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Gambling cowboy undergrowth games

Postby Dishura В» 29.01.2020


TheDefinitionofPlay 3 II. TheCorruptionofGames 43 V. CompetitionandChance 99 IX. Huizinga, chose as the theme of an im- portant oration, "The Cultural Limits of Play and the Serious.

This work, although most of its premises are debatable, is nonetheless capable of opening extremely fruitful avenues to research and reflection. In any case, it is permanently to J. Huizinga's credit that he has masterfully analyzed several of the fundamental characteristics of play and has demonstrated the importance of its role in the very development of civilization. First, he sought an exact defini- tion of the essence of play; second, he tried to clarify the role of play present in or animating the essential aspects of all culture: in the arts as in philosophy, in poetry as well as in juridical insti- tutions and even in the etiquette of war.

Huizinga acquitted himself brilliantly in this task, but even if he discovers play in areas where no one before him had done so, 3 [4] MAN, PLAY AND GAMES he deliberately omits, as obvious, the description and classifica- tion of games themselves, since they all respond to the same needs and reflect, without qualification, the same psychological attitude.

His work is not a study of games, but an inquiry into the creative quality of the play principle in the domain of culture, and more precisely, of the spirit that rules certain kinds of games -those which are competitive. The examination of the criteria used by Huizinga to demarcate his universe of discourse is help- ful in understanding the strange gaps in a study which is in every other way remarkable.

Huizinga defines playas follows: Summing up the formal characteristics of play we might call it a free activity standing quite consciously outside "ordinary" life as being "not serious," but at the same time absorbing the player in- tensely and utterly. 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 group- ings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means. It is meritorious and fruitful to have grasped the affinity which exists between play and the secret or mysterious, but this relationship cannot be part of the definition of play, which is nearly always spectacular or ostentatious.

Without doubt, secrecy, mystery, and even travesty can be transformed into play activity, but it must be immediately pointed out that this is neces- sarily to the detriment of the secret and mysterious, which play exposes, publishes, and somehow expends. In a word, play tends to remove the very nature of the mysterious. On the other hand, when the secret, the mask, or the costume fulfills a sacramental function one can be sure that not play, but an institution is in- volved.

All that is mysterious or make-believe by nature ap- proaches play: moreover, it must be that the function of fiction or diversion is to remove the mystery; i. In the second place, the part of Huizinga's definition which views playas action denuded of all material interest, simply ex- cludes bets and games of chance-for example, gambling houses, casinos, racetracks, and lotteries-which, for better or worse, occupy an important part in the economy and daily life of various cultures.

It is true that the kinds of games are almost infinitely varied, but the constant relationship between chance and profit is very striking. Games of chance played for money have practically no place in Huizinga's work. Such an omission is not without consequence. It is certainly much more difficult to establish the cultural functions of games of chance than of competitive games. How- ever, the influence of games of chance is no less considerable, even if deemed unfortunate, and not to consider them leads to a definition of play which affirms or implies the absence of eco- nomic interest.

Therefore a distinction must be made. In certain of its manifestations, play is designed to be ex- tremely lucrative or ruinous. This does not preclude the fact that playing for money remains completely unproductive. The sum of the winnings at best would only equal the losses of the other players. Nearly always the winnings are less, because of large overhead, taxes, and the profits of the entrepreneur. He alone does not play, or if he plays he is protected against loss by the law of averages.

In effect, he is the only one who cannot take pleasure in gambling. Property is exchanged, but no goods are produced. What is more, this exchange affects only the players, and only to the degree that they accept, through a free decision remade at each game, the probability of such transfer. A characteristic of play, in fact, is that it creates no wealth or goods, thus differing from work or art. At the end of the game, all can and must start over again at the same point. Nothing has been harvested or manu- factured, no masterpiece has been created, no capital has ac- crued.

As for the professionals-the boxers, cyclists, jockeys, or actors who earn their living in the ring, track, or hippodrome or on the stage, and who must think in terms of prize, salary, or title-it is clear that they are not players but workers. When they play, it is at some other game. There is also no doubt that play must be defined as a free and voluntary activity, a source of joy and amusement.

A game which one would be forced to play would at once cease being play. It would become constraint, drudgery from which one would strive to be freed.

From this is derived Valery's proposed definition of play: it occurs when "['ennui peut delier ce que ['entrain avait lie. Finally and above all, it is necessary that they be free to leave whenever they please, by saying: "I am not playing any more. There is place for play: as needs dictate, the space for hopscotch, the board for checkers or chess, the stadium, the racetrack, the list, the ring, the stage, the arena, etc.

Nothing that takes place outside this ideai frontier is rele- vant. To leave the enclosure by mistake, accident, or necessity, to send the ball out of bounds, may disqualify or entail a penalty. The game must be taken back within the agreed boundaries. The same is true for time: the game starts and ends at a given signal. Its duration is often fixed in advance. It is improper to abandon or interrupt the game without a major reason in children's games, crying "I give up," for example.

In every case, the game's domain is therefore a restricted, closed, protected uni- verse: a pure space. The confused and intricate laws of ordinary life are replaced, in this fixed space and for this given time, by precise, arbitrary, unexceptionable rules that must be accepted as such and that govern the correct playing of the game. If the cheat violates the rules, he at least pretends to respect them. He does not discuss them: he takes advantage of the other players' loyalty to the rules.

From this point of view, one must agree with the writers who have stressed the fact that the cheat's dishonesty does not destroy the game. The game is ruined by the nihilist who de- nounces the rules as absurd and conventional, who refuses to play because the game is meaningless.

His arguments are irrefu- table. The game has no other but an intrinsic meaning. That is why its rules are imperative and absolute, beyond discussion. There is no reason for their being as they are, rather than other- wise. Whoever does not accept them as such must deem them manifest folly. One plays only if and when one wishes to. In this sense, play is free activity. It is also uncertain activity. Doubt must remain until the end, and hinges upon the denouement. In a card game, when the outcome is no longer in doubt, play stops and the players lay down their hands.

In a lottery or in roulette, money is placed on a number which mayor may not win. In a sports contest, the powers of the contestants must be equated, so that each may have a chance until the end. Every game of skill, by definition, involves the risk for the player of missing his stroke, and the threat of defeat, without which the game would no longer be pleasing. In fact, the game is no longer pleasing to one who, because he is too well trained or skillful, wins effortlessly and infallibly.

An outcome known in advance, with no possibility of error or surprise, clearly leading to an inescapable result, is incompatible with the nature of play. The game consists of the need to find or continue at once a response which is free within the limits set by the rules. This latitude of the player, this margin accorded to his action is essential to the game and partly explains the pleasure which it excites. It is equally accountable for the remarkable and mean- ingful uses of the term "play," such as are reflected in such ex- pressions as the playing of a performer or the play of a gear, to designate in the one case the personal style of an interpreter, in the other the range of movement of the parts of a machine.

Many games do not imply rules. No fixed or rigid rules exist for playing with dolls, for playing soldiers, cops and robbers, horses, locomotives, and airplanes-games, in general, which presuppose free improvisation, and the chief attraction of which lies in the pleasure of playing a role, of acting as if one were someone or something else, a machine for example.

Despite the assertion's paradoxical character, I will state that in this instance the fiction, the sentiment of as if replaces and performs the same function as do rules. Rules themselves create fictions. The one who plays chess, prisoner's base, polo, or baccara, by the very fact of complying with their respective rules, is separated from real life where there is no activity that literally corresponds to any of these games.

That is why chess, prisoner' s base, polo, and baccara are played for real. As if is not necessary. On the contrary, each time that play consists in imitating life, the player on the one hand lacks knowledge of how to invent and follow rules that do not exist in reality, and on the other hand the game is accompanied by the knowledge that the required behavior is pretense, or simple mimicry.

This awareness of the basic un- reality of the assumed behavior is separate from real life and from the arbitrary legislation that defines other games. Thus games are not ruled and make-believe. Rather, they are ruled or make-believe. It is to the point that if a game with rules seems in certain circumstances like a serious activity and is be- yond one unfamiliar with the rules, i.

One easily can conceive of children, in order to imitate adults, blindly manipUlating real or imaginary pieces on an imaginary chessboard, and by pleasant example, playing at "playing chess.

In particular, these remarks tend to add two new domains to this universe: that of wagers and games of chance, and that of mimicry and interpretation. Yet there remain a number of games and entertainments that still have imperfectly defined characteristics-for example, kite-flying and top-spin- ning, puzzles such as crossword puzzles, the game of patience, horsemanship, seesaws, and certain carnival attractions.

It will be necessary to return to this problem. But for the present, the preceding analysis permits play to be defined as an activity which is essentially: 1. Free: in which playing is not obligatory; if it were, it would at once lose its attractive and joyous quality as diversion; 2. Separate: circumscribed within limits of space and time, defined and fixed in advance; 3. Unproductive: creating neither goods, nor wealth, nor new elements of any kind; and, except for the exchange of property among the players, ending in a situation identical to that prevail- ing at the beginning of the game; 5.

Governed by rules: under conventions that suspend ordi- nary laws, and for the moment establish new legislation, which alone counts; 6. Make-believe: accompanied by a special awareness of a second reality or of a free unreality, as against real life. These diverse qualities are purely formal.

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