Monday, 17 March 2014

Play and games; a closer look

Lately I feel the urge to broaden my personal view of games and the behaviour of play. I came to realise that I probably skipped a few steps by diving deep into the world of the motivation to play games. Games seem to be implicitly linked to so many things like the image of a child having fun, innocence, no serious implications, past-time silliness  and the behaviour of play itself. I'm probably not qualified to paint a picture of games and play that's sound in all the related areas of expertise like biology, neurology and anthropology. But I want to move forward in my understanding of games and will just give it a shot.

The behaviour implicitly linked to games is "play". Games are played, though sometimes we simply say we game*. That there are words created for these phenomena almost makes you forget that the behaviour of play is not exclusive to the human species. There does appear to be a minimal level of intelligence before playful behaviour is displayed. Playful ravens, wolfs, seals, felines are easy to imagine. Still it would be a blast if fish or Cephalopoda were found with playful behaviour. Regardless of the species, playful behaviour does seem to fade as age increases.

Playful behaviour of other beings should not be judged through human morality, else it can seem quite malignent.

Playful behaviour always seems to lack serious implications or a fixed goal. The seal in the previous video was not meant to be eaten, like a clean and efficient kill.

There are probably exceptions but a lot of playful behaviour seems to be embedded in social contact. Playing with others is more fun of course and creating cards to play solitaire seems to be a prerequisite for more intricate solo play. Unless monkeys program their first game.

Source: Wikimedia - New York Zoological Society

* A construct set up to facilitate play might even be the best definition of “game”, because the behaviour of play differs so much it's clearly hard to define universal characteristics of games.

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