane McGonigal, in her excellent book Reality is Broken, defines the 4 characteristics of any game in a very simple but useful way:

  1. The Goal
  2. The Rules
  3. The Feedback System
  4. Voluntary Participation

Jane illustrates how these 4 components can be used to define various different types of games such as Golf, Scrabble and Tetris.  It is even more interesting to note what is NOT a defining characteristic of a game, for example the myth that "ability to win" is a defining aspect of all games - its not! 

See also my 15 Principles of Business Game Design for team-based learning.

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