We can construct a concise model for the concepts of play and games (similar to the model for toys and play with them but containing a different constellation of instances):

In play and in games, the person-at-play/player plays the same roles as sender and recipient.

The roles are however constantly changing places and have different functions as sender and recipient but also as object, story and interpretant.

THE CREATOR, ORGANISER AND MANAGER are central functions in play which involve power within play or within the game.

But the ACTOR(S) AND AUDIENCE are significant factors in the play process. From time to time the roles change and other functional roles take charge.

In Part 3, Sutton-Smith and the relativity of play, in the section on “quadreologic communication”, we will investigate these roles and functions in more detail. The roles and functions individually are particularly qualitative and dynamic. In their own way, they scan those limited spheres of investigation which are connected to the function. Here too the spheres of investigation and the triads (physics, biology, psychology, physiology, logic and metaphysics) are the motivational basis for Peirce’s research triads.

Play is unpredictable, games too. The permutations are numerous:

The persons-at-play/players exploit one another in a complicated I/Thou and I/It relationship where from time to time a “third person” materialises, giving rise to a Thou/It relationship, which operates on the lines of another “toy” or as an “object”.

The communicative relationship and the exchange of signs between players is determined by the following:

Channels of communication between the persons-at-play/players are drawn up so that they meet at the intersections. These intersections illustrate the persons-at-play’s moments of recognition during which there is an understanding of the inner logic of the case relations.

There are two sets of intersections (as in the model for toys):

  • Where the persons-at-play receive reality’s messages and possibilities in relation to the roles and positions they undertake within play/the game.
  • Where the players must classify and distinguish between the play relationshipsand expressions in relation to other, similar games (about rules, norms and fixed points).

The events which occur at the intersections particularly fulfil the conditions for firstness play.

The case relations, which are play’s and life’s existential moments, are filled with confrontations, conflicts and new recognition on mutual relationships between things/elements, exactly as in secondness play.

The case relations as concepts of being are based on the play theories of Buydendijk, Huizinga, Chateau, Caillois and Sutton-Smith. These case relations (as semconfigurations in the communication between the persons-at-play) are constantly changing, appear in random order and change position within the model, are as follows:




re play


the person-at-play’s complete understanding for the nature of play, through which he becomes conscious of the quality of play



situations within play where the persons-at-play disagree or oppose one another usually over decisions/rules or over who should have which toy and perform certain roles and functions



the euphoria of play, “getting high on play”, etc. - concentration and fascination with moments or situations in/about play/the game



contention where the persons-at-play try to settle differences by competing against each other



where the persons-at-play master (or give themselves the ability to master) something or are able to do some specific thing



the extremes or poles within which play can be placed




presentation of a process or a manifestation of a particular understanding, adopting/displaying attitude to something in particular



mastery of or adherence to rules or attitudes to play, often where the persons-at-play are tempted to “cheat”/act contrary to agreed rules for the game



Forms in play can be free, separate, uncertain, unproductive, regulated or fictive. Play is often a mix of forms.



Time taken to play but also the game’s historical time dimension. Play’s space is the play’s free or limited area.



Finally, we must mention the initial assumptions. As earlier mentioned, these are the visible or invisible characteristics which apply for the collection of elements or moments which are the core of the play/action. The game, like the toy is split into five main groups: people/social relations, animals, instruments, system and nature.

Concerning the model:

It is important to note that NONE of the concepts featured in the model are static in relation to any of the other concepts.

Their respective positions crystallise according to where (the circumstances) and how (the ways in which) the concepts originate and react within play.

Play with a toy, play itself or playing a game are “unique” - because play occurs, progresses and dies never to be played again. Whenever a game is repeated, it is a new game in which all the constituent concepts are dynamically re-mixed. New dynamic structures appear all the time. The sheer numbers of variables means that it is both wrong and impossible to say much about play or a game in advance. Every individual game must be explained by the forms it assumes.

Play and the person-at-play

The external border for the eco-social environment contains 5 levels:

  • Event
  • Personality
  • Reification
  • Time
  • Space



The internal intersections contain the universal pragmatic concepts:

  • Understanding
  • Truth
  • Truthfulness
  • Legitimacy
  • Will

Internal and external intersections

  • Channels of communication and communicative factors

The core of the text (and poetic function)



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