Epilogue to professional play

Want to read more about “Play theory”?

I’ve talked a bit about the different aspects of play: The physical, the social, and the playful aspects. Though people have tried, none have so far reached a definite conclusion as to what play actually is. There’s plenty of different articles and books on play theory, and if you want to read more I recommend the following books to get a nice, basic overview of the academic field:
  • Johan Huizinga wrote Homo Ludens in 1938, discussing play as an element of culture and society. His theories have become cornerstones in many newer works on play.
  • Roger Caillois wrote Man, Play and Games in 1961, building on Huizinga’s work, but also criticizing parts of it.
  • Brian Sutton-Smith wrote The Ambiguity of Play in 1997, where he uses seven different ideologies to look at and justify play. Hos thoughts are a good framework for seeing play from different perspectives.
  • Katie Salen Tekinbaş and Eric Zimmerman wrote Rules of Play in 2003, which is one of the best books I’ve read on play. They look at modern forms of play and games, from board games and sports to computer and video games. If you are interested in play theory, I strongly encourage you to buy it.
Note that it’s not called Game theory. Game theory covers the craft of making mathematical models of conflict and cooperation between decision-makers, such as foreseeing strategic moves of different countries during warfare.


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