Week 3 Caillois reading response

Caillois’ work Man Play and Games was refreshing after reading Huizinga’s work since this is probably the first discourse in the community of the study of games and play. Since I disagreed so much with Huizinga’s thoughts I thought I, and I really wanted to, would like Caillois’ book but every time he made a point I hated how he described his points and the direction that he took them. For example, he started classifying games, which is great since there is finally a classification system that could only enhance the discussion of games. Then Caillois made it too complicated with the Latin descriptions, all because it is an old language doesn’t mean it is useful in describing every kind of educated study, which I’ll admit is a little bit nitpicky of me to point out. Another complaint about Caillois’ classification system is that he sets it up into four somewhat vague categories yet at the same time too specific since so many games fall under multiple categories. For example Poker is in a way Alea since it is dependent on shuffled cards lining up in you favor yet it also falls under the category of Agon since it is so competitive. Caillois even mentions how some games fall under two or more categories but doesn’t realize that then there isn’t really any point in making categories to classify games. I think the solution is to classify them differently, first off get rid of the Latin since people can just translate it into different languages. I don’t know how to specifically classify games, maybe we can talk about the best way in class, but saying that poker is Alea and Agon doesn’t really help the discussion.

Another chapter that stuck out to me was the fourth chapter about the corruption of games, specifically where he mentions that games are an activity that are free (if only he was around today) among other things, he also mentions that they are unproductive. Someone who is writing a book on games and play shouldn’t have closed the definition of games in such a way. Games by no means have to be unproductive, when I am at work I do my best to turn what I am doing into a game to make the work more enjoyable and it reflects poorly on Caillois to make an assumption about games like that.

I know I have spent a lot of time disagreeing with Caillois but there were some points of his that I at least enjoyed, including the numerous times he talks about cheaters. Although much of what he mentions about cheaters goes against what he previously said about games in the book. In the end Caillois’ work still helped my understanding of games and play but the book seemed more like Huizinga’s work in the sense that it was an introductory book into the discussion of games and play and didn’t delve too deep into any one type of game or play.

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