Webster’s dictionary defines ‘game’ as, “A physical or mental competition conducted according to rules with the participants in direct opposition to each other.” Gamasutra recently published an article arguing that the term “game” is no longer a valid form of labeling most of the “games” that are released today. The article argues that a game developer has so much control over the design and function of the game that it becomes more of an interactive piece of artwork rather than a traditional ‘game’. They ask the question, “Can we come up with a term for single-player interactive experiences that moves beyond “games?”
Possibly… but it depends on the context. Most of the new ‘games’ released today are not necessarily more than games. They are rather a new form of interactive entertainment. For example, in the digital world we don’t often use the term “toy” anymore. I would personally consider Minecraft to be an interactive toy. Minecraft allows you to explore a world with no boundaries and discover new mechanics that eventually aid you in creating your own “game”. There are no rulings and there is no scoring.
I think many new products released today like ‘Gone Home’ could be considered puzzles if we want to label them simply as interactive systems. They have one or multiple pre-set solutions that are solved by going through them and completing the challenge without rank. So, “Can we come up with a term for single-player interactive experiences that moves beyond “games?” Is saying that something is “not a game” a criticism or an attack on the product? I don’t think we should stop using the term “game” to describe new digital interactive products. However, developing new terms to label these products could be beneficial when describing what exactly the purpose/functions of these “games” are.