A game is a structured form of play, often undertaken for entertainment or fun, in which rules and goals are established. The activities involved in a game can involve any number of tools, from dice and cards to pawns on a board and play money. The game can be as simple or complex as desired. The game may also be adapted to suit different environments, for example, hide-and-seek in school is different from playing tag in the park.

Games are played for a variety of reasons, including competition, social interaction, and mental challenges. For thousands of years, people have enjoyed the thrill of competition, and have used games as a means to express creativity, develop social skills, and increase their physical health. Games can be viewed as a form of art, and many have become enduring classics that provide enjoyment for generations.

The term game can be applied to a wide range of activities, from sports and board games to card and video games. Some games require a high degree of skill and luck, while others simply depend on following the rules. In some cases, games are designed to be educational.

Most games contain some element of skill, strategy, or chance, and most often incorporate all three elements. For example, baseball and American football are games of physical skill, tiddlywinks is a game of chance, and poker and Monopoly are games of strategy. Games can be adapted to suit different environments, and the rules of a game can change as players adapt to new circumstances.

In mathematical terms, a game is a model of a competitive situation that identifies interested parties and stipulates the rules governing all aspects of the competition. Such models are important in game theory, which is the field of mathematics that studies these interactions. The mathematical game theory identifies the objectives of each player, the information and actions that are available to them at each decision point, and the payoffs for each outcome.

Regardless of their formal definitions, all games are characterized by the activity of playing them, which is referred to as gameplay. This activity engages the gamer’s perceptual, sensory, and cognitive faculties in a way that is not possible with other media. The first games in a new medium are frequently adaptations of older games, as was the case with the early tabletop video game Pong, which was an adaptation of tennis. More recent games are often designed to exploit the unique properties of a particular medium. For example, a video game with highly detailed graphics can offer an immersive environment that is quite different from the world of a television or film. In addition to providing a compelling narrative, some games allow the gamer to control the action on the screen, which is a feature not found in other forms of visual media.