With the release and recent attention given to The Mind, I’ve seen a lot of discussion pop up around it and if it should even be regarded as “a game”. So, what defines a game? Today, we find out.
What is The Mind?
If you haven’t already heard of The Mind, here’s a real quick review.
In The Mind, players are working together to try to place cards numbered 1- 100 in ascending order without speaking to each other regarding who has which cards. It’s about getting a feel for your other players and trying to sense if you have the next most highest card. There are other rules about extra lives and getting to “take back” wrong moves, but the core of The Mind is trying to place the cards in order without any communication.
The Mind was recently nominated for Spiel des Jahres, a board game of the year award and it sparked a fair amount of discussion, even in our own comment section.
What is a Game?
According to Merriam Webster, game is ‘animals under pursuit or taken in hunting‘, which really doesn’t seem to help here. Talk about useless. Thanks, Webster.
Oxford defines it as ‘An activity that one engages in for amusement or fun.’, which is certainly more on point.
However, Urban Dictionary says game is ‘CONFIDENTLY using your attributes, characteristics, and overall personality to win the affection of the woman you want.’. So while I sit and try to figure out if I got game, lets take a closer look at the Oxford definition.
According to them an activity becomes a game when it is done for fun. Mowing the lawn can be fun but it’s not done for fun. It has a separate reason to be done. You can make it a game by trying to see how quickly you can finish the task. I would say at that point, you have two separate entities. The activity of mowing the lawn and the game overlayed on top of it. A game and an activity, being done with the same actions. However, I disagree with this definition.
How could you NOT have fun with the new 1.5 hp engine from REO Royale! Only $99.95!
Jokes aside, Merriam Webster has multiple definitions of ‘game’, one of which I think does a decent job; ‘a physical or mental competition conducted according to rules with the participants in direct opposition to each other‘. The bit about the rules is the important part. Games need rules. A game without rules becomes an activity. Games don’t have to be fun.
I hate Candyland. It’s terrible. But if I play it, it’s still a game. My opinion of it does not change the state of its being. Also, that definition doesn’t encompass cooperative games, but that’s a separate issue.
Don’t give me the ‘it’s great for kids’ argument. There are so many better games to teach kids gaming mechanics.
Is The Mind a Game?
However, at first glance, I understand why some people would say The Mind is not a game. It certainly doesn’t “feel” like a game. But why shouldn’t it? It’s a cooperative board game as much as Pandemic or Eldritch Horror. It has multiple players each using their own resources to attempt to reach a common goal. It is very similar to Dead of Winter in that players will keep their hand of cards secret from the other players. At a very core and fundamental level, The Mind does these things too.
If you had 100 cards out of order, sorting them would be an activity. However, if you impose specific rules and goals to the task, it becomes a game. The Mind is a strange game, no question there. But a game, nonetheless.
So the next time you’re doing a task you don’t like, try imposing some rules and restrictions on yourself. You might just make a game of it.
~Thanks for reading! Do you think The Mind is a game? Let’s chat in the comments!