Switching from cultural history to philosophy

Definition of games

The omnipresence of games in culture is obvious. However, what is the definition of game? Switching from cultural history to philosophy, various philosophers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein or Thomas Hurka were looking closely at the definition of a game, but the description of a game’s characteristics by French sociologist Roger Caillois is the one that stands out. In his bookthe author points out several main attributes of a game such as fun (the raison d’être of that activity), uncertainty (nobody knows the final outcome which provides an extra spark of adrenaline), unproductiveness (participation often does not result in anything useful apart from a good feeling from participating and being part of something bigger), accountability (a game provides a set of rules that holds every player accountable) and fiction (it provides an escape from everyday reality or routine).

Having a university background in cultural management, a fairly big part of the study was dedicated to cultural history and the work of Dutch cultural historian Johan Huizinga. It was Huizinga that stated in his publication from 1938, Homo Ludens, that “games were a primary condition of the generation of human cultures because the playing of games 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”. The importance of games can be witnessed in many different spheres of our lives, irrespective of whether we are children, students or top managers, and according to Huizinga’s theory, games were at the origin of many human activities like for example philosophy, language or war.

Many, if not all these general characteristics of a game could also be applied to fantasy sports games. In the pilot research conducted via an online questionnaire that was shared on different fantasy sports games blogs in Europe and North America, most replies to the question “Why do you play fantasy sports?” were related to the aspect of “having fun” and “beating your friends”.

The Fantasy Sports Games phenomenon

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