What's In a Game?

Sunday, April 9, 2023
First Aired: 
Sunday, October 25, 2020

What Is It

Games have been an integral part of human society since the earliest civilizations. They are played around the world by people at every rank and station, at every stage of life, from childhood to old age. Why do we love games so much? Are they just a pleasant way of whiling away some empty hours or escaping the daily grind? Or do we play games to form social bonds and build important life skills? Are there some games we should never play? And what exactly makes something a “game” in the first place? Josh and Ray team up with Thi Nguyen from the University of Utah, author of Games: Agency as Art.



Josh Landy  
Are games just a waste of time?

Ray Briggs  
Can they equip us with important life skills?

Josh Landy  
Or do games make us more anti-social?

Comments (3)

Maurice's picture


Thursday, October 1, 2020 -- 11:01 AM

I love games--I enjoy playing

I love games--I enjoy playing them and watching them. However, games have become a powerful metaphor in our society that has helped to erode the complexity of our moral thinking. The moral conditions of life are too nuanced to allow game metaphors to dominate our social and political thinking. Please see the article, "Business is Not A Game" https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10551-008-9859-0 or the chapter, "Politics is Not A Game" https://works.bepress.com/maurice_hamington/43/

admin's picture


Sunday, October 25, 2020 -- 10:55 AM

Thanks for the comment and

Thanks for the comment and links, Maurice! I think you'll find guest Thi Nguyen very sympathetic to your position.

Harold G. Neuman's picture

Harold G. Neuman

Sunday, March 7, 2021 -- 6:37 AM

Yes, games have been a human

Yes, games have been a human passtime all over the world. They are universal. But as Maurice points out, games and game theory may be abused. By abusive people. And by abusive governments, corporations, even those entities whose aims are ecclesiastical in content. Neither is this all that recent. The best example of man's inhumanity to man came during the darker age of civilization. The Churchmen administered all sorts of torturers to those who defied their authority and chose free-thinking or some other blasphemous course. Reprogramming had early origins---and, it was not merely psychological. Anyone who free-thinks a bit may want to examine some accounts of these early efforts at corrective socialization. Titles coming to mind include: Strange Gods by Susan jacoby and, of course, The Better Angels of Our Nature, Pinker's tome on the notion of decreasing violence.

I used to play Bridge and Euchre. Over the years, I withdrew from participation. Some players got way too obsessive, bordering on violent: when it ceases to be a game, it is time to find other passtimes.
Now, I read and write philosophy. One is cautious, however. As one of PT's posts has noted, there are trolls and bullies out here. Even philosophy is fair game ( play-on-words, obviously intentional...).