Games have been credited with a number of useful side effects – from increasing productivity to making us into better human beings. But wait: what about fun? Isn’t play supposed to be fun? What ever happened to our right to escape into the virtual worlds of games? We want useless, purposeless, unserious games!

Playfulness as a design feature is staking out a claim in many areas of life. The arts, music, film, architecture, design, advertising ... Is it possible that playfulness is the lowest common denominator of these disciplines, a thread that runs through creative expressions of all kinds? Even waiting for a download on the internet is no longer boring when we are offered a little game to pass the time.

Playfulness does not stand in opposition to concentration but emphasizes intuitive approaches. “Could I quickly press 'save' at this point in my life, and try out something new?” Play can also stand for trial and error, for training, for practice. Rehearsing something over and over again until we finally achieve a goal. There’s always the possibility to restart.
Taken as a general principle, this approach can also be applied to more serious aspects of life. Career-planning as an adventure game? Approaching things playfully can make our lives easier, liberate our thoughts from determinism, and turn us into more flexible agents. But isn’t that exactly what society wants us to be? Is flexible employment just the next level beyond the security of a safe long-term job?

The unbearable lightness of playing? Are social networking sites such as facebook just playing fields? Consensual hallucinations, which allow us to learn by trial and error how to hone our social skills? It was Google CEO Eric Schmidt who suggested that we all receive a new identity when we come of age, and leave behind our youthful sins. Get a new name, get a new life. 1UP. Faites vos jeux.

Are these social transformations really happening? Are they beneficial or detrimental to social cohesion and development? Only one thing is clear: the ludic society is coming. We invite you to explore this new world with us when we discuss playfulness with our guests at the Games Culture Circle.

Moderation: Uke Bosse, Andreas Lange
Talkguests: Eric Zimmerman, Ahmet Acar, Iepe B.T. Rubingh

Produced by A MAZE.

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