What Is a Game?


We all have a pretty good intuitive notion of what a game is. The general term”game” encircles board games such as chess and Monopoly, card games like poker and blackjack, casino games like roulette and slot machines, army war games, computer games, various sorts of play among children, and the list continues. In academia we occasionally speak of game theory, where multiple agents select strategies and tactics in order to maximize their gains within the framework of a well-defined pair of match rules. When used in the context of console or computer-based entertainment, the term”game” usually conjures images of a three-dimensional digital world with a humanoidcreature or vehicle as the main character under player control. (Or for the old geezers among us, perhaps it brings to mind images of two-dimensional classics such as Pong, Pac-Man, or Donkey Kong.) In his excellent book, A Theory of Fun for Game Design, Raph Koster defines a sport to be an interactive experience that offers the participant with an increasingly challenging series of patterns he or she learns and eventually masters. Koster’s asser-tion is that the activities of mastering and learning are at the center of what we call”fun,” just as a joke becomes amusing at the moment we”get it” by understanding that the routine.

Most two- and – three-dimensional video games have been examples of what computer scientists would call soft real-time interactive agent-based computer simulations. Let’s break down this phrase to be able to better understand what it implies. In the majority of video games, some subset of the real world -an imaginary world- is modeled mathematically that it can be manipulated by a computer. The design is an approximation to and a simplification of reality (even if it’s a fanciful fact ), because it is clearly impractical to incorporate every detail down to the level of atoms or quarks. Hence, the mathematical model is a simulation of the actual or imagined game universe. Approximation and simplification are two of the game developer’s strongest tools. When used skillfully, a greatly simplified model can sometimes be almost indistinguishable from reality and much more fun.

An agent-based simulation is one where a number of different entities known as”agents” socialize. This fits the description of the majority of three-dimensional computer games very well, where the brokers are characters, vehicles, fireballs, electricity dots and so on. Considering that the agent-based nature of most games, it should come as no surprise that many games today are employed in an object-oriented, or loosely object-based, programming language.

All interactive video games are temporal simulations, which means that the vir- tual game universe model is dynamic-the state of this sport universe changes over time as the game’s events and story unfold. A video game must also respond to inconsistent inputs from its human player(s)-hence interactive temporal simulations. Finally, most video games show their stories and respond to player input in real time, making them interactive real time simulations.

1 notable exception is in the category of turn-based games such as automatic chess or non-real-time strategy games. But these kinds of games usually provide the consumer with some form of real-time graphical user interface.

The expression”game engine” appeared in the mid-1990s in reference to first-person shooter (FPS) games such as the insanely popular Doom by id Software. Doom was architected using a reasonably well-defined split between its core software components (like the three-dimensional graphics rendering system, the collision detection system along with the audio system) and the art assets, game worlds and principles of play that included the player’s gaming experience. The value of the separation became evident because developers started licensing matches and retooling them into new goods by creating new art, world layouts, weapons, characters, vehicles and game rules with only minimal adjustments to the”engine” software. This marked the birth of the”mod community”-a bunch of gamers and little independent studios which built new games by changing existing matches, using free toolkits pro- vided from the original developers. Engines were made exceptionally customizable via scripting languages such as id’s Quake C, and motor licensing started to be a viable secondary revenue stream for those programmers who made them. Now, game developers can license a game engine and reuse significant portions of its crucial software components so as to construct games. Although this practice still entails substantial investment in custom software technology, it can be much more economical than creating all of the core engine components in house. The line between a game and its motor is frequently blurry.