A Game : Shuffling the Deck
Shuffling the Deck
Publication date: 2021-11-01
What is a Game?
Cursory research informs that there is no rigid, or even useful, cogent definition for a "game". Compare Solitaire with a pack of cards to Football (or "soccer" for you Philistines). Both are "games". What is the commonality? A set of rules? Okay, so how does this separate Solitaire from driving on the road? Or forming an association?
Aaaah, there is some "entertainment" involved. For whom? Is a high profile professional sportsperson playing in a football team entertained or stressed by the "game"?
But, we love games. There is a playful challenge involved. Perhaps professional football is not a game. The personal "playfulness" is lost in the money. Maybe its a vicarious "game"? But, that makes no sense either, to be "involved" in a game one would expect to be able to influence it. If you're at the stadium making noise, maybe. But how does a television audience vicariously influence a football game?
One could look at "good" games versus "not so good" games. The good games seem to involve lots of inputs to produce difficult to control outputs (results). Part of that seems to be an element of randomness.
Take two brilliant "games" Chess and Go. There is no randomization. Fully fixed rules run the game. It is only the players' choices that dictate the game flow. Are these not "challenges" rather than "games"?
If one looks at "card games", involving some defined set of western "playing cards", one sees that shuffling the deck is an almost constant. I can't think of a single "card" game which does not begin with a randomization of the order of cards. Why do we randomize? So it not just Chess again?
Computer games really came out of the Arcade Games. Arcade games are electromechanical entertainment machines. Give the lass or lad a challenge. The biggest craze would have to have been pinball. A most wonderful combination of electro-mechanical combined with known understandings of sub-light speed and supra-molecular physics.
There are criticisms that come with games, especially of the arcade or "computer" type. "It is pointless". "What is achieved?" People who articulate this don't really seem to have thought about games at all. Perhaps they don't like them.
What is the "point" of football? Okay, good cardiovascular exercise. But, how about crossword puzzles? Are they are "game"? The value must be in developing an internal Thesaurus. But what about cryptic crosswords? That is a game in divining secret rules. I see no benefit whatsoever, apart from the joy of puzzle solving. Perhaps here we identify the core of games that people play that are individual (against the game).
Its puzzle solving for no purpose!
Team Based Computer Games
What is the difference between two football teams competing in a match and two "computer teams" competing in a match (DOTA 2, League of Legends, ...)?
There must be many, but I can think of one. "World building" solo player computer games. There are games like "Civilization" in which one is forced to compete against computer controlled adversaries. But, since the advent of "open world" games many have been constructed where "competition" is an optional part of the game. Compete to progress, chill for a bit and "build" or just make decorations. Actually, just make decorations for the fun of it.
There are greater and more subtle issues playing out. But, re-evaluating what "games" are and what they mean to our society is not asked often enough. Value judgments on which "games" contribute to society and which don't are declared over a murky field of definitions.
If you use a piece of consumer electronics to play tennis with a computer generated adversary, during which the network studies how you play, and then play against a computer generated opponent based upon your style of play. Is that a game?
If you unleash a military to kill 1 or ten or a 1000 or a million people which results in economic profits which help to retain your power. Is that a game?
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