A game is an activity with rules that provides enjoyment through competition, challenge and skill. Games are played with physical toys and other objects as well as electronic and computer games. Traditionally, games are competitive and skill based but they can also be narrative driven or pure art experiences. Some games can even be considered learning tools.

Crawford defines a game as: an interactive, goal-oriented activity that can be played for money or entertainment, with active agents that interact with each other and with the player, where the player can control the outcome of the activity and is restricted to using only those means explicitly allowed by the rules of the game. The interaction is goal-oriented and requires skill, but it does not have to involve violence or direct interference with the opponent. If the players are not interfering with each other but simply competing to outperform each other, it is a challenge; if they can attack each other and interfere with the performance of one another, it is a conflict. If the goals are not explicitly defined, a game is a toy; if the rules can change, it is entertainment. For example, baseball can be played with real or wiffle balls; however, the game changes significantly with enough differences in rules that it is not considered to be the same game.

In addition to being fun, playing a game can improve cognitive skills and social interactions. In fact, research has shown that people who play video games for extended periods have better visual-spatial and planning abilities than those who do not. It is believed that the reason for this is that games require more cognitive processing than non-game activities and therefore engage a higher level of brain function.

The use of a game can also help reduce stress. Studies have shown that playing a game can lower blood pressure, increase energy levels and improve mood. These benefits are due to the release of endorphins, which are chemicals in the brain that can reduce anxiety and depression. Games can also provide a sense of accomplishment and pride. In a study of adolescents, it was found that the more they played video games, the higher their self-esteem and the greater their self-esteem in social situations.

While gaming can be beneficial, some people spend too much time playing and can experience negative effects. The good news is that it can be easily treated. Some of the treatment techniques include minimizing or eliminating pull influences such as school or work and enhancing push factors such as hobbies, exercise or family time. Additionally, therapists can teach patients to recognize negative emotions and develop healthy coping strategies to deal with them. For more information about the effects of gaming and how to treat them, visit the American Psychological Association website. The article was provided by Project MUSE, a digital collection of full-text versions of journals and books from the world’s university presses and scholarly societies.