First, the idea that games have a ‘nature’ requires some kind of explication which I am totally unprepared to do. However short-sighted my title may be, I’m am excited enough about games as to consider that ‘game’ is some kind of limiting concept that not everything falls into and in this very liberal sense, I think games have a nature that other things don’t have. Essentially I am saying there are things that are games and there are things that are not games and that the things that are games are of the same kind, despite perhaps appearing different. In this limited sense I’m saying they have a ‘nature’ – something that ties them together as being the same kind. Before I continue with what I know is going to be a feeble attempt to describe what strikes me as the nature of games, allow me to direct you to another post on another blog that does a really nice job talking about games. Now that you have that, I feel less bad about what I am going to write and what you’re going to end up reading.
I don’t really want to set out to define games so I don’t know why I started with such an epic opening paragraph. And I don’t even like the term ‘nature.’ It’s so messy and normative. But I’m going to leave that paragraph up anyway and continue on just like we were talking. All I really want to do is talk about games. I want to express my enthusiasm for play and gaming and maybe organize the thoughts I’m having in my head. I think I’ll start by saying that play and games are different. While play may be described as a joyous expression, games are structured events. If play was an ephemeral moment of joy, a game would be a mechanism to capture that moment. Though maybe not all games. War games are not about joy, they are about practice and training. Play amongst predatory animals is closer to war games than hopscotch and hopscotch isn’t much of a game at all. But let’s not worry ourselves with answering the questions these examples seem to bring up. Let’s worry ourselves with thinking of examples and then maybe try to sort them. I don’t want to solve anything here. I just want to talk about games and then maybe make a couple helpful distinctions here and there.