Caillois Reading Response

This weeks reading on Caillois was a bit mind numbing I must admit. The book/research was interesting itself but I could not understand Caillois’ obsession with categories. Everything he wrote about games was fit into a category, then a sub category, and after that categories were mixed and matched, or debunked as being able to mix, together in many ways. It was slightly overwhelming to me as I never thought about games within so many categories at their base level. When I think of games and categories I think of genres such as; Role-playing, board games, dating simulators, card games, etcetera. It may seem immature to not understand why there are so many categories within the base level of a game but I am not one for strict organization so it took a bit for me to wrap my mind around all the organization that Caillois had laid out.

My next point of interest was his explanations, for Caillois had quite a few. His examples were helpful but sometimes long, winding, and exhausting to read as it felt like he was reiterating much of what he said before. I felt that maybe his explanations and examples could have been shortened in some areas; but overall I did enjoy the fact that he had those examples and explanations as long as he did for some of the categories he wrote about. I would assume that this type of notation about the reading would just be a personal preference though.

One of my favorite parts to read within the text was about games of chance and how they related to divination and other forms of fortune telling and lucky charms/omens that players believe in. It reminded me of back in high school and how I would only take my English tests with a certain pencil because I believed that it was my lucky pencil. I especially loved how he even added the superstition and the budget breaking part about the seers people see through daily figures. It was astonishing as I did not realize that $200 million was being spent annually on just astrology based readings. It blew my mind completely. The game of chance felt intertwined with life more so than any other game Caillois categorized and it was just fascinating to read on how it did effect people’s daily lives.
The research as a whole is fascinating and it will be interesting to see how I view games after the discussion we will have.

My only questions are small and may seem obvious to some but I am truely curious about these questions. Why does Caillois dislike Huizinga so much? Is it because of Huizinga’s definition of play explicitly or was it something else that made Caillois dislike Huizinga? Why did he write the research he did the way he did? What are the psychological affects of chance and vertigo in daily life and what examples are their of them outside the ‘magic circle’?

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