“Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.” — Bernard Suits, quoted in Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken
Is learning physics a game? Is doing physics a game? Does it depend on how obligated we feel to do any particular task? Is attending university voluntary (or compelled by social and/or economic considerations), and if so, does that make the whole endeavor a game? Taking any particular course may or may not be voluntary; doing homework, lab reports, etc. rarely is.
Why does this matter? Because in general, people like games, and often reach their best performance (think flow state) while playing games. Perhaps we ought to be learning from the game design industry.