7-1 | The Well-Played Game: A Player’s Philosophy

Book Review

The Well-Played Game: A Player’s Philosophy

Bernard De Koven
Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013. Foreword, new preface, original preface, descriptions, appendix. 148 pp. $24.95 cloth. ISBN: 9780262019170

by Mark Chen

First Paragraph:

For a while now, my search for the perfect reading to introduce new students to games involved defining games as objects, as constructed things. Games are created activities bound by rules that allow only particular actions by their players, who are all trying to get somewhere, to win or to score big, or otherwise to succeed. There are ways to define games, however, that do not focus on constraints and goals. Instead, they focus on the activity of play, the interaction between players and games and gaming communities, and all the stuff around games, not the stuff of games. Yet for some reason, I never let go of my tendency to categorize and label and objectify when first introducing games. And in failing to let go of these formal definitions, I may have been introducing games to my students as decontextualized objects that stand apart as inert things, waiting to be explored and prodded. But no. That is not what games are. They do not exist except in the enactment.