A game is a structured form of play undertaken for entertainment, fun, or challenge. It may be competitive, such as spectator sports and video games, or non-competitive such as a jigsaw puzzle or solitaire. Its boundaries are set by rules (which may include an umpire and the ability to punish transgressions), goals, and a narrative (which may or may not be scripted).

A key characteristic of games is interactivity. This makes them different from other forms of entertainment such as films and books, which are not interactive and therefore cannot stimulate interaction. Games can also be used to improve physical or mental skills, provide exercise, or serve an educational or simulational role.

Games are often associated with children but adults can and do play them. They can be a useful tool to help people cope with stress, depression or other issues, as they provide a way to immerse themselves in another world and distract themselves from their real problems. They can also be used as a social activity to connect with other people, although playing them excessively may lead to psychological problems if it is not balanced with other activities (Taquet et al., 2017).

Video games are a medium which offers an extremely wide range of gameplay experiences, from a simple 2D block jigsaw to an immersive virtual world filled with characters, settings and a storyline. Some games are more complex than others, requiring strategy and skill, or involving an element of luck. Others are purely artistic, immersive or abstract and require nothing more than the player’s imagination.

There is a long tradition of definitions of games, ranging from those which are based on mathematical game theory to those which focus on how the medium combines elements of toy, art and entertainment. However, it is unlikely that any of these will prove to be particularly helpful in defining what a video game is because all of them are limited in their scope by the fact that they are definitions of a medium that exists on a screen.

Trying to find a useful definition of a video game is not easy and it is probably impossible to avoid being influenced by previous work. However, this does not mean that new definitions are not valuable. What matters is that they fit the particular use case, take into account existing work and do not confuse the reader. It is possible that a useful definition of a video game has not yet been found but it does not appear likely that this will change any time soon.