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The mid-20th century work of Johan Huizinga and Roger Caillois takes a cultural/anthropological view of game studies. They declare broad, sweeping theses about games as cultural products and see play as the “civilizing element of culture.” Caillois suggests that all forms of play are voluntary, uncertain in outcome, in their own time and space separate from “life outside” of play, and governed by some kind of logic that distinguishes it from non-play. Unstructured play tends to grow into more structured games as the activity takes shape and rules are litigated into clarity by the play community.

Caillois and these other anthropological philosophers of play were cataloguing and dissecting games before the advent of videogames, which is reflected in their point of view:

How dominant are videogames in the discussion of games? We could illustrate this dominance in the logic of the First Person Shooter (FPS). Many of you readers are probably highly “FPS-literate”: you could pick up an unknown title in an unknown language (and perhaps even with an unfamiliar controller) and would instantly understand a slew of complex conventions, and get right to “work” – you can probably infer the goals, game mechanics, and feedback shorthands in very little time. Even an “innovative” FPS title today generally requires very little new acquaintance.

It’s likely that much of the development of the First Person Shooter as a “thing” is a forced hand in the design space of possible videogames, since we’ve probably been roleplaying warfare since before language, and gunplay is a widely-understood form of romanticized violence. Media Studies Professor (and COOLCEPT Women Boots Zipper Black 5GLeOI
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has often made the case that plenty about the design of the FPS is also based on path-dependent events during development of specific conventions. Computational limitations have forced entrepreneurial developers to whip up neat tricks that become canonized by player recognition (e.g. “crates in conspicuous places should probably be investigated”). New games are seeded with quirks and conventions from whatever Game Engine was licensed to save coding effort and time. We can often feel the similarity in games that share an engine, even if we don’t know which game engine is which. The Quake II Engine produced a single-player narrative-driven experience in Half-Life , and a multiplayer experience in Counter-Strike .


Rules are inseparable from play as soon as the latter becomes institutionalized.

[Imagine] a continuum between two poles. At one extreme an almost indivisible principle, common to diversion, turbulence, free improvisation, and carefree gaiety is dominant. It manifests a kind of uncontrolled fantasy that can be designated by the term paidia . At the opposite extreme, this frolicsome and impulsive exuberance is almost entirely absorbed or disciplined by a complementary, and in some respects inverse, tendency to its anarchic and capricious nature: there is a growing tendency to bind it with arbitrary, imperative, and purposefully tedious conventions, to oppose it still more by ceaselessly practicing the most embarrassing chicanery upon it, in order to make it more uncertain of attaining its desired effect. This latter principle is completely impractical, even though it requires an ever greater amount of effort, patience, skill, or ingenuity. I call this second component ludus .

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Probably not:
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