Enter your mobile number below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
Getting the download link through email is temporarily not available. Please check back later.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture 1st Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0807046814
ISBN-10: 0807046817
Why is ISBN important?
ISBN
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$13.33 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
Buy new On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$22.60 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
More Buying Choices
35 New from $10.46 65 Used from $2.98
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student


The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
$22.60 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. Only 20 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture
  • +
  • Man, Play and Games
  • +
  • The Ambiguity of Play
Total price: $82.52
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A must-read for anybody with serious interest in games and play. It is the classic work in the field, still more informative than any of the modern books on the subject.” —Chris Crawford, author of Chris Crawford on Game Design

“A fascinating account of ‘man the player’ and the contribution of play to civilization.” —Harper’s

“A writer with a sharp and powerful intelligence, helped by a gift of expression and exposition which is very rare, Huizinga assembles and interprets one of the most fundamental elements of human culture: the instinct for play. Reading this volume, one suddenly discovers how profoundly the achievements in law, science, poverty, war, philosophy, and in the arts, are nourished by the instinct of play.” —Roger Caillois, editor of Diogenes

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; 1st edition (June 1, 1971)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807046817
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807046814
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #315,772 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Huizinga's genius is to find the idea of play hiding like a spider in the most unlikely places. The medieval "judicial duel", where justice was done by fighting? Clearly a development of ancient forms of combat - and that combat itself was always highly stylised and ritualised, which show, according to Huizinga, that they themselves were "play" forms. He demonstrates with convincing scholarship that Greek tragic drama and religion were also born from play.
The important thing for the reader to understand is that Huizinga does not think that play is in any way trivial or less than serious. In fact, he argues that play is a wider, more all-embracing concept than seriousness. Because the idea of seriousness excludes play, whereas the idea of play can very well be taken seriously. In the latter portion of his book, he laments the fact that play has been ripped from its organic place at the heart of communities and transferred to commercialized spheres of sport.
Contrary to what another reviewer says here, Huizinga was not writing in the 1950s but in 1938. A time when the old ideals of nobility and chivalry even in war had been exploded. A time when the very idea of play was something worth cherishing, something to attempt to preserve for a more fortunate future.
This is a masterpiece of deeply humanist historical and cultural analysis. If it annoys poststructuralists, well, its the poststructuralists who have the problems.
Steven Poole, author, Trigger Happy: Videogames and the Entertainment Revolution
Comment 104 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
I am surprised that this book has garnered mixed reviews. I consider it the most important book about play, and I write that as the author of a number of books on game design.

Why is this book so important? First, it clearly differentiates between play and games; there is a great deal of play-activity that does not constitute game-playing. That differentiation is lost on many people. Second, it explores the concept of play from an astounding number of directions. The strongest analysis is the linguistic analysis, which considers how many different languages address the concept of play. The word "play" is one of the semantically broadest words in the English language. From terms such as 'gun play' to 'play' as a theatrical production to 'play' as the freedom of movement of a mechanical part to 'player' as a device that plays a recording, the notion of play has spread broadly and deeply into many different cultures, and the special emphases that different cultures place on the meaning of play itself reveals much about the concept. What we call a 'bastard' in English is a 'spielkind' in German: a "play-child". The Japanese language has an entire formal sublanguage for addressing certain sensitive topics. "I am sad to learn that your father is playing at being dead" would be a literal translation of this kind of language. What does that say about the concept of play in the human mind?

Huizinga offers many other brilliant insights into the nature of play in the human species. His observations on the idea of demarcating territory in which certain rules of play apply -- a royal court, a court of law, or a basketball court -- are eye-opening. We humans have a subjunctive sense that we explore with variations on play.
Read more ›
Comment 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm sure the translation is as poor as everyone says, but for God's sake, this is one of only three or four absolutely essential twentieth-century books on the history of games and gaming. It's insightful and humorous even in English, so just imagine how good it is in Dutch. Along with Murray, Bell, Conway, et al, this is a necessary assignment for anyone who wants to talk about the subject. Five stars. Five! Five! Five!
2 Comments 38 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Please be aware that this book really is a horrible translation of Huizinga's original and insightful attempts to make sense of 'play'.
Huizinga's contribution of the new word 'ludiek', introduced through his translations in almost every language but English, is simply left out of the introduction and does not occur in the book. This means that the logic Huizinga has set up, pointing out how cultural practices are characterized by 'ludieke' features (i.e. features of their game-like quality) gets reduced to a book on 'game elements'. The entire logic of play creating culture therefore never comes across, but stays obscured behind game elements in culture.
This translation should really be immediately taken from the market or redone by someone who actually tries his best to translate with integrity. An indication of the complete lack thereof is the note of the editor that he changed the subtitle from 'play element of culture' (which Huizinga in his introduction clarifies he fought for on several occassions to be maintained) into 'play element in culture', because "English prepositions are not governed by logic". The English-centricity complete overrules at least 90% of what Huizinga actually expresses.
Horrible.
3 Comments 113 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
The search for the essence of our humanity has led thinkers to time and again single out one aspect of our complex nature. We are 'the talking creature' and we are the 'rational being' and we are 'the fabricator' and maker of worlds. We are the creature 'made in the image of God" and the only one capable of

'imitato dei'. And we are also 'homo ludens' the creature for whom play is at the essence of our being .

Huizinga may be too much of a generalist for many today, but he has a great perception and he elaborates and investigates it in an insightful way.

" If we cannot play we cannot begin to be fully human"
Comment 14 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture