Pub. Date:
Beacon Press
Homo Ludens

Homo Ludens

by Johan Huizinga
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In Homo Ludens, the classic evaluation of play that has become a “must-read” for those in game design, Dutch philosopher Johan Huizinga defines play as the central activity in flourishing societies. Like civilization, play requires structure and participants willing to create within limits. Starting with Plato, Huizinga traces the contribution of Homo Ludens, or “Man the player” through Medieval Times, the Renaissance, and into our modern civilization. Huizinga defines play against a rich theoretical background, using cross-cultural examples from the humanities, business, and politics. Homo Ludens defines play for generations to come.

"A happier age than ours once made bold to call our species by the name of Homo Sapiens. In the course of time we have come to realize that we are not so reasonable after all as the Eighteenth Century with its worship of reason and naive optimism, though us; "hence moder fashion inclines to designate our species asHomo Faber: Man the Maker. But though faber may not be quite so dubious as sapiens it is, as a name specific of the human being, even less appropriate, seeing that many animals too are makers. There is a third function, howver, applicable to both human and animal life, and just as important as reasoning and making—namely, playing. it seems to me that next to Homo Faber, and perhaps on the same level as Homo Sapiens, Homo Ludens, Man the Player, deserves a place in our nomenclature. "—from the Foreward, by Johan Huizinga

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780807046814
Publisher: Beacon Press
Publication date: 06/28/1971
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 220
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

"Johan Huizinga (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈjoːɦɑn ˈɦœyzɪŋɣaː]) (December 7, 1872 – February 1, 1945), was a Dutch historian and one of the founders of modern cultural history." (

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Homo Ludens 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
humdog on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the few available that try to put play into a cultural and historical context.
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Homo Ludens or "Man the Player", written in 1938 by Dutch historian, cultural theorist and professor Johan Huizinga, discusses the importance of the play element of culture and society. Huizinga uses the term "Play Theory" within the book to define the conceptual space in which play occurs.One of the most significant (human and cultural) aspects of play is that it is fun. Huizinga suggests that play is primary to and a necessary (though not sufficient) condition of the generation of culture. In his discussion of this Huizinga has much to say about the words for play in different languages. Perhaps the most extraordinary remark concerns the Latin language. ¿It is remarkable that ludus, as the general term for play, has not only not passed into the Romance languages but has left hardly any traces there, so far as I can see". The cultural aspects of play range widely over law, war, poetry and philosophy. While ludus is seen as fundamental for human civilization and even myth-making it is the beginnings of play in the observation of the activity of animals that impressed me. Huizinga makes it clear that animals played first - this along with his other observations make the book a fascinating take on an essential aspect of human activity.