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A game is structured playing, usually undertaken for enjoyment and sometimes used as an educational tool. Games are distinct from work, which is usually carried out for payment, and from art, which is more often an expression of aesthetic or ideological elements. However, the distinction is not clear-cut, and many games are also considered to be work, such as professional players of spectator games, or art, such as jigsaw puzzles or games involving an artistic layout such as Mahjong, solitaire, or some video games.

Key components of games are goals, rules, challenge, and interaction. Games generally involve mental or physical stimulation, and often both. Many games help develop practical skills, serve as a form of exercise, or otherwise perform an educational, simulational, or psychological role.

Attested as early as 2600 BC, games are a universal part of human experience and present in all cultures. The Royal Game of Ur, Senet, and Mancala are some of the oldest known games.

Games today span several categories including computer, console and board/card games. Though board and card games is one of the oldest forms of gaming the industry has seen a massive rise in recent years - growing 15%-20% per year since 2008. Popular board/card games include: Settlers of Catan, Smash Up, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, Magic: The Gathering, Cards Against Humanity, Exploding Kittens and Cul-De-Sac Conquest.

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A copper engraving of the Turk, showing the open cabinets and working parts
The Turk, also known as the Mechanical Turk or Automaton Chess Player, was a fake chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century. From 1770 until its destruction by fire in 1854, it was exhibited by various owners as an automaton, though it was exposed in the early 1820s as an elaborate hoax.[1] Constructed and unveiled in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734–1804) to impress the Empress Maria Theresa, the mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent, as well as perform the knight's tour, a puzzle that requires the player to move a knight to occupy every square of a chessboard exactly once.

The Turk was in fact a mechanical illusion that allowed a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine. With a skilled operator, the Turk won most of the games played during its demonstrations around Europe and the Americas for nearly 84 years, playing and defeating many challengers including statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. Although many had suspected the hidden human operator, the hoax was revealed only in the 1820s by the Londoner Robert Willis.[2] The operator(s) within the mechanism during Kempelen's original tour remains a mystery. When the device was later purchased in 1804 and exhibited by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, the chess masters who secretly operated it included Johann Allgaier, Boncourt, Aaron Alexandre, William Lewis, Jacques Mouret, and William Schlumberger.

Owing to the Turk's popularity and mystery, its construction inspired a number of inventions and imitations, including Ajeeb, or "The Egyptian", an American imitation built by Charles Hopper that President Grover Cleveland played in 1885, and Mephisto, the self-described "most famous" machine, of which little is known.

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A Nintendo GameCube console shown with memory card and a standard controller
Credit: Evan-Amos (2012)
A Nintendo GameCube console shown with memory card and a standard controller

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A screenshot from the game The Splatters

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  1. ^ See SCHAFFER, Simon (1999), "Enlightened Automata", in Clark et al. (Eds), The Sciences in Enlightened Europe, Chicago and London, The University of Chicago Press, pp. 126-165.
  2. ^ See, for instance, his An Attempt to Analyse the Automaton Chess Player, London, 1821
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