I've decided to offer my definition for the word "game" to the greater internet, for scrutiny.
This is such a contentious debate and it's been built up as this unattainable holy grail to one day know what a Game Truly Is as if it's quantum physics or something. I think the main reason people have this problem is that they create their definitions not to understand more deeply, but rather to support their own ideas of what things are games and what things aren't. To that end, they start creating lists of features games need, like win conditions, challenge, blah, blah, blah. A difficulty curve!? Ugh.
The result is a muddy debate and definitions that can't be used in place of the word itself, which defeats the point of having definitions. You should be able to remove the word and insert its definition without changing the meaning of the sentence.
I'm not covering all the definitions for the word, just the one that describes a type of activity. There are other meanings, but this is the one of interest.
So, here's my definition:
Game (n): an inconsequential, voluntary activity with arbitrary rules.
Let's break that down.
|None of that.|
"First guy to die loses." That sort of thing. This particular example is known as a lose condition.