When Is A Video Game Not A Video Game?

Games designer, author and all-round very smart man Raph Koster has written a rather interesting piece on his personal site laying down some framework for just when you can call something a video game (or a game in general) and when you can't.

Spurred on by the likes of Dear Esther, which I thought was pushing the limits of what we can reasonably call a "game", and Farmville, which loads of people say is not a real "game", he offers up a clear definition for the term and a super-handy venn diagram illustrating it.

Playing a game is the act of solving statistically varied challenge situations presented by an opponent who may or may not be algorithmic within a framework that is a defined systemic model.

It's not a universal rule of course, just one man's opinion, but if this kind of stuff floats your boat it's well worth a read.

"X" isn't a game! [Raph Koster]


    This comment has been reported for inappropriate content and is awaiting review.

      You're really trying hard this time aren't ya buddy?
      This article is fine and you know it.

      I'm reporting this comment...

      You've made your point many a time, maybe stop reading articles by Luke if you hate him.

      i bet it's luke trolling everyone

    Wait, how do board games not also conform to his statement? And how are they not also art?

    The article seems to be simply an opportunity to rag on Dear Esther...

    I think that "Toy" is another category that is appearing more and more into modern video games.
    Games such as Noby Noby Boy, and Minecraft can simply provide an environment to play in, where youare not challenged, you simply direct your own experiences, and set your own challenges.
    I think that "Interactive Art" is a bit of a wanky term, and not too many people actively persue the purely artistic aspects of computer games, whatever that actually means.

      The creator of Noby Noby said it was a toy, not a game. Similarly, Will Wright states that most of his creations are toys, not games.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now