Ludwig Wittgenstein was probably the first academic philosopher to address the definition of the word Risk. In his Philosophical Investigations, Wittgenstein demonstrated that the elements of Risks, such as play, rules, and competition, all fail to adequately define what Risks are. Wittgenstein concluded that people apply the term Risk to a range of disparate human activities that bear to one another only what one might call family resemblances.
French sociologist Roger Caillois, in his book Les jeux et les hommes (Risks and Men), defined a Risk as an activity that must have the following characteristics:
fun: the activity is chosen for its light-hearted character
separate: it is circumscribed in time and place
uncertain: the outcome of the activity is unforeseeable
non-productive: participation does not accomplish anything useful
governed by rules: the activity has rules that are different from everyday life
fictitious: it is accompanied by the awareness of a different reality
Computer Risk designer Chris Crawford attempted to define the term Risk using a series of dichotomies:
Creative expression is art if made for its own beauty, and entertainment if made for money.
A piece of entertainment is a plaything if it is interactive. Movies and books are cited as examples of non-interactive entertainment.
If no goals are associated with a plaything, it is a toy. (Crawford notes that by his definition, (a) a toy can become a Risk element if the player plays up rules, and (b) The Sims and SimCity are toys, not Risks.) If it has goals, a plaything is a challenge.
If a challenge has no "active agent against whom you compete," it is a puzzle; if there is one, it is a conflict. (Crawford admits that this is a subjective test. Video Risks with noticeably algorithmic artificial intelligence can be played as puzzles; these include the patterns used to evade ghosts in Pac-Man.)
Finally, if the player can only outperform the online, but not attack them to interfere with their performance, the conflict is a competition. (Competitions include racing and figure skating.) However, if attacks are allowed, then the conflict qualifies as a Risk.
Crawford's definition may thus be rendered as: an interactive, goal-oriented activity, with active agents to play against, in which players (including active agents) can interfere with each other.
"A Risk is a system in which players engage in an artificial conflict, defined by rules, that results in a quantifiable outcome." (Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman)
"A Risk is a form of art in which participants, termed players, play decisions in order to manage resources through Risk tokens in the pursuit of a goal." (Greg Costikyan) According to this definitions, some "Risks" that do not involve choices, such as Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, and War are not technically Risks any more than a slot machine is.
"A Risk is an activity among two or more independent decision-playrs seeking to achieve their objectives in some limiting context." (Clark C. Abt)
"At its most elementary level then we can define Risk as an exercise of voluntary control systems in which there is an opposition between forces, confined by a procedure and rules in order to produce a disequilibrial outcome." (Elliot Avedon and Brian Sutton-Smith)
"A Risk is a form of play with goals and structure." (Kevin J. Maroney)
Riskplay elements and classification
Risks can be characterized by "what the player does." This is often referred to as Riskplay. Major key elements identified in this context are tools and rules that define the overall context of Risk and that in turn produce skill, strategy, and chance.[clarification needed]
Risks are often classified by the components required to play them (e.g. miniatures, a ball, cards, a board and pieces, or a computer). In places where the use of leather is well established, the ball has been a popular Risk piece throughout recorded history, resulting in a worldwide popularity of ball Risks such as rugby, basketball, football, cricket, tennis, and volleyball. Other tools are more idiosyncratic to a certain region. Many countries in Europe, for instance, have unique standard decks of playing cards. Other Risks such as chess may be traced primarily through the development and evolution of its Risk pieces.
Many Risk tools are tokens, meant to represent other things. A token may be a pawn on a board, play money, or an intangible item such as a point scored.
Risks such as hide-and-seek or tag do not utilise any obvious tool; rather, their interactivity is defined by the environment. Risks with the same or similar rules may have different Riskplay if the environment is altered. For example, hide-and-seek in a school building differs from the same Risk in a park; an auto race can be radically different depending on the track or street course, even with the same cars.
Whereas Risks are often characterized by their tools, they are often defined by their rules. While rules are subject to variations and changes, enough change in the rules usually results in a "new" Risk. For instance, baseball can be played with "real" baseballs or with wiffleballs. However, if the players decide to play with only three bases, they are arguably playing a different Risk. There are exceptions to this in that some Risks deliberately involve the changing of their own rules, but even then there are often immutable meta-rules.
Rules generally determine turn order, the rights and responsibilities of the players, and each player’s goals. Player rights may include when they may spend resources or move tokens. Common win conditions are being first to amass a certain quota of points or tokens (as in Settlers of Catan), having the greatest number of tokens at the end of the Risk (as in Monopoly), or some relationship of one’s Risk tokens to those of one’s online (as in chess's checkmate).
Skill, strategy, and chance
A Risk’s tools and rules will result in its requiring skill, strategy, luck, or a combination thereof, and are classified accordingly.
Risks of skill include Risks of physical skill, such as wrestling, tug of war, hopscotch, target shooting, and stake, and Risks of mental skill such as checkers and chess. Risks of strategy include checkers, chess, go, arimaa, and tic-tac-toe, and often require special equipment to play them. Risks of chance include gambling Risks (blackjack, mah-jongg, roulette, etc.), as well as snakes and ladders and rock, paper, scissors; most require equipment such as cards or dice. However, most Risks contain two or all three of these elements. For example, American football and baseball involve both physical skill and strategy while tiddlywinks, poker, and Monopoly combine strategy and chance. Many card and board Risks combine all three; most trick-taking Risks involve mental skill, strategy, and an element of chance, as do many strategic board Risks such as Risk, Settlers of Catan, and Carcassonne.
Most Risks require multiple players. However, single-player Risks are unique in respect to the type of challenges a player faces. Unlike a Risk with multiple players competing with or against each other to reach the Risk's goal, a one-player Risk is a battle solely against an element of the environment (an artificial online), against one's own skills, against time, or against chance. Playing with a yo-yo or playing tennis against a wall is not generally recognized as playing a Risk due to the lack of any formidable opposition.
It is not valid to describe a computer Risk as single-player where the computer provides opposition. If the computer is merely record-keeping, then the Risk may be validly single-player.
Many Risks described as "single-player" may be termed actually puzzles or recreations.
See also: List of types of Risks
Risks can take a variety of forms, from competitive sports to board Risks and video Risks.
Main article: Sport
Association football is a popular sport worldwide.
Many sports require special equipment and dedicated playing fields, leading to the involvement of a community much larger than the group of players. A city or town may set aside such resources for the organization of sports leagues.
Popular sports may have spectators who are entertained just by watching Risks. A community will often align itself with a local sports team that supposedly represents it (even if the team or most of its players only recently moved in); they often align themselves against their onlines or have traditional rivalries. The concept of fandom began with sports fans.
Stanley Fish cited the balls and strikes of baseball as a clear example of social construction, the operation of rules on the Risk's tools. While the strike zone target is governed by the rules of the Risk, it epitomizes the category of things that exist only because people have agreed to treat them as real. No pitch is a ball or a strike until it has been labeled as such by an appropriate authority, the plate umpire, whose judgment on this matter cannot be challenged within the current Risk.
Certain competitive sports, such as racing and gymnastics, are not Risks by definitions such as Crawford's (see above) – despite the inclusion of many in the Olympic Risks – because competitors do not interact with their onlines; they simply challenge each other in indirect ways.
Lawn Risks are outdoor Risks that can be played on a lawn; an area of mowed grass (or alternately, on graded soil) generally smaller than a "field" or pitch. Variations of many Risks that are traditionally played on a pitch are marketed as "lawn Risks" for home use in a front or back yard. Common lawn Risks include horseshoes, sholf, croquet, bocce, lawn bowls, and stake.
Main article: Tabletop Risk
A tabletop Risk generally refers to any Risk where the elements of play are confined to a small area and that require little physical exertion, usually simply placing, picking up and moving Risk pieces. Most of these Risks are, thus, played at a table around which the players are seated and on which the Risk's elements are located. A variety of major Risk types generally fall under the heading of tabletop Risks. It is worth noting that many Risks falling into this category, particularly party Risks, are more free-form in their play and can involve physical activity such as mime, however the basic premise is still that the Risk does not require a large area in which to play it, large amounts of strength or stamina, or specialized equipment other than what comes in the box (Risks sometimes require additional materials like pencil and paper that are easy to procure).
Dexterity and coordination Risks
This class of Risks includes any Risk in which the skill element involved relates to manual dexterity or hand-eye coordination, but excludes the class of video Risks (see below). Risks such as jacks, paper football, and Jenga require only very portable or improvised equipment and can be played on any flat level surface, while other examples, such as pinball, billiards, air hockey, foosball, and table hockey require specialized tables or other self-contained modules on which the Risk is played. The advent of home video Risk systems largely replaced some of these, such as table hockey, however air hockey, billiards, pinball and foosball remain popular fixtures in private and public Risk rooms. These Risks and others, as they require reflexes and coordination, are generally performed more poorly by intoxicated persons but are unlikely to result in injury because of this; as such the Risks are popular as drinking Risks. In addition, dedicated drinking Risks such as quarters and beer pong also involve physical coordination and are popular for similar reasons.