Start your review of Man, Play and Games Write a review Shelves: philosophy , sports Building off of Johan Huizingas account read my review , Roger Caillois, in Man, Play and Games, introduces an expanded and more exhaustive account of play. Huizinga put forward the thesis of showing how culture and play interact, support and emerge out of each other. Caillois goal is different; he wants to provide an exhaustive, descriptive account of play in all its variations and forms. He starts by recapitulating Huizingas account and discussing what he regards as its short comings. According to Huizinga, play is a voluntary activity with fixed rules that create a special order residing outside the ordinary pattern of life.

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Biography[ edit ] Caillois was born in Reims , but moved to Paris as a child. With Georges Bataille he founded the College of Sociology , a group of intellectuals who lectured regularly to one another. During the war he was active in fighting the spread of Nazism in Latin America as an editor and author of anti-Nazi periodicals.

From to , he lived in South America. In , he started to write a book with the painter Bernard Mandeville. He is also widely cited in the nascent field of ludology , primarily from passages in his book Les Jeux et les Hommes Huizinga had discussed the importance of play as an element of culture and society. He used the term "Play Theory" to define the conceptual space in which play occurs, and argued that play is a necessary though not sufficient condition for the generation of culture.

It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it. It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules and in an orderly manner. It promotes the formation of social groupings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means.

He also noted the considerable difficulty in arriving at a comprehensive definition of play, concluding that play is best described by six core characteristics: 1. Caillois distinguished four categories of games: Agon , or competition.

Alea , or chance, the opposite of Agon, Caillois describes Alea as "the resignation of will, an abandonment to destiny. Mimicry , or mimesis, or role playing Caillois defines it as "When the individual plays to believe, to make himself or others believe that he is different from himself. Ilinx Greek for "whirlpool" , or vertigo , in the sense of altering perception by experiencing a strong emotion panic, fear, ecstasy the stronger the emotion is, the stronger the sense of excitement and fun becomes.

Caillois also described a dualistic polarity within which the four categories of games can be variously located: Paidia or uncontrolled fantasy, spontaneous play through improvisation, the rules of which are created during playing time. Ludus which requires effort, patience, skill, or ingenuity, the rules are set from the beginning and the game was designed before playing time. Huizinga had argued in Homo Ludens that the risk of death or of losing money corrupts the freedom of "pure play". Thus to Huizinga, card-games are not play but "deadly earnest business".

Moreover, Huizinga considered gambling to be a "futile activity" which inflicts damage on society. Thus Huizinga argued that gambling is a corruption of a more original form of play.

Against this, Caillois argued that gambling is a true game, a mode of play that falls somewhere between games of skill or competition and games of chance i. Whether or not a game involves money or a risk of death, it can be considered a form of Agon or Alea as long as it provides social activity and triumph for the winner. Their publication in the context of [the surrealist journal] Minotaure makes it possible to see them as the search for figures that evidence the possibility of intelligence without thought, creativity without art, and agency in the absence of the human agent.

Elisabeth Abbott. New York, Orion Press, Man and the Sacred, trans. Meyer Barash. New York, Free Press of Glencoe, Man, Play and Games , trans. The Dream Adventure, ed.

Roger Caillois. The Mask of Medusa. New York, C. Potter, The Dream and Human Societies, ed. Roger Caillois and G. Von Grunebaum. Berkeley, University of California Press, Paris, Hermann, The Mystery Novel, trans. Roberto Yahni and A. New York, Laughing Buddha Press, The Writing of Stones, with an introduction by Marguerite Yourcenar. Charlottesville, University of Virginia Press, Claudine Frank, trans. Claudine Frank and Camille Naish. Durham, Duke University Press, Pontius Pilate: A Novel, trans.

Charles Lam Markmann, with an introduction by Ivan Strenski. Rethinking the political: the sacred, aesthetic politics, and the College de Sociologie.

An English translation of the poem: The River of Alpheus. The poem contains ethnic collection of imageries which can be decoded as the interconnection between humanity, mythology and the representation of Gods. Man, play, and games: University of Illinois Press. In general, play forms are subject to considerable social pressures, and particularly in post-industrial societies, leisure and media, though perhaps forms of play, do have economic significance.


Man, Play and Games

Caillois interprets many social structures as elaborate forms of games and much behaviour as a form of play. Caillois builds critically on the theories of Johan Huizinga , adding a more comprehensive review of play forms. He also notes the considerable difficulty in defining play, concluding that play is best described by six core characteristics: It is free, or not obligatory. It is separate from the routine of life , occupying its own time and space. It is unproductive in that it creates no wealth and ends as it begins. It is governed by rules that suspend ordinary laws and behaviours and that must be followed by players. Chess is an almost purely agonistic game.


Roger Caillois




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