ENG263H5 • Play and Games

Despite its reputation as a diversion from the serious activities of life, play has been understood by philosophers and social theorists as essential to human development and as the foundation of freedom, self-understanding, civic identity, social justice, and artistic contemplation. This course surveys the ways and reasons we play in relationship to the objects we play with, including things that are more normally thought of as games—card and board games, sports, toys, video games—as well as other sites of playful thought and action, like paintings, novels, dramatic texts, fashion, and conflict management. Students in this course will encounter major scholars of play (Schiller, Huizinga, Caillois, Winnicott, Geertz, Flanagan, McGonigal, among others) and designers of rules (Emperor Yao, Magie and Darrow, Will Wright, Sid Meier, among others), key terms and concepts in the analysis of play and games, as well as games and ludic enterprises across a variety of cultures and media. Students will also consider problems in play and games like cheating, addiction, and gamification.

Open to students who have successfully completed a minimum of 4.0 credits. Students who do not meet the prerequisite but are enrolled in any 100-level ENG or DRE course (except ENG100H5) may petition the department in writing for approval to take the course. See the guidelines for written petitions on the department website.
In Class