Why do we play computer games? Well, why do we play games at all? The real question is: Why do games fit computers so well? Computers are an enabler of games the way cinemas enable story telling.
He gives a nuanced analysis of classical games. Then he looks at what happens if you remove one of the elements. For example, games classically have rules. Take away the rules and you can have freeform play. If you remove the fact that we place a value on the outcomes (i.e., we like to win), you can get Conway’s game of life or watch a fireplace. So, this is a definition of games that — despite Wittgenstein — is useful since it provides a way to think about assumptions.
The elements of the classical model have been removed since around 1970. E.g., pen and paper role playing games don’t have fixed rules and Doom doesn’;t have a quantifiable outcome. The one thing that hasn’t changed is the fact that the player feels associated with the outcome.
Games aren’t tied to any particular media. They can be “transmedial.” E.g., computer hearts is just like real world hearts, but John Madden Football isn’t.
He concludes: Games have moved onto computers so easily because we have spent millennia driving the ambiguity out of games. He says, “Expanding the field of games is one of the computer’s most important contriutions to human culture.”
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