A game is an activity involving the use of rules and imagination. It is often social in nature and can be competitive, challenging or skill based. It can take the form of a board, card or video game. Games can be played alone, with a group or in teams and by amateurs or professionals. It may have an audience of non-players such as spectators at a chess championship, or players themselves can constitute their own audiences through turn taking and social interaction. Games can be educational, help develop practical skills or act as a simulator or exercise.

A key component of a game is the establishment of boundaries and a governing set of rules that shape the play of the game. This is a fundamentally different aspect of games than other forms of entertainment such as movies, books or sports. There is also a distinctly interactive element to games that makes them distinct from toys, although the boundaries between toy and game can be blurry depending on how the boundaries are defined.

Some games can be highly structured, with specific goals and a definite structure for how the players should interact. Others are sandboxes in which the player is free to explore a virtual world without a clearly defined plot or goal. Still other games are purely abstract, with no clear boundaries and only the vague suggestion of a story behind them.

Game is a cultural icon that is closely associated with childhood, but it can be enjoyed by people of all ages. It can be used to build connections with other people, and it can even help alleviate the stresses of everyday life. People don’t give up playing games when they get older, and in fact in a time of long-haul social distancing and mental health strains it is often a refuge for many.

A game is not just entertainment, but can be a tool to teach and train practical skills, provide a social context for discussion of controversial topics and even serve as a form of exercise or physical therapy. It can be as simple as a board of 2D blocks, or as complex as an immersive virtual world. Some games have a clear objective such as winning, or achieving an accomplishment. Others are simply a way to pass the time or relieve boredom.

Other terms that are frequently seen in game culture include: DLC – Downloadable Content (usually levels or costumes). ETA – Estimated Time of Arrival. FTW – For the Win. A phrase that is used to celebrate victory in a multiplayer game, implying that the person has “owned” their opponent. See pwned. Mech – A mechanoid that is used to fight, move or transport an in-game character. Often used to denote a type of vehicle or weapon. The term harkens back to the original Battletech, which used metal mechanoid models with removable armour that could be swapped out for different weapons.