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  • example question/comment here... (short question and comment)

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  • "Human competitiveness and playfulness are an instinctual mater of survival and propagation." (p23)
  • "Somehow, instinctual acts became ritualized social institutions that provided social interaction and catharsis," (p24)
  • "By a process of ritualization, the once productive hunting actions continued, became more stylized, and took on new communicative functions as sport. The athlete who best expended or sacrificed energy got the greatest honor." (p24)
  • "Whether we choose to call it play, display, sport, agonism, territorialism or whatever, early humans shared physicality, aggression, and instinctual drives to contest and compete to survive. Early societies had to channel and ritualize those innate impulses into constructive or therapeutic games and performances. ..To a great extent the allure of playing and watching games remained visceral and elemental - more subliminal than cerebral." (p340)

With those ideas in mind of how sport grows from visceral urges to compete and act aggressively, it makes me wonder what sort of changes are taking place in the chemistry and subconscious of those who shift to less physically-active, more cerebral games and contests as a means of play. What sort of advantages/disadvantages come from focusing less on the physical contest and more on the intellectual strategy and its implementation? In video games, a player remembers key bindings, toggles, in-game environmental elements, and the building of their character's stats to defeat opponents and claim this honor. Can that be enough to satiate this supposed innate desire to be competitive? Or is it repressing that instinctual urge and doing more damage than good? On the flip side, could it also be awakening that aggressiveness inside the player, who may live in a society that has grown intolerant of aggression?


  • "In pankration contests only eye gouging and biting were disallowed, and although the fights were not expressly to the death (perhaps the only aspect qualifying this as play and not combat) fighters would often opt to die rather than tap to submission holds or bodily incapacitation. This form of sport seems to mark an extreme limit of play."
  • "More sport theatre than sport, match outcomes are scripted in order to develop wrestler personas and storylines and create mythic drama for the action. This is an instance of one of the oldest sport in which agon (competition) is subordinated to mimicry (simulation), and also reconnects these interrelated play forms to ritual and mythmaking."

How many rules can be applied before playing is no longer play? If an activity has 100 rules but someone finds it cathartic does that makes it play? Could work and other activities be considered play for certain people? If so, is there any activity that exists that isn't play to someone?


  • "This king's long distance running was a marking of his territory, a claim to his throne and realm" (p 28).
  • "In the earliest communities, a good hunter was a good leader, a protector and provider" (p 34).
  • "Performances became more structured with states and more spectacular with empires. Physical performances (hunting, dance, runs, processions, combats, mock warfare) were elements of rites of passage, mating displays, festivals, and rituals of community -- fields of play on which status was defined and social orders were (re)constituted. Sport of various types allowed communities to incorporate physicality and aggression therapeutically. (p 37)"
  • First two quotes: So, in other words: we are still just primates who flex our literal and metaphorical muscle to attract mates and assert dominance, no matter how much we try to convince ourselves otherwise.
  • Last quote: What does that say about the American South's ceaseless reenactments of the Civil War? Is the reenactment a ritual in its own right? What are the reenactments doing to society, and to the South mentally? Are they reinforcing (frankly treasonous) social norms by continuing to portray the North as "other," as oppressors?


  • "Both Greek and Roman games included elements of compulsion, competitiveness, social mobility, aggression, danger, eroticism, virility, and virtue." (Pg 24(ish))

What a good chunk of what this text was talking about was living vicariously through competitors. We've all seen and experienced it in our lives too, we've yelled at or seen someone yell at a screen exclaiming how something should've been done (who they should've passed too, how bad they are at the sport etc.) Sports tend to always manifest one or all of the elements listed above which are generally frowned upon, you can't be aggressive about buying your groceries but you can about scoring a goal, it's encouraged. Is this beneficial or negative to how humans interact? Does it mean that by doing something that indulges those tendencies, like watching a football game, you let out frustration, give in to compulsions, and get aggressive and in turn will not give in to them in your daily life? Or does it reinforce the idea that those are normal and in turn normalizes such behavior?