I see the importance in defining things because all learning seems to invariably start with understanding the terms. When I learned networking, at least half of the learning curve was understanding the terms, once I knew them, it became a lot easier to understand what was going on and how things worked together.
Again, when getting into game development there are a lot of terms one needs to learn to be able to discuss things with anyone else, and often to create anything by yourself. So even when you dont have to communicate outwardly, understanding terms of what has already been created or figured out becomes important.
While this is pretty easy to understand when trying to learn DirectX, or another API, because of their inherent use of special terminology, it becomes seemingly less important to define things in the overall sense. After all, everyone knows what a game is right?
Yet, as soon as someone tries to define what a game is, 20 other people have their own opinions and interpretations. Immediately this should throw up a flag that there is not a clear definition that is agreed upon about what a game is.
So, does there need to be a definition? Obviously if people are going to communicate a subject matter, there needs to be a common language they can use. Definitions for this purpose become critical. But what about personal use and learning?
IMO, this is just as important. Definitions are supposed to give an encompassing scope on the situation at hand. If a subject is defined, then any situation dealing with that subject should be covered by the definition. The more complete the definition, the more complete the understanding of the subject and the subject's components.
In dealing with game design, I think this can be seen rather clearly. With the definition that I have come to after a lot of thinking and discussing with different people, all elements of games seem to be covered quite clearly and there are several distinct pieces which can be extrapolated from this. Thereby giving me a roadmap to designing a game.
"An interactive, self-contained system of rules containing a challenge and a victory condition that defines a focused reality for the purpose of entertainment."
- A game must interact with the player.
- A game must state all the rules (even flexible rules) so that the player knows what must be done.
- A game must have some sort of challenge, an obstacle for the player.
- A game must be able to have some kind of victory condition. Something has to HAPPEN: win, lose, gain some sort of closure (even if this is just the highest score/level).
- A game by virtue of its rules and goals will define a small world/reality that all players understand commonly as the rules are there for all to see.
- A game is created for the purpose of entertainment.
Just by following the guidelines of these rules I can write a simple game by knowing the different stages involved. The concept of it mattering whether I know the definition or not is the same as any kind of concept of education, and I would personally rather be educated in a field I choose as my profession.