Choose your quarantine character:
I have decided that the character that I am going to embody for this quarantine is an advocate of games.
You may notice that I did not use the word gamer to describe this role. The reason why I do not call myself a gamer is because to do so would suggest that the world is made up of gamers and non-gamers. I don’t believe that such a division exists. I believe we are all Homo ludens.
Homo Ludens is a book originally published in Dutch in 1938 by Dutch historian and cultural theorist Johan Huizinga. It discusses the importance of the play element of culture and society. Huizinga suggests that play is primary to and a necessary (though not sufficient) condition of the generation of culture. The Latin word ludens is the present active participle of the verb ludere, which itself is cognate with the noun ludus. Ludus has no direct equivalent in English, as it simultaneously refers to sport, play, school, and practice.Homo Ludens from Wikipedia, April 10, 2020
Let’s re-read that last line again: … Ludus has no direct equivalent in English, as it simultaneously refers to sport, play, and … school??
When I first read the above, the inclusion of school in that list threw me. But then it reminded me of something that I read some time ago from Marshall McLuhan’s work, The City As Classroom (1977):
The book begins with this:
I would like to bring your attention to this directive: “Look up the root meaning of the word ‘school’ (schola < Greek σχολή).
The root word of schola is… leisure.
I used to be adamant that one could not make a proper educational game to be played in a school or library setting because such games would be mandatory and I abided by the definition of games by Bernard Suits:
Playing a game is a voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstaclesLusory attitude from Wikipedia, April 10, 2020
As James P. Carse in Finite and Infinite Games puts it, “Whoever must play cannot play”.
I have done a lot of reading about games since I took this particular stance. And in that time, I have become much more open to the educational potential of not only games but toys, puzzles, and above all, play.
“We should keep in mind that the Greek word for education, “paideia” is rooted in the words for child and play: “pais” and “paidia“… Huh. How about that.
As I try to best embody the character of as advocate of games, I hope to share what I have learn as I work and play from home.
Just a heads up – there is a lot of Greek philosophy in this presentation.
But there is also this: