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Homo Ludens / Man As Player (Historias / History)

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  845 ratings  ·  49 reviews
A Study of the Play-Element in Culture
Paperback, 286 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by Alianza (first published 1938)
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it took me a long time, but it's not an easy study and most of the references it made seemed to bounce off my head like some blank wall... i so need to study more of everything...


first and foremost, this can't be a review with a plot resume or a linear story line. it's an essay, a study, a scientific paper (a long one, for sure) and it brings along a baggage of information that you can hardly incorporate.

i have only been seriously reading scientific, non-fiction works for about
John Gustafson
I'd never heard of this book (written in 1938) until recently, when I started running across references to it in a lot of disparate places. It's fascinating, and I wonder if play-theory is going to make a comeback as a major school of literary and social criticism. "Play," after all, is one of the few values that has remained intact across both New Criticism and postmodernism (although I've always found that postmodernism plays lip service to play, favoring narrow identity politics). Huizinga's ...more
Emilio Garofalo
The seminal work in this field of study
1) ''Play is older than culture, for culture, however inadequately defined, always presupposes human society, and animals have not waited for man to teach them their playing.''

2) ''As a culture proceeds, either progressing or regressing, the original relationship we have postulated between play and non-play does not remain static. As a rule the play-element gradually recedes into the background, being absorbed for the most part in the sacred sphere. The remainder crystallizes as knowledge: folkl
Jonathan Cook
Aug 10, 2014 Jonathan Cook rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: game designers, marketers, anthropologists
In Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga makes the case that the ability and appetite for play is a defining characteristic of humanity. Huizinga describes play as an essential pillar of civilization, present in our art, our law, and even in our war. He writes about the idea of play playfully, looking for common themes in the many meanings embedded in the concept of play, rather than restricting himself to a single definition. The fluidity of play, as Huizinga sees it, allows it to course through theater, ...more
In Homo Ludens, Johan Huizinga makes a strong argument for “play” being a foundational element of culture. Denying the idea of “play” as only serving a biological purpose, the author posits that “play” is a phenomenon worth studying in and of itself and further claims it as the core ingredient in the development of civilization. The concept of “play” is timeless and undeniable, and Huizinga uses this to suggest that “play” should be seen as a definitional characteristic of human beings, thus dec ...more
As college students, how many of us ever made it through the entire "recommended reading" list for a class? And for a class with 17 recommended titles and "Homo Ludens" being the most difficult to acquire (the vast University of Minnesota library system doesn't have a copy), even the most thorough of us could be forgiven for leaving it by the wayside.

But four years after taking the Toy Product Design class that cited Homo Ludens, I find myself helping to teach it, and I figured I ought to have a
Nov 03, 2011 Joel rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joel by: Richard Sennett
In this foundational text Huizinga posits and illustrates the play aspect of culture from children's games, to athletic tournaments, to politics and society, to sacred worship and ritual. Drawing from a variety of cultures and time periods, the case is made that society and games can be viewed as a "chicken and egg" koan. All culture is suffused with play, and all play is of a kind with culture. As games are cultural artifacts fallen into "disuse," so is culture ludological artifacts coalesced t ...more
I am deeply interested in the concept of “play.” I think it is important as a practical matter for children and adults to engage in play; and I think it is key for understanding different aspects our lives. It also connects in obvious and important ways to one of my main research focuses: the philosophy of sport. Ever since getting interested in the philosophy of sport, I’ve wanted to read Johan Huizinga’s classic Homo Ludens: A study of the play element in culture.

It is a fascinating book; wide
Homo Ludens or "Man the Player", written in 1938 by Dutch historian, cultural theorist and professor Johan Huizinga, discusses the importance of the play element of culture and society. Huizinga uses the term "Play Theory" within the book to define the conceptual space in which play occurs.
One of the most significant (human and cultural) aspects of play is that it is fun. Huizinga suggests that play is primary to and a necessary (though not sufficient) condition of the generation of culture. In
il sottotitolo è ancora più inquietante del titolo e recita: "il gioco come funzione sociale". Libro serio serissimo, ma se per voi giocare sta nelle lista delle prime cinque cose che vorreste fare sempre nella vita non potete evitare questo classico. E scoprirete che tutti, ma proprio tutti qualche gioco lo fanno perchè non c'è vita senza gara, non c'è gara senza regole, non c'è cambiamento di regole senza nuovo gioco.
Journalist Tom Chatfield of Prospect has chosen to discuss Johan Huizinga's Homo Ludens , on FiveBooks as one of the top five on his subject - Computer Games, saying that:

It’s a book about the way that play precedes culture, and is a distinct and very complicated human phenomenon, which the author sees as giving rise to much that we think of as civilisation, as encoding a set of human values, ideas and ways of being in the world.”

The full interview is available here:
Contains some interesting ideas, but felt like a slog at times. I considered putting it down and moving on but I'm still glad I stuck it out. The two star rating is based entirely on the "it was OK" caption so don't let it dissuade you from picking this book up.
Jon Cassie
It isn't a great surprise to see Huizinga quoted in nearly every book I've ever read about game design and game development. This is the foundational work in understanding the concept and act of play. "Play lies outside the antithesis of wisdom and folly, and equally outside those of truth and falsehood, good and evil. Although it is a non-material activity it has no moral function. The valuations of vice and virtue do not apply here," Huizinga writes. And explicates what this means or might mea ...more
Juliana Luz
"Mas a sensação de estar "separadamente juntos", numa situação excepcional, de partilhar algo importante, afastando-se do resto do mundo e recusando as normas habituais, conserva sua magia para além da duração de cada jogo. "
Chris Hineman
An interesting, but very difficult to read. Very old school philosophy style writing.
I read this for my philosophy of sport and recreation course.
Muito Bom!!!

"... O que é a escrita?, pergunta Pepino, filho de Carlos Magno, e Alcuíno responde:
É a guardiã da Ciência.
O que é a Palavra? — A traição do pensamento.
Onde se originou a Palavra? — Na língua.
O que é Língua? — Um chicote no ar.
O que é Ar? — É o guardião da vida.
O que é Vida? — A alegria dos felizes, a dor dos infelizes, a espera da morte.
O que é Homem? — Escravo da morte, o hospede de um só lugar, um viajante que passa.”

Este tom não é para nós inteiramente desconhecido. Trata-s
This is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. Huizinga, who is very good at etymology, breaks down culture to its basic play forms. Vedic descriptions of the universe arise from answers to riddle-rituals. Poetry, too, has its basis in rigid play forms that allowed for repetition and variation of themes.

He argues that healthy civilization comes out of ritual play. He has a lot to say about civilization actually.

There's a ton to this book and I've taken more notes in it than in any oth
Jul 12, 2009 Christopherseelie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Christopherseelie by: Donald Revell
Well written and at times inspired scholarship on the difficult question of how civilization arises naturally out of playfulness and what relation play has to societies throughout history. The first chapter is easily the most important because everything after adds to the stance laid out therein. The subject matter ranges from poetry and philosophy to war and economics.
Another thinker might be careless in assuming that play is behind everything social, but Huizinga does not fall into this habit.
It's an interesting idea, one I like, but the book is very hard to read. The translator choose many obscure words who's meanings I wasn't entirely clear on. As well as the use of actual greek works with greek lettering amongst other languages. It because difficult to follow the specific arguments, leaving me with pretty much only the last chapter to make the entire argument.

I've read in other reviews that this was a poor translation, I hope so and I hope that the original book is actually as goo
Sep 17, 2015 Tess marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Against Culture: Constant Nieuwenhuys, situationism
The first chapter of this book is decent -- a slightly philosophical view of the importance of play. The rest is scholarly and now outdated ethnography. For a book that asserts that the best things in life revolve around play, you'd think it could be more... you know... playful. It does make a good alternative to postmodern nonsense that emphasizes a deadened "performance" without a play element.

It's not a useless book and might provide you some insight, but I'd rather read G.K. Chesterton who i
May 16, 2013 Rene rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: game designers, players, people interested in history
Recommended to Rene by:
Shelves: non-fiction
It was an interesting read, albeit difficult to follow at times. It gave me a different perspective on life during the early 20th century. Especially the last chapter about the element of play in modern times (as referenced to be from the late 19th century up until the 1930s) gave insights to the culture of the people between the wars.

Huizinga seems to have had a premonition of the war which was going to rage across Europe just a year later.
Karen Witzler
Background material since 1979. Must revisit soon.
The book itself is playful in a form follows thesis way. He just lists a lot of things that are kind of like playing and says, "Isn't this neat?" in an overly scholarly way.

Would have been much better if he really described the stories that he alludes to.

Also wonder if anyone has tried to do this thesis but with real research.

Still interesting in an intuitive way.
This first study of play & culture (1938) gives great basic understanding of what works in gamification and any environment that involves play.
John Carter McKnight
The foundational work in modern games studies, that nobody actually reads, but reads others' critiques of, and for good reason. An overly broad mishmash of cultural history built on a thin and not terribly rigorous conception of play. Really best gotten second-hand in others' work, it's remarkably tedious for a short book.
Маx Nestelieiev
it's a classic. what else?
Nick Lalone
Everyone should read this book at some point before the end of their undergraduate degree. The things it has to say about society, the way society was formed, and the wide variety of ways in which society declines / rises is of special importance to just about any type of degree a person could get.
Clarisa Rome
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Johan Huizinga was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history.
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“If a serious statement is defined as one that may be made in terms of waking life, poetry will never rise to the level of seriousness. It lies beyond seriousness, on that more primitive and original level where the child, the animal, the savage, and the seer belong, in the region of dream, enchantment, ecstasy, laughter. To understand poetry we must be capable of donning the child's soul like a magic cloak and of forsaking man's wisdom for the child's.” 10 likes
“All play means something.” 7 likes
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