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The well-played game: A player's philosophy Paperback – 1978


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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,246,953 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

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The style is entertaining and playful – making the journey wonderfully consistent with the subject of a well-played game.
GREENAWAY
I think the reflections in this book go beyond just games and have insight to give about how we interact with others in a variety of setting.
Jacob R. Heidenreich
Apparently this book has been very influential among game designers of all types, from electronic games to large community games.
Stephen Bridge

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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Bridge on May 21, 2014
Format: Hardcover
This slightly revised reprint of a classic book on playing games (originally published in 1978) is not just an enlightening book on the structure and purposes of games, but is also (maybe MORE so) an entertaining and even profound look at one of the least examined aspects of human social interaction – the human compulsion to play, to create games. You might not think of games as having an obvious survival purpose, but all human societies have games. There must be something deeply important about them. De Koven could have turned these observations into a dull degree thesis; but instead the treatment is humorous and involving. We all play games from peek-a-boo with our children to war games, board games, sports, political games, and subtle undeclared games in many areas of our work lives and relationships. De Koven concentrates on declared games that people choose to participate in; but the lessons learned can be applied more broadly.

Every chapter contains surprises, as De Koven points out the importance of a “well-played game” – a game that all participants can enjoy and gain something from. If you don’t play “well” (including giving good effort, playing fairly, and a lot of other characteristics), people won’t want to play with you anymore. And you won’t get as much enjoyment from the game either. He points out that a game is a “shared experience” -- “not just one-on-one but one *with* one.” He also writes extensively about “gaming communities,” a group of people who come together to play. This could be your family or a group of friends or some huge number of people at a convention.
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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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By Jacob R. Heidenreich on August 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is an amazing book about the social interplay that goes into people playing a 'good game.' Even if someone wins a game, they might not feel it was a 'good game' if the win was too easy, or because the other players played poorly. What goes into making the play of a game a 'good game'? What do we do to try to make a game experience good? I think the reflections in this book go beyond just games and have insight to give about how we interact with others in a variety of setting. Well worth the read!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Well-Played Game is a truly timeless work. In many ways, it is even more important now than it was when it was published in 1978. Developments in digital games, fundamental changes to the systems ensconcing both college and professional sports, and a host of other developments in our game and play ecologies require us to re-examine what it means to play, and De Koven's work operates as a near perfect instrument for putting any and all games through a deep analysis, reminding us to ask the question, "Are we still playing?" and if not, "What will it take to help us play again?"

As a game designer and researcher, I can't believe I have come as far as I have in my career without reading this boom. As a game player, I am simply delighted to have found it.
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