Flusser, “Games”

This is my translation of a very brief, very early essay Flusser wrote about games, which makes homo ludens the designation for the human specie from the start. But this is not as a means of setting humans apart from, say, animals — animals clearly play in any case. Rather Flusser wants to use play to distinguish 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 in resistance to conventional, rule-bound engagement with games, in play that changes or creates new games, as, say, a poet plays with language or a philosopher exercises critical judgement on a game, or plays 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).

Author: Nancy Roth