What Do We Mean by “Game”?

In this chapter, when we say “games,” we’re talking about computer games of one form or another. An online game is simply a computer game that is played using the Internet.

I should note that in this chapter we are specifically not talking about gambling (online or otherwise). Whether there’s a computer involved, gambling is already something the brethren have consistently counseled against for a very long time, and we don’t really need to say much more than what they’ve already said about it. (Hint: Don’t gamble.)

Online games can be played on a variety of Internet-enabled devices (such as smart phones, gaming consoles, or personal computers). Online gaming often (but not always) involves playing with other gamers on the Internet. Online games may be as simple as a standalone single player game like Bejeweled, or as elaborate as a massive multiplayer role-playing game like World of Warcraft with millions of users interacting at any given time.

To lay a foundation for our discussion of gaming, we’ll first look at three axes along which computer games fall and then discuss how these axes potentially affect users of these systems.

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