When we were discussing Huzinga and Caillois in class yesterday, much of what we were talking about reminded me of this episode of The Big Bang Theory. If you are unfamiliar with the show, the gist is that these four men (Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, and Raj) are gigantic science nerds–and really, nerds in general. You’ll be able to glean that from this clip.
Huzinga stated that play is a “free activity standing quite consciously outside ‘ordinary’ life as being ‘not serious’ but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly. It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it.”
The play occurring in this clip defies that definition almost completely. Leonard notes that they have been playing the game for 97 hours; it has been their lives for the past several days, and it is evident that they have taken it rather seriously.
The other major point it defies is the idea that play has no material interest or profit involved. When Sheldon abandons the others and grabs the Sword of Azeroth for himself, he proceeds to sell it on eBay–and moments later, Howard purchases it.
Finally, this clip also hints at Caillois’ four divisions of play. The game becomes competitive when Sheldon starts to play for his own personal interest. It is also mimicry–they are completely absorbed in a make-believe world. Their discussions are based on the characters they are representing in the game. Once Sheldon gets the Sword of Azeroth, he states, “There is no more Sheldon. I am the sword master!”
I’m sure there is even more to find in this clip, but those were my initial thoughts regarding yesterday’s discussion. Enjoy! 🙂