A game is a form of interactive entertainment that combines elements of art, toy, entertainment and tool in the shape of an immersive experience. Historically, games have been seen as competitive, challenging, skill based and with some form of narrative support (either visual or written). However, video games also exist in the form of pure artistic immersion, deconstructed abstract, text-based adventures, and everything in between. Despite this, a consensus as to what defines a game seems to be elusive. This is likely due to the fact that many games can be interpreted in different ways and each interpretation can have its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

One of the more popular interpretations of a game comes from Bernard Suits who defined games as activities that require a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles within a structured framework of rules and evaluative criteria. This approach to a game is often referred to as the magic circle of play and it can be compared to other types of structured activity such as sports, work, and art.

A more recent and simpler take on a game was provided by Sid Meir, who argued that games are a series of interesting decisions that are made with player agency and determination. This approach emphasizes the value of players as intelligent agents able to make informed decisions in the context of a game, and that a game provides them with an environment in which they can practice navigating uncertainty.

Both of these interpretations emphasize the unique nature of a game, that they are not a natural part of quotidian life and that they have been created for their own purpose. They also highlight that the goals, challenges and outcomes of a game are often separate and unequal for each player. This is in contrast to the natural world, which offers more unified and diverse experiences for individuals.

While these perspectives have their own advantages and disadvantages, all of them are important as they give us a broad overview of the definition of game. It is worth noting, though that there is a risk that some research will focus on games without considering previous work in the field and thus miss what is unique about them.

This issue of selective reporting is particularly relevant in the context of research on the relationship between video games and well-being. Studies that rely on self-reports of game playing are prone to biases and limitations, which are exacerbated by the difficulty of measuring digital behaviours. As such, it is crucial that future work takes greater care to report its findings with transparency.

It is not impossible to define a game, but it is essential that definitions be taken into consideration when designing and studying games. This will help to ensure that any study of games is not confined to a limited set of features or based on pre-determined assumptions about what constitutes a game. This will enable researchers to develop better tools and techniques for the evaluation of games, as well as a clearer understanding of their benefits and harms.