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>From International Viewpoints (IVy) Issue 18 - August 1994
See Home Page at http://home8.inet.tele.dk/ivy/
By Flemming Funch, USA(1)
Imagine that you are all-knowing and all-powerful. Whatever you wanted
to happen would happen instantly the moment you thought it. There
is nothing new to do or learn because you already know about it. Now,
what would you do for entertainment?
It would rather quickly get boring to know everything and to be
There is really no challenge in it, no surprises, no joy of learning
new things, no satisfaction in overcoming obstacles. In short, there
would be no game.
What makes life fun is generally the pleasant surprises and successes
you get by struggling with the issues of life, and winning despite
If you always got your way and you always knew in advance what would
happen, it wouldn't really be fun.
What it comes down to is that life is meant to be a game, with all
that it implies.
What is a game?
First of all, games are fun. Life is meant to be fun and exciting
too. If it wasn't, then why bother in the first place. If life gets
too serious then you have lost track of what you are playing, you
are playing something you don't want to play. Restoring the game will
bring back the fun and excitement.
What makes a game a game is that it has a purpose, and it has a
balance between freedom and barriers.
There has to be something that you want that you don't have, which
is the goal or purpose or object of the game. It doesn't really matter
if you have it before the game starts. You give it up in order to
win it back through the rules of the game. For example, if you are
going to run a race against somebody else, it doesn't really matter
if you are standing on the finish line 5 minutes before the race.
You are still going to walk away and pretend that now it is important
to get back to that finish line very quickly.
A game has to have some restrictions, barriers, obstacles, opposing
players, hidden elements, surprises, and so forth. That is, you need
to give up some knowledge, control, and responsibility to play a game.
You have to go along with the idea that part of the playing field
is now not under your control, but possibly under somebody else's.
You have to go along with the idea that there are things you don't
know, and possibly shouldn't know about. You have to allow mysteries
to exist and allow yourself to be surprised when you find out
new. That allows you to learn.
A game also has rules. These are barriers that outline what one is
supposed to do or not do to play the game. Again, these are artificial
limits to freedom, to create an exciting challenge in playing the
game. For example, in soccer you can't touch the ball with your hands,
and you are supposed to stay inside the field. Life is really not
There also has to be freedoms in a game. Those are the things you
can do by your own determinism, the actions you can take to get ahead
in the game. If there were no freedoms in a game it would be just
as boring as if there were total freedom. So, there has to be enough
freedoms to have a chance against the barriers.
Balance = interest
For the game to be interesting there has to be a suitable balance
between the freedoms and the barriers. They don't have to be exactly
equal, but it shouldn't be too far off. There has to be the real
of losing the game, but the fun comes out of actually overcoming the
obstacles and winning.
Part of the freedom/barrier balance is also the amount of action,
randomity, or variety in the game. That is, how many different kinds
of things that can happen or that you can do, and also how fast they
are happening. A game tends to get more interesting if there are many
different elements and there still is a balance between barriers
Having a game is more interesting than not having a game. However,
the catch about it is that it is by definition a lower state of
than the state of not having to play a game. You have to forget things
to play a game, you have to give up control, pretend that you aren't
in charge. That is fine and dandy as long as you know you are doing
it. The trouble is when you forget something in order to play a game,
and then you get confused and forget that you forgot it, and you never
un-forget it again.
It is necessary to know enough about games to be able to remedy them
if they go wrong. The ways they can go wrong are mostly:
Taking them seriously and forgetting that they are fun.
Playing something you don't want to play.
Forgetting what you forgot in order to play the game.
Too many barriers in the game.
Too much freedom, too few barriers.
The rules have been forgotten.
Remedying any of these things in regard to life would tend to make
it more rewarding in many ways.
(1)Page 77 of Flemming
Funchs Technical Essays, Basics Essay # 2 , 21 August 1992.
These books can be obtained direct from Flemming. The Address is:
Flemming Funch, 7448 Oak Park Ave, Van Nuys, CA 91406, USA, or:
ffunch at newciv.org
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