10.24.2005This is certainly old news as far as the internet goes, but I happened upon a /. article on Raph Koster's A Theory of Fun for Game Design. The article gives a few interesting quotes that readers here might find relevant.
The first section sets the stage by discussing what exactly a game is. "Games are puzzles to solve, just like everything else we encounter in life." Koster's thesis is, essentially, that games are learning puzzles. In his experience, simple games are created by children to teach themselves useful skills. More formal games have similar goals, but modern games exist almost entirely to provide the elusive substance of fun to the player.
At the end of the midsection, the eternal discussion of games as art makes an appearance. Instead of equivocating, Mr. Koster makes his opinion very clear. "Art, to me, is just taking craft seriously. It's about communication (as I have said many times, in the book and elsewhere). Taking what we do seriously, *even if for frivolous ends,* just leads to better work. Considering what you are doing to be art tends to emphasize high standards, experimentation, expression, thoughtfulness, and discipline -- even if your goal is to make a gag-a-day newspaper strip or macrame hangings for your window."
I find it interesting that Koster takes a definition of games and uses that to build a theory of art, a connection I hadn't previously considered. But I wonder how helpful his definition is; Koster is dealing with the project of designing games, which among other things assumes a method for solving. I suppose I have been attempting to formulate a question about what it is to solve games, and not what games are themselves independent (or at least assuming) a solver.