Note to potential readers: If you don’t find the philosophy of language interesting then you can kindly fuck off.
Wittgenstein once observed that it is impossible to define the term ‘game’. Oh sure we all think we know what the word means, however, when you really sit down and think about it it soon becomes a hopeless task. Are games fun? Not always, certainly it would be hard to imagine how problem gamblers are having ‘fun’. Are games somehow the opposite of work? Not always, for professional athletes play is work. Similarly not all games involve rules, and not all games involve winning or losing. Perhaps one of the most complete academic attempts to define ‘games’ Juul’s Classical Game Model comes to the rather amusing conclusion that Sim City is not a game, despite the fact that it is regularly called a game, sold as a game and played by gamers.
We can not create a complete holistic definition of game which includes all of the things that people regularly and habitually label as ‘games’. What is startling is that we don’t need one. Despite the fact that it’s impossible to precisely define the word game, if I tell you I played a new game last night you would understand what I meant. (more…)