The word game may refer to any competitive activity involving skill, chance or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules. Examples include flag football, ping-pong and bridge. It can also refer to one particular occasion of such an activity, or a definite portion thereof: The team won the game five points to three. Alternatively, the term may be used to describe an event that involves the competing of teams or individuals in any of a variety of sports: the Olympics, golf and tennis are all games. A game can be played with any number of participants, and the rules can vary considerably. Some games are simple, such as Connect Four or Tic Tac Toe; others, like basketball or professional baseball, are complex and require immense physical exertion and mental acuity to master. Most games are played for fun, although they may be played for money or prestige, as in the case of sports or board games such as chess or Monopoly.

The earliest video games were simply simulations of other activities, such as table tennis or basketball. As processing power improved, new genres of games were developed that featured action and adventure. Today’s computer and console games often use multiple input devices such as a joystick, controller, keyboard or directional controls and display visual feedback on a screen, such as a television set, flat-panel display, touchscreen on handheld devices or virtual reality headset. Some also allow haptic feedback from a vibrating pad or other device that simulates the feeling of touching objects or characters in the game.

Several different definitions for game have been proposed, the most common of which is that a game is a system of rules designed to create a conflict between players, or between the player and the environment or a random factor. In contrast, a toy, such as a yo-yo or a teddy bear, does not meet this definition, because the interaction is usually only with oneself or the toy itself and does not involve any adversaries.

A further definition of a game is that it is an activity that imposes a series of obstacles to reach the objective, which must be overcome through inefficient means. This contrasts with a competition, such as racing or figure skating, in which the opponent’s actions are information that cannot be predicted.

A game can be a social experience that provides an outlet for people who are otherwise too introverted to interact with other members of society, and it can teach people how to make good decisions. In the context of computer games, it can also serve to distract the user from real-world problems by offering a safe and engaging way to explore alternative futures. For some gamers, this can become an addiction. In some cases, problematic gaming has been linked to negative psychological outcomes such as poor academic performance, lower psychosocial well-being and loneliness, depression and stress, maladaptive coping strategies and social withdrawal.