A tv-channel advertised a free stock trading simulator, marketed as stocktrading game, and I must say it was quite fun. I started off with 100k of virtual Euro's and was allowed to invest it in stocks, options, indexes, resource futures and more. All investment options are linked to the rates in reality, and during the game you have the opportunity to do attend online masterclasses and small vid-courses on stock trading.
I thought it was quite fun, even though I once misunderstood the meaning of going short on a stock and lost thousands. Reading on stock trading was quite interesting, but also very sobering. Stock exchanges are a gathering of gambling, mass psychology and agenda setting. If I would trade with my own money? Well maybe after a bit more practice (40% interest in 8 weeks was not bad ^^).
Still there were no game elements added, the only element added was a leaderboard for short term profit. So here's the dilemma, I enjoyed the activity but does that make a game? There were rules and patterns to shape my behavior and reward points, but maybe a different perspective is needed.
Some parents have the amazing ability to make everything seem like a game to their children, even clearing away toys. But maybe here's where the secret lies, perspective. A lot of games can simply be analyzed as a series of actions strongly guided by mathematical principles, but an analysis like this is devout of user engagement. Games are fun because they satisfy our needs for challenge, arousal, social interaction and maybe even fantasy. However these factors are all very relative and related to our personal interests. So I would say that no mechanical discription of what games are would suffice, because it would ignore the state of mind needed to make a set of rules into a game. Mysteries, mysteries, well I'd better make a game of doing my laundry.
~I'm busy doing the fishstick. It's a very delicate state of mind~