A game is an activity that creates a fictional world to stimulate and entertain. It can require skill or strategy, luck or chance, or a combination thereof and may be played in a number of ways. Most games are socially structured, but can also be competitive, requiring a high level of skill to win. Games may be impromptu or planned, and can include activities as simple as tug of war or as complex as video games or board games. Regardless of their form, all games are intended to be fun for those who play them.

Games can be used as an outlet for emotions, tensions and stresses of life. They can also be used to learn and develop skills, such as arithmetic and vocabulary. A game can be played with one or more players, in teams, online, by professionals, amateurs or children; alone or with an audience. Some games are considered art, while others are simply entertainment and some are even pure narrative immersion with a visual support.

Whether it’s a sport, an association football match, a board game or a video game, there is much to be learned from the way games are organized and played. There is a significant body of literature regarding the definition of a game, with a few distinct approaches. Most scholars agree that a game is an interactive, goal-oriented activity that is made for pleasure, involves active opponents, and is characterized by specific rules (Crawford 1999; Bogost 2009). The definition is restricted to exclude games that involve no goal-orientated activity, such as toys, or where the objective is not to beat an opponent at the same activity, such as racing cars or figure skating.

Some games require a high degree of luck, such as lottery or gambling. These games can be analyzed formally using game theory, but must not be regarded as a real game in the sense of Crawford’s definition. This is because the random element is merely a determining factor in the standing of an individual or team within a particular game; it does not directly influence the outcome of any other player’s performance.

Many people believe that games are an important part of life for adults as well as children. Indeed, studies are increasingly showing that there are significant mental health benefits to playing games. In an increasingly pressurized world, games can help to relieve stress, improve cognitive function and promote social interaction.

It is very important for video game designers to understand the target audience for the games they are working on. This will help them to design the game in a way that appeals to the target audience and is suitable for a variety of devices and systems. Detailed descriptions of the interactivity required and the technology involved are also helpful to game developers and will prevent them from producing games that do not meet the expectations of their audiences. This is especially important in a era when mobile gaming is becoming a dominant force.