Game Definition – What is a Board Game?

The word “game” means many things to many people. To some people, a game is simply a structured, repeated form of creative play, often undertaken solely for fun or entertainment, and at other times used as an instructional tool. Games are distinctly different from work, which traditionally is carried out only for remuneration, and in most cases from literature, which is primarily an expression of artistic or aesthetic concepts. Games can be made by any number of people. A game tester, who finds errors or inconsistencies within a game and reports these to the developers, is perhaps the best illustration of the type of game designer F95ZONE .

In the early years of the computer and video game industry, the term game designer referred simply to whoever designed the computer or video game. In more recent years, however, the term game designer has been applied to almost any person who creates a game, with the exceptions of the executive producer and director. Many gamers consider themselves “game designers,” since most video games that are released by major game companies (EA, Blizzard, etc.) feature complex plots, dramatic characters, and highly sophisticated graphics.

The etymology of the term suggests that it derives from a game that was played on strings, with participants using a bow. This may have been related to the early game of marbles, with which players threw marbles (or, as some claim, blackpeas) at each other in order to knock them out of the court. Alternately, the term may come from a game of croquet, in which the objective was to prevent the opponent from reaching the goal post. When crosswords, hangman, and other word games became popular, they were often played with a “crossword” board, in which words would cross over in a diagonal pattern. These earlier word games often featured words such as “fog”, “shade,” “cloud,” “pitch,” and other such words.

Today, many people use the word game to describe the complex worlds created by computer and video games, with their detailed characters, plots, challenges, levels, achievements, items, and so forth. Other people view video games as a form of escapism, with players taking on the role of the protagonist in an engrossing storyline, while interacting with other players through terminals or a network of pings and beeps. Still others view video games as a medium through which children express their social and emotional struggles through mini-games. Whatever a player’s view, it seems that the term game has become indelibly linked with video games. The earliest origins of the term game can be traced back to the term gamin, used in the French language to mean card, stone, or other playing-card.

The evolution of the term game can be traced back to the middle ages, when the Catholic Church made it illegal to play with a computer game. This effectively killed off the popular European board game, Siciliano, although its influence lives on even today. In parallel with the popularity of computer games and the development of mass-market amusement products, the idea of a “game” also began to take on a life of its own, encompassing all manner of electronic devices. The earliest example of a game being referred to as a “game” was the game of whistling.

A major development which came later was the appearance of computer games which could be played on a TV screen, with the player responding to sound, graphics, or computerized icons. In this manner, the board game concept found new life. Computer games which have since been called “role playing” games are generally multiplayer online role playing games, in which one player plays the role of a character in an interactive fiction, while the other players do the same. Some of the earliest versions of these computer games were text-based, with players using letters as means of input. A further development which laid the foundation for numerous massively-multiplayer online games, such as World of Warcraft, owes its origin to the concept of a world environment in which the players were expected to interact with one another.

Much later on, this interaction would expand to include chat rooms, forums, polls, rankings and rewards. A new term which emerged to describe this trend is “aggro-sharding”, in which players were encouraged (or sometimes forced) to team up and work towards common goals. It is for these reasons that modern-day online board games have a long history which goes back to the beginning of the twentieth century, as Chris Crawford’s conception of a game which combined elements from chess and card games spawned adaptations of this concept into hundreds of different forms. As the genre continued to evolve, the “gamble” factor was removed, resulting in a much more controlled game environment, in which the outcome was unlikely to be entirely random.

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