From their historical origins games have provided us with dramatic models of the fundamental activities of humankind, such as sowing and harvesting (mancala games), war (chess) and construction (puzzles). However, games based on the same activity change significantly depending on the place and time they belong to, and therefore a comparative analysis between traditional games and videogames can give us a valuable and novel insight into the popular culture of our times. What are the main distinctive features used to represent war in military strategy videogames compared to those used in chess? What are the main differences between the most popular videoludic metaphors of construction and traditional puzzles? The aim of this article is to explore questions like these by making a comparative analysis of the underlying meanings of traditional games and popular videogames. The theoretical and methodological framework is based on game history, game design theory and theory of videogame meaning. The findings reveal elements that shed light on the nuances of meaning that distinguish traditional games from popular videogames of the same genre, and show that the analysis model conceived for this study could be of interest for further research. Finally, we reflect on the relationship between the underlying meanings of the videogames analyzed and certain distinctive aspects of contemporary culture.
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