Thursday, 1 March 2007

Wittgenstein on games

The Idea of trying to define what a game is reminds me of a line from Charlie and the Chocolate factory “why is everything here so pointless?” (Charlie answers) “it’s candy it doesn’t need a point”. I believe this to also be true of game.

One can look at the origins of games such as chess, originally created to develop tactical thinking for the battlefield, or one can look at computer games like Doom II, which are there simply to entertain. When looking at the characteristic of a game one can take the approach of Wittgenstein and say that games have many different features such as skill, luck and competitiveness, or one can try to categorise games in genres such as action, beat-em ups, sports, fantasy, and so on. The genre method is a much more simple method and most of the time is not entirely accurate. Wittgenstein uses the analogy of comparing family resemblances to the resemblances between games; for example comparing Doom II to Civilization II, both games involve battles, discovering new areas of game play, and developing your character. According to Wittgenstein to understand the meaning of a ‘game’ one does not look for the common features but for the family resemblances. Therefore by there being similarities between Doom II and Civilisation II, does not mean that both of the games are in the same category of genre, in fact they are in quite different categories, but that is to do with the differences between the games not the similarities.