This is my translation of a very brief, very early essay Flusser wrote about games, containing his telling suggestion that homo ludens should designate the human specie. But this is not, as others — notably Johan Huizinga — proposed, as a means of setting humans apart from, say, animals, but because play distinguishes humans from their devices. The essay sketches in a vast field for games, embracing just about any form of structured human communication. The concept of “play” seems to hover above it all, sometimes as the relatively straightforward “playing” of a game, but also playing with a game, as, say, a poet plays with language or a musician plays and instrument, or playing one game against others, “translating” between them.
Spiele was published in German in 1968 in the Frankfurter Allgemeine newspaper with the title “Die Welt Als Spiel” and in Portuguese in 1967 in the O Estado de São Paulo newspaper with the tile “Jogos”. It was reprinted to accompany Florian Rötzer’s contribution to the International Flusser Lectures, Ist das Leben ein Spiel? — Aspekte einer Philosophie des Spiels und eines Denkens ohne Fundamente (Cologne: Walther König, 2013).