According to Roger Caillois, the play is a voluntary, pleasurable and intrinsically rewarding practice which acts as a way of self-expression. The game is a crucial component in the process of establishing particular social orders in human beings. It is common for human plays to affirm or defy some of the social normativity. Caillois identified agon (competition), alea (chance), mimicry (simulation), and ilinx (vertigo) as four types of human plays which are influenced by Huizinga.
Agon is the type of play which is considered to be a set of games which seem to be competitive and are motivated by the aspect of winning and losing. Agon hinges on rivalry which is orchestrated by elements such as speed, endurance, skill and strength which can either be an advantage or disadvantage to an individual, implying that there are at least two factions who are opposing each other or contestants. This involves games such as football, polo, boxing, tennis (Caillois, 2001). In some games, the contestants divide the elements used to play the game into equal parts or value, with games of checkers and chess being the typical examples.
Alea is another play identified by Caillois which is based on chances. Such games are based on the independent decisions of the players to seek for an outcome which he does not have control. This indicates that the event of winning hinges on fate and not triumphing over an opponent. Lotteries, roulette, and baccara are examples of Alea (Caillois, 2001). Mimicry game which is facilitated by simulation is another type of play which allows people to escape from the real world and enter the imaginary universe. The player assumes an illusionary character thus depicting actions as well as submitting to a persons fate through an imaginary milieu. This involves improvisational role-playing. Ilinix is another form of Caillois four types of games where individuals gain pleasure by pursuing vertigo. This game consists of seeking disorientation or pleasurable torture. It focusses on alteration of the perception, for instance, hallucinogens and riding the roller coasters (Caillois, 2001).
Refer to Examples of the Four Types of Play in a Specific Period in History
Different plays were associated with various periods in history. Some of these periods include Ancient Greece, Roman Empire, Renaissance Europe, and Colonial American. The conventional type of the game during the Ancient Greece era (384-322 BC) was agon. Individuals were typically involved in the leisure activities such as learning, reading, debate, philosophy, math, music, and dance, sports Olympic (boxing, wrestling, weightlifting, horse racing and running). From these activities, it is depicted that individuals were motivated by an aspect of winning, competing or rivalry which is the building blocks of the agon (Caillois, 2001). In the Roman Empire (500 BC -500AD), people were involved in different recreational and leisure activities such as spectacles, mass, Theater, Ludi, Gladiator, combat, theater, mock battles (ships, cavalry) and use of live animals and humans killed. These activities depict the mimicry type of the play.
The Renaissance Europe era (1300-1600) saw individuals involved in games which depict the features of Ilinix games. Those games were likely to cause dizziness and distorted pleasure. Hallucinogens, dancing, and riding roller coasters are some of the typical games identified during this period which were associated with illinix (Caillois, 2001). The Colonial American (the 1600s) is another crucial period in the history which exhibited the Alea features of the game. During this age, individuals participated in the sports of chances, whose outcome was dependent on fate. Some of those activities include playing chess, gambling, fishing, and hunting.
How do these types of play reflect the values and norms, of the period you have selected?
The game is a crucial component in the process of establishing particular social orders in human beings. Through different games adopted in a different period of history, it is possible to reflect on the values and norms which existed in the society. For instance, during the Ancient Greece era (384-322 BC), agon was the dominant game. Agon hinges on rivalry which is orchestrated by elements such as speed, endurance, skill and strength which can either be an advantage or disadvantage to an individual, implying that there are at least two factions who are opposing each other or contestants (Iser, 1993). This means that violence and rivalry were highly prevalent social practices witnessed during ancient Greece (384-322 BC). In Ancient Greece, people were involved various sporting activities such as playing football, polo, boxing, and tennis. The winners were accorded respect whereas losers were vindicated (Iser, 1993). This is an indication that the society valued power and trickery.
The Colonial American (the 1600s) is another historical period which was dominated by alea type of game. The alea play is based on chances, which are determined by independent decisions of the players who seek for an outcome which he does not have control. This indicates that the event of winning hinges on fate and not triumphing over an opponent (Caillois, 2001). This is an indication that during this era, people valued optimism and believed in fate. This prompted them to be involved in activities such as gambling, playing chess, hunting, and fishing. In the economic sector, people valued to speculate on market outcomes such as stock. The mimicry play which was witnessed in Roman Empire (500 BC -500AD) was associated with unacceptable social values such as discrimination and alienation. On another hand, the Ilinix play was linked to practices such as alcoholism and abuse of drugs in the society.
How do Modern "Games" Reflect Dominant Cultural Values of Contemporary American Society?
Advancement in technology has paved the way for the inception of high-tech games which have significantly influenced contemporary American society. The availability of video consoles, computers, phones and other technological devices allow gamers to spend hours playing their favorite games. Various video games are used as indicators of levels of technological developments in the society (Hartley, 2009). Video games are foster language skills thus propagating the cultural knowledge and awareness of a given community. Gaming consoles combine concepts of artificial intelligence and video-gaming technologies. Such aspects have pushed game-developers to be innovative to keep up with the dynamic society.
These games might be entertaining, but their content and themes are considered to be adversely impacting the contemporary America community. Studies indicate that parents and relevant bodies are concerned that video games are promoting the culture of violence and lawlessness among the gamers, especially young people in the society (Montclair, 2017). Games are also associated with the promotion of detrimental vices such sexual perversion, anti-social characters, and alcoholism. This is an indication that modern games have a massive influence on the cultural values of the current American society.
Caillois, R. (2001). Man, Play and games. University Of Illinois Press.
Hartley, D. (2009). The Cultural Effects of Video Gaming. Certification , 1-3.
Iser, W. (1993). The Fictive and the Imaginary: Charting Literary Anthropology. JHU Press.
Montclair. (2017). Video Games and Their Effect on Modern Day Society. Huffingpost , 1-7.
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