We had a little bit of a Sunday sleep-in, but not much. My wife and I took Scully for a long walk around the neighbourhood on our favourite route, and she got lots of running and ball chasing in. Later this afternoon we invited Luna, the poodle who lives next door, over for a play date, and she and Scully went bananas for half an hour. This is good, because it means they get tired and sleep well.
Besides doing some comic annotations I spent some time chatting with friends about matters arising from virtual games night on Friday. We played a custom implementation of Scattergories, and one of the categories was “Games played outdoors”, with the starting letter of “S”. Someone answered “Sports”, which caused much discussion over whether it was a valid answer or not.
The player argued that sports are indeed games played outdoors, and thus his answer should be valid. Others of us argued that the category was meant to encompass things like soccer and tennis, not an all-encompassing class of things like “sports”. This led today to a discussion of how to clarify rules of the game so as to define more clearly what sort of answers are acceptable.
In another example, someone had answered “Seven Dwarves” for “Movie characters”. Most of us thought this was perfectly fine, but the guy whose “Sports” was disqualified on a vote argued that this was the same sort of answer and should also be disqualified. This led to us today trying to reason out what about “Seven Dwarves” made it seem like a correct answer while “Sports” seemed like a wrong answer. An analogy was made: If the category was “Birds”, would “avians” be acceptable? Some of us thought yes, some thought no.
We eventually came down to a clarification that the answer should be “An example of the category”. Our feeling was that “(The) Seven Dwarves” is an example of “Movie characters” because the seven dwarves are a specific well-known, named set of characters (“six dwarves” would not be acceptable). “Avians” was not “an example of birds”, but rather a synonym of the entire category of birds. And “Sports” was not “an example of games played outdoors” – it was more like “avians” although not exactly synonymous with the category. (Also, some sports are played indoors, so the answer actually also includes some things not in the category.)
We were more or less happy with this. But then there was a flow-on discussion of what is a valid game anyway, as someone contended that soccer was in fact not a game – in his view sports and games were mutually exclusive; something could be one or the other, but not both. This discussion continued for several hours over the course of the day, and turned to asking questions such as whether a crossword puzzle is a game, or whether a Choose Your Own Adventure book is a game. Mark Rosewater’s definition of a game (which I think is pretty good, but not perfect) was cited and argued over.
This was all good natured, and not an angry argument in any way. It petered out eventually, and I think the basic conclusion was that “game” means different things to different people, and we’d never come up with a definition that everyone agreed with. And if it came up with Scattergories again, we’d just have to argue about it and make a case-by-case call.
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