Over the last 5 decades video games have come a long way and yet the vocabulary used to refer to them hasn't changed one bit.
But the issue isn't the definitions (although the play one seems unnecessarily harsh). Clearly these refer not just to video games but to games in general. The issue is how using this vocabulary is limiting the medium.
How does the vocabulary limit the medium? It limits the kinds of stories and themes that games can deal with. Because of the vocabulary people associate games with fun. While film and the novel can and have dealt with serious themes, games have tip toed around them.
Take The Boy and the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne and Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally. Both centered around the Holocaust and later made into films. They each have powerful narratives and yet there is nothing preventing the medium of games from tackling subjects like these, so why haven't they?
Not because games cannot deliver a narrative experience as powerful and immersive as that of the novel or film. But because of the vocabulary and how it restrains medium. Something just doesn't feel right about playing (or designing for that matter) games based on subjects like these because of how we associates games with fun.
Even mentioning these subjects when talking about video games seems insensitive. It's because of words like "play" and "game". If games are indeed a form of art we cannot use these same words when discussing every game. I'm not suggesting that games should not be fun, simply that all of them should not feel the need to be so.
It is true that video games are a young medium in comparison to cinema and the novel, but they have been around for over five decades. We are now beginning to see the medium mature and touch on themes dealt with by literature and cinema.
The vocabulary used to describe games thirty years ago no longer applies to all of the games today. Using it damages what could be, the games of the future.
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