Is This A Videogame?

New Rule: If you can play it effectively with an elbow, it's not a videogame. Or how about this? If it only requires standing in front of a television and slightly leaning in different directions, it's not a videogame.

I'm joking of course but I'm doing so because I can't come up with anything serious. I've looked it up and although the definition works, and I don't necessarily disagree with it, I find myself thinking about the subject when playing a couple specific "videogames" lately. It's almost as if I feel guilty and that my time isn't being spent the way I intended; playing a videogame.

Before I go any further, here's the definition of a videogame on Wikipedia

An electronic game that involves human interaction with a user interface to generate visual feedback on a video device.

I like Merriam-Webster's definition a little better

An electronic game played by means of images on a video screen and often emphasizing fast action.

A couple months back I became addicted to a small title by the name of Tiny Tower. Seemed like a videogame at first but then it ended up becoming a grind with no interesting end goal. Yay, I can build more floors to my tower and cater to more needs of the people whom inhabit my building. With each new floor I added, the tedium increased. Making things even worse and the reason I began questioning whether it's a videogame, this all basically boiled down to touching the screen, waiting a minute or two, touching the screen, scroll up, scroll down, wait, touch, wait... Probably just need an elbow.

mobile_game_banner_com.mobage.ww.a560.tinytower_android.png

Maybe this is why they call them apps but I looked up the definition and yes, Tiny Tower is a videogame. This can't be right or so I told myself.

Other potential examples (sure is a gray area and I bet some of you could make your own lists), are games like Draw Something and Words With Friends. Excited by the prospects of my wife being a gamer, I'm not sure she qualifies by spending time each day playing those two games? But she plays videogames now so if the shoe fits... She does love buying shoes.

Merriam-Webster mentions "fast action" in their definition. I like that! Going way back, games like Contra, Centipede and Gradius had some fast action and are videogames through and through. Also brings to mind games like Super Stardust HD, Street Fighter IV, and Joe Danger to name just a few. Those are surely videogames, right? But so are turn-based RPG's and games with touch interfaces like Plants Vs Zombies and all of those don't include faster action elements.

Full disclosure, I play some of these games and even have fun doing so. Recently played through Journey on the PlayStation 3 and loved it so I'm not fully prepared to walk over the line even though there is no clear, new definition. Should there be?

What is a videogame and do the Wikipedia and Merriam-Webster definitions work for you? Or am I just being curmudgeon? Please share your thoughts and opinions below. Maybe even take a crack at how videogames should be defined in your opinion (if needs to be different from what I shared above).

Joel Sherfinski

Brookfield, WI 53005

Founder, Co-host & Producer