Summary re play

Play/games and possibilities with toys hang literally like planets in the universe (the universal environment) and are subject to the different, random variation in conditions around them.

 -    Play with a toy is like an atom or a ball!

-     External features propose and limit their size.

-     The contents, the eco-social environment, are formed differently and vary according to different constellations.

-     Games are good or bad determined by and subject to these existential conditions - as the model demonstrates.

-     Play with toys can be harmonious - as a ball is.

-     If it is rounded, it will have the natural ability to move in the desired direction or in a random direction. But play can also be - and often is - “lumpy” or awkward which is why it stops dead, comes to a halt and remains in a locked or unmoving situation.

-     If there are changes inside it, in its eco-social environment, its centre of gravity shifts which can lead to a change in its form - which gets it moving again.


The game

A game is an exercise in voluntary control systems in which there is a mutual competition between the power and energies of the players, limited and controlled by the rules of the game, the objective being to achieve an unequal result.

  • Sport/competitive sportare games in the same way many strange and wonderful kinds of play are games.
  • Life games” are games and play which human beings use on and with each other both to cheat and reward each other.
  • Sport is a game played in which there are a variety of physical activities, attitudesand modes of behaviour.
  • Competitive sportis a refined, perfected activity of the players’ physical and psychological constitution and behaviour - relative to elements in the game and to mastery of the finer points of that game.

This is in fact the decisive difference between the practised/trained and unpractised/untrained persons in relation to the question of mastering a game.

The individual player co-operates with the others. The quality of co-operation on the basis of the individual players’ abilities will be decisive for the result of the game. What is also decisive for the result of the game, however, is that the game’s norms and rules are clear and obvious and are both understood and accepted by all the players.

It is difficult to compare and distinguish the similarities between play and games but there are two areas in which they differ i.e. a) the limitation in the game due to rules, time and space and b) the attempt in the game to identify a winner.

More precisely, the differences between play and games, sport and competitive sport can be compared thus:



All games simulate a “reality” of some kind, type or description. Games have marginal assumptions which consist of eight levels:

  • EVENT- for the occurrence of the game
  • PERSONALITY- persons’ gender, ages and experience
  • REIFICATION- description and quality of the requisites
  • TIME- limited or predetermined
  • RESOURCES- put into the game
  • TECHNOLOGY- conditions for the game
  • HEREDITY- the game’s traditions and history.
  • SPACE - area of the game and its limits


The game and its players

Over the years, many attempts have been made to construct classification systems for types of games. This is difficult and has yet to be achieved with complete success.

Sutton-Smith (1978) states that the reason for this is the relativistic motivation that when a game is played, it represents an incredibly large number of strategies and cultural expressions.    

The many and varied types of games refer to a broad variety of traditions which again are rooted in different economic, technical, political and sociological principles and their development.

Attitudes, concepts and ideas which lie behind these are ideologically oriented, he says. In addition, the way the game is played is also affected by age, gender, experience and aptitudes/pre-disposition for the finer points of the game and other special abilities.

As a game is always regarded and interpreted from an ideological point of view, a game’s ideology can be described as:

  • a system of specified concepts and possibilities which come to expression via the players’ way of playing the game.

The finer points of a game and special aspects, rules and qualities can very reasonably be called the game’s ideological being.

The finer points, the game’s expression and core, which are seen by the player through object transformation and metacommunication, are probably the only factor which can be classified with any certainty but their importance can vary significantly within the same game, depending on the relative combinations and relations between:

PHYSIQUE/PSYCHE        aptitude, skills, perseverance, stamina, intellect


STRATEGY                       plan, structure, solution, hypothesis, possibility


CHANCE                           chance decisions, risky possibilities


CHEATING                        cheat, delude or trick the opponent


ORDER                             turn order into chaos or chaos into order

It is up to the game’s manager, referee or judge to ensure that the rules and the correct attitude and behaviour are maintained within the permitted ideological limits and rules of the game.

It should be noted (cf. Caillois (1958:65) and chapter 14) that each individual game also outlines what constitutes morally correct, “good behaviour” relative to the rules of the game. Caillois classifies and arranges play and games according to quality - dependent on the cultural and social frameworks in which they are played and based on three quality norms:

  • the cultural forms, bordering on social life,
  • the institutional forms, which are socially integrated and
  • corruption, the expression of which can here be paraphrased to a game:


Competition              - violence, ruthlessness, cheat, tease, irritate

Chance                    - exaggeration, ruthlessness, dominate

Simulation                - indifference, coldness, exaggerate own abilities

Euphoria                  - overreaction when leading, jeering at opponent, slating the opposition.

There are several ideological dimensions, in the form of pairs of opposites which are always prerequisites for a game. Further, there are cultural limitations between one pair of variables which are opposites i.e.:

  • imaginationand social proximity connected to women and girls, and
  • prestige, heroism, masteryand individuality connected with men and boys.



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