2/1 – Colin (First Reader)

In the second reading from Caillois he attempts to define what a game is in the context of his earlier chapter on fun.  He defines games in four main categories: Agon (Competition-pg-14), Alea (Chance-pg-17), Mimicry (Simulation-pg-19), and Ilinx (Vertigo-pg-23).

It seems to me that the primary difference between each of these categories is the the way in which players receive pleasure from each game.

In Agon the players receive pleasure from the game by “having his superiority recognized”, or by having his victory be due to his exertion, thus his victory has value.

In Alea players receive pleasure by experiencing the “favor of destiny”.

In Mimicry the pleasure received from the game is in the acting out of some imaginary universe, or in the adoration of the audience to the role being played.

In Ilinx the pleasure is found in the loss of “stability of perception” or in the games attempt to “…inflict a kind of voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind.”

Do you agree with these categories?  Could you add another?

I find these categories helpful but limiting.  Many games are some combination of one or more of these classifications.  In Monopoly the enjoyment is found in both the chance rolling of the die (Alea) and the ability of the player to negotiate and trade (Agon).  Charades is a game of both Mimicry and Agon.

Do you find most games to be a combination of these categories?  Do you agree that the source of pleasure is the main difference between categories?  Would you add other sources of enjoyment or pleasure according the Caillois first chapter?

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3 Responses to 2/1 – Colin (First Reader)

  1. I’d agree that most games are not strictly one category of play or another. Chance and competition mix and mingle in various ways, and oftentimes, even games that rely almost exclusively on skill include some element of chance (say, the coin toss at the beginning of a football game). I wonder, what other ways might chance appear in games that are mostly competition-based?

  2. Joyce says:

    Having experienced each category in one way or another throughout my life, I do agree that the four types of game play are valid assumptions. The four definitions mentioned in this post are true, but more information about the interaction among the groups is needed to explicitly define what game play is.

    You mentioned that the four groups may be limited. In response to that, I would like to add two more groups—paidea and ludus— mentioned both in Caillois’ reading and in class. Caillois defines Paidea as “spontaneous manifestations of the play instinct” (28) and Ludus as a “complementary to and a refinement of paidea, which it disciplines and enriches” (29). I like to think of those two terms as subcategories because they divide each of the four broad categories into either “play” or “game.” Paidea and ludus gave me a further understanding that a competitive game, such as beating a personal high score, does not require a written set of rules, and a game of chance, such as Blackjack, can still have rules.

    I agree that in many games, there is a definite overlap of the four categories. Such overlaps conclude that game play is not limited to only one of the groups mentioned.

    I would also disagree that the main difference among the categories is the source of pleasure. I think it is the only common idea among the groups. I believe that as long as a player CHOOSES to temporarily enter the world of play, he or she will receive the same, desired pleasure no matter what kind of game is being played.

  3. rcummins says:

    I would have to agree with Colin in the original post that many games do not fit exclusively into the four types or as we did in class, the eight game types (when they are put into both paidea and ludus). We found it very difficult to put games into one exclusive category. Also to comment on what Professor Sample said about football having the element of chance in the coin toss, another one is injury. I also disagree with Colin when he says that pleasure is limited in each category but actually think it comes from whatever the player wants to derive from it.

    One thing I came to find when trying to place different games into the categories of paidea and ludus was that as we grow older we appreciate pure play less than we do games. It was tough for me to think of things that could fall under paidea but not hard at all for ludus. It may have something to do with not being satisfied by pure play anymore or it may have something to do with how simple pure play is but nevertheless it does not do it for me anymore. I need the structure and complexity of a rule based game and I do not know whether that is sad or if that is at all common but that is the truth, at least regarding me. A game of running to a certain point before someone else just does not do it like a game of basketball or of Call of Duty.

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