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The well-played game: A player's philosophy Paperback


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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 183 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor Press; 1st Anchor books ed edition (1978)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385132689
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385132688
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,728,818 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

This is one of the most brilliant and overlooked books on games to date. For anyone interested in playing, studying, designing, or writing about games, this should be a perennial and oft-referenced bookshelf companion.

(Celia Pearce, author of Communities of Play)

The Well-Played Game focuses on a kind of fun that is unfortunately not normally associated with games, and certainly not with sports. I like to think of it as 'kindly fun' -- like the fun that families share when they are enjoying each other, or the fun that children share with each other when they are feeling safe and free from supervision. The book is remarkable, because it demonstrates that kindly fun is not only something that people experience, but something that can be nurtured and extended throughout an entire community.

(Brian Sutton-Smith, author of The Ambiguity of Play)

In a world filled with technologies and devices devoted to diversion, we need this very human reminder of what really matters in games: how we are able to challenge, support, and discover each other through play, and to create communities of fun that can last a single round or many generations.

(Tracy Fullerton, author of Game Design Workshop: A Playcentric Approach to Creating Innovative Games, 2nd Edition)

Play is fascinating, especially when shown to us through the delicate and generous gaze of this seasoned player. To De Koven, play is an act of imagination, generosity, delight, danger, and to risk sounding cheesy, love. From the most generous spirit the game industry has ever witnessed, read this moving meditation on being a genuine human being.

(Mary Flanagan, author of Critical Play)

...this book is a must-read for game designers and game players who may wish to tweak the games they play to make playing more rewarding. I would go even further. Because it is so delightful to read, I recommend it to anyone who likes a thought-provoking, intellectual journal. The writing style is deceptively simple. As you read, you wonder to yourself, "Can it really be this easy?" But don't kid yourself; this is a book that can be read again and again for new insights each time.

(Computing Reviews) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Bernard De Koven is a game designer and theorist of fun. He was a codirector of the New Games Foundation and a founder of the Games Preserve. He is the author of Junkyard Sports and the creator of the website deepfun.com. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Bernard De Koven is the author of The Well-Played Game, originally published by Doubleday-Dolphin in 1978, it served as the philosophical underpinnings of The New Games Foundation. Reprinted in 2013 by MIT Press, The Well-Played Game has become a seminal resource for videogame designers as well as youth leaders and physical educators. His full bio is on his website at http://www.deepfun.com/bernie/.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend it for ANYONE in game design.
Jacquelyn Piette
The style is entertaining and playful – making the journey wonderfully consistent with the subject of a well-played game.
GREENAWAY
That does not mean that their actions are random or mechanical or that optimal performance will continue indefinitely.
Robert Morris

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
As I read and then re-read this new edition of The Well-Played Game, a book first published in 1978, I was again reminded of another book, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience (1990), in which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi discusses a state (i.e. "flow") during which creative artists, for example, are not consciously thinking about the next note to play or the next stroke to make on a painting. Athletes call it being in a "zone" as when Michael Jordan feels that he will make every a basketball shot or when Tiger Woods feels that he will sink every golf putt. That does not mean that their actions are random or mechanical or that optimal performance will continue indefinitely. Those in a "flow" feel as if guided by a set of internalized rules or strategies. These rules influence the result but those involved do not need to consciously "will" each intention in action. Results occur naturally if allowed to.

Bernie De Koven would describe it as "a well-played game." In fact, he describes the state of mind/heart/spirit as an experience that transcends games, just as the games you will read about in his book "transcend the historical, geographic, social, and physical circumstances that divide us. It is not about any particular game, but about the spirit of play itself. Nor is it about any particular player, but about the relationship between players in pursuit of fun." He believes -- and I agree -- that children's games are truly theater, and that, like all good theater, they capture the human condition, they reveal the essence of optimal humanity.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jacquelyn Piette on February 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book may have been written a long time ago but much of its principles still hold true today. His narrative is quite different from what you would normally expect (first person POV) but it makes for a fascinating read. I highly recommend it for ANYONE in game design.
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Format: Hardcover
If the title sounds familiar, it might be because 'The Well-Played Game' was first published in 1978 and was followed by a revised edition in 2002. Its re-publication in 2013 gives these playful insights a new lease of life. The 2013 edition also includes a new foreword by Eric Zimmerman and a new preface by the author, Bernie de Koven.

'The Well-Played Game' is difficult to classify because it is so original and unconventional. For example, it ends with a 'Nonconclusion' comprising four 'Inklings'. The three main reasons that I enjoyed re-reading this unique treatise are:

1. It is a detailed forensic analysis of how games (of all kinds) work – providing clear insights into the social 'DNA' of a well-played game.

2. The style is entertaining and playful – making the journey wonderfully consistent with the subject of a well-played game.

3. There is an unrelenting focus on the experience of a well-played game.

As with all good books, it can be enjoyed at many levels – as a player of games, as a play leader, as a game designer, or as a designer/facilitator of any activities (educational or recreational). By the end of the book I could even accept the author's "Inkling # 3" that "If we can create even larger games that we can all play together – all of us – then there will be no separation between us and others, no we and they. We will all be one community. All one species."

The well-played game is a process. Details of the process include intriguing concepts like 'The Well-Timed Cheat', 'The Fair Witness', 'The Practice Game', 'The Bent Rule', 'Restoring Balance', 'Quitting' and 'Quitting Practice'.
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By Robert Lowe on February 19, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bernie De Koven is a delightful human who has played with playing for most of his life. Well worth the read.
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By Stevanne Auerbach on February 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the primer for anyone considering designing games
and for anyone working in the field of games and the toy industry.

Bernie DeKoven aka Major Fun is the master of gamemanship. He provides a rich resource of great value to anyone who cares about quality in games and expanding understanding of game strategy.
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