Game-playing, from Submission to Creation

I keep returning to this question: When we play a game, are we free –  or are we prisoners of the game rules?

Here is Playing, my contribution to Henry Lowood and Raiford Guins’ wonderful Debugging Game History collection.

In the piece I argue that there are four main conceptions of the act of game-playing, going from playing as submission to playing as creation.

1. Playing as submission, where the player is bound by the limits set forth by the game rules.

2. Playing as constrained freedom, where the game creates a space in which players acquire a certain amount of freedom and the opportunity to perform particular acts.

3. Playing as subversion, where the player works around both the designer’s intentions and the game object’s apparent limitations.

4. Playing as creation, where the game is ultimately irrelevant for (or at least secondary to) the actual playing.

Read the full text here:


2 thoughts on “Game-playing, from Submission to Creation”

  1. Really interesting article! I think I agree with your conclusion at the end – both people and games can be more or less flexible. Some people enjoy games with strict rules, while others see the game as a way to facilitate joking and hanging out with friends. The game can be primary or secondary to the player, depending on the situation. In some cases games deliberately allow players more room to explore, whereas other may provide very strict frameworks (which creative players will experiment with anyways).

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