When Is a Game No Longer a Game?
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When Is a Game No Longer a Game? • Posted: Oct 13, 2018 19:04:58Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

To most minds, the answer is simple: A game is no longer a game when it ceases to be fun.

That answer, of course, brings to mind the question: What is fun? And, the related question: What is the value of fun? One might also ask: Is a game still a game, when only one side is having fun?

Wikipedia suggests our current word “fun” may have derived from the more ancient word “fonne”, meaning a fool, or “fonnen”, meaning to fool someone, as in to hoax someone or make fun of them. Today, one might still play the fool or intentionally make fun of another, but the term has more generally evolved to refer to “having fun”, as in enjoying a time of pleasure, free of care and concern. Feelings we acknowledge as fun probably most often occur when we engage in play, something many animals do as well. But, psychologists also note that feelings of fun can be had during times of intense concentration such as during engagement within a game. The psychological value of having fun, then, is temporary relief from the stress of cares and concerns plaguing us at the time. Undoubtably, that temporary relief is beneficial to mental wellbeing and physical health.

But, what happens when the fun goes out of a game, when one or the other side find continuing a game to be torturous or boring, hurtful, undermining, or even dangerous?

Let’s take a step back and ask: What is the purpose of a game?

One might generally say that the purpose a game is to have fun. Or, in the more abstract sense, to ease tensions. But, games have also served our various societies as an alternative to murderous aggression. One might even say that democracy is a game invented by thoughtful people seeking to end dysfunctional murder and war, a game that could, instead, offer pleasure, increased personal satisfaction, and societal cohesion founded upon increased charitable respect for one another.

As one reads the news these days, and listens to political speeches, it isn’t hard to conclude that very few of us are having fun playing the game of democracy anymore, as it has now evolved. It does appear that the likelihood of murderous aggression and war is increasing, not decreasing. And, social cohesion and charitable mutual respect seems also to be rapidly evaporating.

It would seem to me that if there are any thoughtful people left out there interested in still playing the game of democracy, they ought to try remembering what its original purpose has been. Because, as already stated, very few of us are having any fun engaging with it, anymore. And, many of these same citizens may also have begun to think the same of capitalism.

Do we really want our more base jealous, slanderous, murderous instincts to rule our various societies, once again?

Saturday, September 1st, 2018
Los Angeles/Venice Beach