About Games

In the book The Study of Games Avedon and Sutton-Smith (NY: John Wiley & Sons, 1971; Reprinted NY: R.E. Krieger Publishing Company, 1979) wrote that to start an examination of "games", one should offer a definition. However, they instead indicate that a definition of the word "game" is elusive, since it is used in a variety of contexts, i.e. - "...by children and adults with recreative intent, by military strategists and businessmen to apply to logistic and industrial applications, by health personnel to rehabilitation devices, by anthropologists to cultural forms, by psychiatrists to diagnostic procedures, by behavioral scientists to research tools, by educators to curriculum materials, by recreation personnel to program content" - and they probably could have added even more examples to this list!

To pursue the matter of a definition in more detail, the book offers content concerning the linguistics origins of the word "game" in a range of Indo-European languages. These linguistic origins lead to some philosophical suggestions as to why the word "game" has been used as it is in many civilizations.

Thus, to read about games and civilization, CLICK on the left menu item Ethnology and Games. To read about how specific games may have been "invented" in the past, CLICK on the left menu item Theories of Origins.

To read about the geographic distribution of certain games in different parts of the world and how certain games may have spread from culture to culture, CLICK on the left menu item Game Diffusion.

There are hundreds of pages in this Website that illustrate and explain the components of thousands of games, and instructions for playing these games can also be found on many of these pages. Webpages about games are organized as "Exhibits", such as "Chess Sets", "Gambling Games", "Row Games", etc. These groupings are arbitrary, based primarily of popular notions and the physical structure of the games. To view these pages CLICK on the left menu item The Virtual Collection.

Nevertheless, game collectors, librarians, game manufactures, and others are interested in formal classification terminology. There is no universal agreement about classification terminology. To read about this issue CLICK on the left menu item Classification of Games.

While instructions on how to play a game indicates how a game functions among players while the game is being played - how a game functions in one the contexts which Avedon and Sutton-Smith discuss in their book, is quite a different matter. These over arching functions have to be viewed from the perspective of the sponsoring groups, such as a family, a community center, a nursing home, a school, a military organization, and the like. However, regardless of how the intended function of a game may vary among sponsoring groups, the inherent social-psychological structure of a game does not seem to vary. To read about this aspect of games, CLICK on the left menu item Structure of Games.

Last update March 16, 2010