Game studies, or ludology, is the study of games, the act of playing them, and the players and cultures surrounding them. It is a discipline of cultural studies that deals with all types of games throughout history. This field of research utilizes the tactics of, at least, anthropology, sociology and psychology, while examining aspects of the design of the game, the players in the game, and finally, the role the game plays in its society or culture. Game studies is oftentimes confused with the study of video games, but this is only one area of focus; in reality game studies encompasses all types of gaming, including sports, board games, etc.
Before video games, game studies often only included anthropological work, studying the games of past societies. However, once video games were introduced and became mainstream, game studies were updated to perform sociological and psychological observations; to observe the effects of gaming on an individual, his or her interactions with society, and the way it could impact the world around us.
There are three main approaches to game studies: the social science approach asks itself how games affect people and uses tools such as surveys and controlled lab experiments. The humanities approach asks itself what meanings are expressed through games, and uses tools such as ethnography and patient observation. The industrial and engineering approach applies mostly to video games and less to games in general, and examines things such as computer graphics, artificial intelligence, and networking. Like other media disciplines, such as television and film studies, game studies often involves textual analysis and audience theory.