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Parker Harris
Parker Harris

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What are Games and Why Do We Play Them?

Games are an integral part of all cultures and are one of the oldest forms of human social interaction. They can be played for entertainment, fun, education, or competition. But what exactly are games and why do we play them?

In this article, we will explore the definition and history of games, the different types of games that exist, the benefits of playing games, and how to choose the right game for you.

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The Definition and History of Games

A game is a structured form of play, usually undertaken for amusement or fun, and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for remuneration, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements.

Games have a long history that dates back to ancient times. Some of the earliest games were board games like Senet from ancient Egypt, dice games like Knucklebones from ancient Greece, and card games like Ganjifa from medieval India. Games were also used for religious rituals, military training, social gatherings, and gambling.

The Different Types of Games

Board Games

Board games are games that involve moving pieces on a pre-marked surface or board according to a set of rules. Some examples of board games are chess, checkers, Monopoly, Scrabble, and Clue. Board games can be played by two or more players and often require strategy, logic, memory, or luck.

Card Games

Card games are games that use playing cards as the primary device with which the game is played. Some examples of card games are poker, blackjack, solitaire, bridge, and rummy. Card games can be played by one or more players and often involve skill, chance, bluffing, or betting.

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Video Games

Video games are games that use electronic devices such as computers, consoles, handhelds, or mobile phones to display images and sounds on a screen. Some examples of video games are Super Mario Bros., Call of Duty, Minecraft, Fortnite, and Candy Crush Saga. Video games can be played by one or more players and often involve action, adventure, simulation, role-playing, puzzle-solving, or sports.

Sports Games

Sports games are games that involve physical activity and competition between individuals or teams. Some examples of sports games are soccer, basketball, tennis, golf, and cricket. Sports games can be played by two or more players and often involve skill, strength, speed, stamina, or coordination.

The Benefits of Playing Games

Cognitive Benefits

Playing games can have positive effects on our cognitive abilities such as attention, focus, memory, and perception. Playing games can also improve mental flexibility, which is the ability to switch between different tasks and adapt to changing situations. Some games, such as puzzle games, can also enhance spatial memory, which is the ability to remember the location and orientation of objects in space.

Emotional Benefits

Playing games can have positive effects on our emotional well-being, such as reducing stress levels, increasing self-esteem, and promoting prosocial behavior. Playing games can help us relax and have fun, which can lower our cortisol levels and increase our endorphins, the hormones that make us feel good. Playing games can also make us feel more confident and competent, especially when we achieve goals, overcome challenges, or win rewards. Playing games can also help us connect with others, empathize with their perspectives, and cooperate with them.

Social Benefits

Playing games can have positive social benefits, such as improving social connection, communication, and leadership skills. Playing games with others can help us build friendships, share experiences, and learn from each other. Playing games can also improve our communication skills, as we need to express ourselves clearly, listen actively, and give feedback. Playing games can also develop our leadership skills, as we need to coordinate strategies, delegate tasks, and motivate others.

How to Choose the Right Game for You

With so many types of games available, how do you choose the right game for you? Here are some tips to help you find your ideal game genre:

  • Think about what helps your brain relieve stress. Do you prefer fast-paced action or slow-paced strategy? Do you like to solve puzzles or explore worlds? Do you enjoy competition or cooperation? Choose a game that matches your preferred style of play and mood.

  • Consider what gaming hardware you have available. Do you have a computer, a console, a handheld device, or a mobile phone? Do you have a good internet connection or do you prefer offline games? Do you have a large screen or a small one? Choose a game that is compatible with your device and settings.

  • Consider where you prefer to relax. Do you like to play games at home or on the go? Do you like to play alone or with others? Do you like to play for long sessions or short bursts? Choose a game that suits your lifestyle and preferences.

  • Consider your gaming budget. How much are you willing to spend on a game? Do you prefer free-to-play games or premium games? Do you like to buy new games or wait for discounts? Do you mind paying for extra content or subscriptions? Choose a game that fits your budget and expectations.

  • Read game reviews and watch gameplay videos. Before you buy a game, do some research on what other players think about it. Read game reviews from reputable sources and watch gameplay videos from trusted channels. This will help you get an idea of what the game is like and whether it appeals to you.

  • Use a recommendation engine or talk to friends. If you are still unsure what game to play next, you can use a recommendation engine that suggests games based on your preferences and ratings. You can also talk to friends who share your gaming interests and ask them for recommendations.


Games are more than just a fun way to pass time; they are also a source of learning, health, and social benefits. Playing games can improve our cognitive abilities, emotional well-being, and social skills. However, not all games are suitable for everyone. To choose the right game for you, you need to consider your personality, device, setting, budget, and preferences. By following these tips, you can find your perfect game genre and enjoy the amazing world of gaming.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some popular game genres?

  • Some popular game genres are action-adventure (e.g., The Legend of Zelda), role-playing (e.g., Final Fantasy), simulation (e.g., The Sims), strategy (e.g., Civilization), sports (e.g., FIFA), puzzle (e.g., Tetris), and casual (e.g., Candy Crush).

What are some benefits of playing video games?

  • Some benefits of playing video games are improved reaction time, mental flexibility, spatial memory, and attentional capacity; reduced stress levels, increased self-esteem, and increased prosocial behavior; and improved social connection, communication, and leadership skills.

What are some drawbacks of playing video games?

  • Some drawbacks of playing video games are addiction, aggression, isolation, and health problems. Playing video games excessively can interfere with other aspects of life, such as work, school, family, and hobbies. Playing violent video games can increase aggressive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Playing video games alone can reduce social interaction and support. Playing video games for long periods can cause eye strain, headaches, neck pain, and obesity.

What are some tips for playing games safely and responsibly?

  • Some tips for playing games safely and responsibly are setting time limits, taking breaks, playing with moderation, choosing age-appropriate games, avoiding online harassment, and seeking help if needed. Setting time limits can help prevent addiction and maintain a balanced lifestyle. Taking breaks can help prevent eye strain and fatigue. Playing with moderation can help avoid negative effects on mood and behavior. Choosing age-appropriate games can help avoid exposure to inappropriate content and violence. Avoiding online harassment can help protect personal information and mental health. Seeking help if needed can help cope with gaming problems or addiction.

What are some trends in the gaming industry?

  • Some trends in the gaming industry are cloud gaming, virtual reality, augmented reality, mobile gaming, and esports. Cloud gaming is a service that allows players to stream games from remote servers without downloading or installing them. Virtual reality is a technology that creates an immersive and interactive simulation of a three-dimensional environment. Augmented reality is a technology that overlays digital information or images on the real world. Mobile gaming is a type of gaming that uses smartphones or tablets as the primary device. Esports is a form of competitive gaming that involves organized tournaments and professional players.

What are some resources for learning more about games?

  • Some resources for learning more about games are websites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, books, and documentaries. Websites such as IGN, GameSpot, Polygon, and Kotaku provide news, reviews, previews, and features on various games and platforms. Blogs such as Gamasutra, The A.V. Club, Rock Paper Shotgun, and Eurogamer offer insights, opinions, and analysis on the gaming industry and culture. Podcasts such as The Game Informer Show, Giant Bombcast, The Dice Tower, and Ludology discuss topics related to gaming in an audio format. Magazines such as Edge, PC Gamer, Nintendo Power, and Game Informer cover the latest trends and developments in gaming in a print format. Books such as A Theory of Fun for Game Design by Raph Koster, The Art of Game Design by Jesse Schell, Reality Is Broken by Jane McGonigal, and Blood, Sweat, and Pixels by Jason Schreier explore the history, theory, design, and impact of games in a literary format. Documentaries such as Indie Game: The Movie, The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, Free to Play, and Video Games: The Movie showcase the stories, challenges, and passions of game developers, players, and fans in a visual format.


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