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All playing is a being-played

All playing is a being-played
« on: April 15, 2012, 12:11:26 pm »

All playing is a being-played. The attraction of a game, the fascination it excerts, consists precisely in the fact that the game masters the players. Even in the case of games in which one tries to perform tasks that one has set oneself, there is a risk that they will not ”work”, ”succeed”, or ”succeed again”, which is the attraction of the game. Whoever ”tries” is in fact the one who is tried. The real subject of the game (this is shown in precisely those experiences in which there is only a single player) is not the player but instead the game itself. What holds the player in its spell, draws him into play, and keeps him there is the game itself.

I stumbled upon this passage in H-G. Gadamer’s ”Truth and Method” where he discusses quite extensively the concept of play (Spiel), in order to arrive at an understanding of art as play.  It is often enlightening to reverse perspective in this way: in a sense I think he is right. 

Of course, Gadamer knew nothing about computer games – he speaks about games and play in general. But what he says could include computer-games as well. The computer-game is a quite ridgid structure that must be accepted as it is, but you, the human player, is infinitely adaptable and flexible in your perception and mind. You accept to obey the game in order to to enter into it and make it ”come to life”.

”Every game has its own proper spirit”, Gadamer says, and ”Play fulfills its pupose only if the player loses himself in play”. 
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Re: All playing is a being-played
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2012, 01:29:56 pm »

This reminds me of a blog post I wrote in 2008:
 http://tale-of-tales.com/blog/2008/02/01/of-cogs-and-machines/

It compares conventional computer games to perfect machines with a single broken cog. The player is this cog. As opposed to the games that I want to make that are little cogs that find their place in the big machine that is the player.
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Re: All playing is a being-played
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2012, 09:37:53 pm »

Thanks for that reference, Michael! It is an admirably clarifying and inspiring piece of text.

In the spirit of Gadamer I even feel tempted to go one step further and think about (and hope for the possibility of) games-as-poetry

Which brings up another important aspect: a poetic game does not need to be long.  It would be pointless to run through it just once, from beginning to end. Rather, you will like to return and play it over an over again – and it will (in the ideal case) give you even more, the more you get aquainted with it.   Discerning new gestalts, discovering new layers. According to Gadamer, this is the only reasonable way to arrive at a true understanding of a work of art.
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Re: All playing is a being-played
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2012, 01:29:14 am »
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