“Dealing with a trained operative is like playing chess with a master. Dealing with criminals, on the other hand, is like playing checkers with a three-year-old: they like to change the rules.”

“Michael Westin”, Burn Notice


My approach is that everything is Game, which is not to belittle the seriousness of it all or the fact that most of everything is not fun or for fun. Game is not about fun or the lack of seriousness to my opinion. It is a way to look at the world. Even when a game is played as game it is not necessarily fun or for fun. Again, what is fun? What is game?

Games are a way to test situations and explore possibilities. Games are a good way to waste time and a very bad way to waste time. Games are a good way to practice skills and simulate real situations which are, in their turn, games in the great war game of life. Training and combat? Games. Riddle solving in CDC’s think tank about the origins of Swine Flu? Game. Completing jigsaw puzzle in Homicide? Game. And also when maintaining the order on the streets and when disturbing the order on the streets, a game. But why go so far into the extremes? I built my house three years ago and it was the longest running and most fulfilling quest I ever played. Sometimes we don’t know the rules or even worse: play by one set of rules when the opponent is playing by a totally different set. You may think the rule is to serve the required papers, but the rule of play for the city clerks may be to invent new form every time serve another. I can say that thinking of this process as a game saved me a lot of grief.

But it is not just for the advantages of psychological detachment or the possibility to better analyse motives and anticipate moves in real life dilemmas. Games matter because they help formulate existence into an intelligible system. Even without including Everything into Game and separating Game from Real game do exactly that. By simulating life activities, societies, establishments and processes in games, games shape our vision of reality into structures.

Huizinga dedicates a part of his book to occurrences of the words “play” and “game” in various languages and in various capacities which are not necessarily game activities as such. So many words came into language and jargon through metaphor, it seems to me that “play” is the immediate replacement for “do”, “try”, “fight”, “work” and many more. Sometimes, like in music, “play” is the only verb left to describe the action of the practitioners of that discipline. Was there another one? Does this word signify that music is less serious in comparison to, say, survival?

And there still remain the questions: Do all games matter or just simulation games? Are all games essentially simulations of some sort? how to even define game and does it even need definition?

Posted by Samuel Miller