A game is an activity, a contest or a pastime in which players follow fixed rules to compete against one another. A game can be simple, such as Connect Four or Tic Tac Toe, or it may be complex, such as chess or Monopoly. A game can be played in teams or individually, by amateurs or professionals. Some games are competitive, while others are not. Some games involve physical activity, while others are mental or psychological. Some games are free, while others may be bought for money.

The aim of a game is usually to win, but there are many variations on this goal. The aims of a game may be specified by the rules, or the players can make up their own. For example, a player might want to collect as many tokens as possible in order to win the game. Other aims include scoring the most points or winning the highest number of tokens at the end of a game, or having a certain relationship between one’s own game tokens and those of an opponent (such as chess’s checkmate).

Games may be played alone or in groups; they can be physical or virtual; they can be for entertainment only, or for achievement as well. Some games have an audience of non-players, such as spectators watching a chess championship. Other games, such as hide-and-seek or tag, do not have an obvious audience.

Some academic work has compared the medium of a game to the medium of art. One stream of this discussion has focused on whether games can be artworks in their own right, with the argument that the interactive nature of a game allows for a unique type of interaction between artist and audience. Another approach has focused on the ways in which games can be used to create a particular world, and how this may be seen as a form of narratology.

Video games have become an increasingly important cultural phenomenon, and have led to the development of several distinct fields of study in the humanities. Two of the most prominent are ludology and narratology. Rather than examining video games as technical objects, these fields seek to understand them as artistic works that use interactive techniques to immerse the player in a world that can be understood as an alternate reality.

Other meanings of game range from a type of wild animal hunted for sport or to be cooked and eaten, to a scheme or plan to gain an advantage in an endeavor: To be game for something means that the person is willing to take risks or try new things. For instance, someone might say that they are “game for a hike in the woods” or that they are “game for an interview”.