This was not an examination of the works of the great American Mathematician John Nash but more an examination of the nature of games.

Our students began by attempting, in small groups to define a game. Such a definition should be applicable to any and every game. The resulting list was shared on the whiteboard: it must have an objective, it must end in a result, it must have at least one “player”, it must involve activity, it must have incentives, it must be enjoyable, it must be educative, it must have rules. An excellent set of criteria.

Students were told to try and challenge this list by finding a game which did not have one or more of these characteristics, thus refuting the criteria as it would no longer be applicable to any and every game. So for example, someone said a member of their family hated monopoly, so there is a game which exists without necessarily being enjoyable. After a few minutes all the criteria had been demolished. On the way the students had anticipated the Philosophies of Wittgenstein, Berkely and John Paul Sartre when they made the statements “There may be no point to any game” “What about a virtual game that no one is playing?” “I just created my own private game with its own rules.” You could decide which quote matches which writer.

Beyond all this interesting speculation about the nature of games, in the real world we all play games, we pretty much know what a game is and we don’t like losing. For some philosophers it doesn’t need to be more than that.