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The Well-Played Game: A Player's Philosophy (MIT Press) Hardcover – August 23, 2013
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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 book is important. If you have not read it, read it. If you already have, browse it and you will almost certainly find small details and aspects of play and games that you already knew but failed to take into account. And, more importantly, please rewrite this book in a different tone, in a different format, make YouTube videos about some of its ideas, create web comics about them, share the stories with your students, use its anecdotes in your own work. That is the way that classics are supposed to be dealt with.(Gonzalo Frasca Game Studies)
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.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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. With regard to why he wrote this book, adding an insightful Foreword by Eric Zimmerman and a new Preface, "I hope it will do two things for you: 1) confirm your suspicions that, at their heart, games are all about fun, and 2) raise your appreciation not only for the elegance of a well-designed game but also for the ingenuity and resourcefulness of players. If successful, it will help you bring more fun to yourself, your work, and your community."
What De Koven created more than 30 years ago with the first edition was (and remains) a "game" in the form of a never-ending process of personal discovery. As is also true of John Bunyan's Pilgrim, the individual's journey is one shared with others in an evolving community. "In order to play well together, we need something which we can all hold in common." Yes, but commonality does not preclude individuality. On the contrary, it nourishes and enriches it. "When we're playing, we're not thinking about how well we're playing. We're not even thinking about playing." To paraphrase René Descartes, "I play, therefore I am." More to the point, "I play, therefore I feel fulfilled."
De Koven concludes his book by sharing a few "inklings of possibilities," while urging his reader to explore the well-played game, continuing and extending it in games played with others. These final thoughts are best revealed within the narrative of the book, in context. However, I suggest Bernie De Koven celebrates and affirms shared joy on what Oliver Wendell Holmes once referred to as "the other side of complexity." That is, beyond brutish, self-serving competition; beyond elaborate rules and regulations; and even beyond the design of the given "game." You'll know when you reach this state of mind/heart/spirit, although you may not be able to describe it. You really will.