Homo Ludens: Some thoughts about man and the play element

Life is improvisation and risk. What counts is the art of making the best of everything. You can train the skills to do this. The joy of play is an essential facet here. Some thoughts about man and the play element. By Michael Köckritz.
Text Michael Köckritz
Photo Matthias Mederer · ramp.pictures

We love to play. To playfully try things out that make us curious. To play with things that are interesting to us. Whether these things want to be played with or not. Because the challenge is part of the game.

Just like in real life. Though we should clarify one thing, as a cognitive aid to help those holding intellectually insecure or stubborn views to better understand the matter at hand: If you take an easy-going perspective, then a playful attitude and serious demeanor never have to exclude each other. On the contrary.

»In life, you have to improvise and take risks.«

Michael Köckritz

In life, you have to improvise and take risks. Make the best of everything. And the good news is that the necessary skills can be learned. The joy of play is a key ingredient to doing so – seeing life as an exciting puzzle that can be solved by thinking and being creative, seeing life as a delightful game.

Wikipedia defines “play” as a range of activities done for recreational pleasure and enjoyment. Often seen as frivolous, play can be intently focused on an objective, particularly when it is structured and goal-oriented, as in a game. This is what we call “flow”. Even before Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the psychologist noted for his work in the study of happiness and creativity, came up with this term, the concept had already been widely discussed within the field of game studies.

In the 1950s, for example, game theorist Hans Scheuerl formulated his famous criteria for the essence of play, emphasizing, among other things, the player’s detachment from the things going on around him, his complete absorption in the activity at hand, dwelling in a timeless, happy state in which one would like to remain forever and come back to time and again.

Adopting this attitude, we can master almost anything that comes our way.

Read more: ramp #58 »Hot Wheels«.

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