Every so often a game will come out that prompts game journalists to take a second glance at their terminology. When Mass Effect 2 trimmed most of the original’s already spartan RPG elements, many wondered, “What is an RPG?” When StarCraft 2 was developed with more competitive consideration than story, the question “What is a sport?” inevitably arose. Questions like these can be useful, but there’s a larger one that hasn’t received enough attention, and that is “What is a video game?”
There was a time when the term “video game” was inclusive enough for just about any piece of interactive, virtual entertainment. But as games have rapidly become far more complicated, “video game” has long been outgrown as a meaningful term. Mario Party, Leisure Suit Larry, Shadow of the Colossus, Guitar Hero, Limbo, and Resident Evil are all considered “video games,” even though anyone with a passing knowledge of these examples can tell you that they’re nothing alike. The only common denominator among them is that they’re all experienced with a controller in hand, and with the advent of motion controls and touchscreens, games aren’t even qualified by the controller anymore.