Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games

Bruce Caron Winter 1992

Frontispiece

Eudoxia In Eudoxia, which spreads both upward and down, with winding alleys, steps, dead ends, hovels, a carpet is preserved in which you can observe the city’s true form. At first sight nothing seems to resemble Eudoxia less than the design of that carpet, laid out in symmetrical motives whose patterns are repeated along straight and circular lines, interwoven with brilliantly colored spires, in a repetition that can be followed throughout the whole woof. But if you pause and examine it carefully, you become convinced that each place in the carpet corresponds to a place in the city and all the things contained in the city are included in the design, arranged according to their true relationship, which escapes your eye distracted by the bustle, the throngs, the shoving. All of Eudoxia’s confusion, the mules’ braying, the lampblack stains, the fish smell is what is evident in the incomplete perspective you grasp; but the carpet proves that there is a point from which the city shows its true proportions, the geometrical scheme implicit in its every, tiniest detail. It is easy to get lost in Eudoxia: but when you concentrate and stare at the carpet, you recognize the street you were seeking in a crimson or indigo or magenta thread which, in a wide loop, brings you to the purple enclosure that is your real destination. Every inhabitant of Eudoxia compares the carpet’s immobile order with his own image of the city, an anguish of his own, and each can find, concealed among the arabesques, an answer, the story of his life, the twists of fate. An oracle was questioned about the mysterious bond between two objects so dissimilar as the carpet and the city. One of the two objects—the oracle replied—has the form the gods gave the starry sky and the orbits in which the worlds revolve; the other is an approximate reflection, like every human creation.

For some time the augurs had been sure that the carpet’s harmonious pattern was of divine origin. The oracle was interpreted in this sense, arousing no controversy. But you could, similarly, come to the opposite conclusion: that the true map of the universe is the city of Eudoxia, just as it is, a stain that spreads out shapelessly, with crooked streets, houses that crumble one upon the other amid clouds of dust, fires, screams in the darkness. Italo Calvino Invisible Cities

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This bias towards the temporal ... is an instance of what Soja (1989) has termed “the suppression of space in social theory.” As he demonstrates, both positivist and Marxist historians and sociologists—with the exception of Canadian economic historian and communication theorist Harold Innis, who is not mentioned in his account, and subsequent thinkers influenced by him—have tended to privilege historical determinations in the interpretation of society and culture, and to render spatial determinants as both static and secondary. (Berland, 39)

Part One: The Problem of Place

The Problem of not Problematizing Place The human sciences have not problematized space sufficiently. We lack a fundamental understanding of the spatial qualities of action, and of the historical processes that produce places we call “nations.” I find it curious that even theorists, such as Foucault, Bourdieu, and Giddens, whose work rests directly upon the spatial order of actions and institutions, have failed to significantly address the epistemological and historical processes that underlie our concept of space. The modernist notion of “space,” of a vacuous undifferentiated universe where physical and metaphysical laws apply uniformly—the space of experimental reason that defies local aberration; the space of truth—still underpins critical social theories long after these have problematized space’s younger sister: time. At the drawing boards of national histories, time is the chalk, but space is the board itself—all

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games histories “take place” and “make time”; these are the body and the life-narrative of nations.

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To speak of a modernist notion of “space” suggests alternative notions. “Pre-modern” and “extra-modern” come to mind, if one wishes to again to temporalize modernity. But then that which is extra-modern not only exists outside the “time” of modernity, but also outside its “space.” In it universalizing narrative of (evolutionary) development, modernity has defined itself as a time in advance of other times. So we find stone-age peoples in the Philippines, and a pre-industrial third-world advancing (or not) upon the atomic clock that has passed now from London to New York to Tokyo. All this talk of time, and silence on space. The post-modern historicization of modernity problematizes its control over the clock, but we have yet to address modernity’s death grip on space. In The Order of Things, Foucault reminds us of a place in time where all things existed in a patterned order somewhat like the carpet of Eudoxia. I am not simply saying that people conceived of time and space in this fashion, although this is so—what I wish to show is that a universe so conceived allowed people to live in places (also imagined) that were astoundingly different from the spaces of modern nations, and that the process of nation formation was necessarily preceded by the epistemological shift which Foucault described (although again not sufficiently in it spatial nature). The co+incidence of this epistemological shift with the early reformation in Europe and the initial opening up of the New World; with the founding of universities in Paris and Oxford, and, subsequently, the particularist speculations of Ockham at Paris and the vernacular deritualization of praxis by Wycliff at Oxford; with the musings of Copernicus and the decentering of the Earth; with the invention of

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cross-ocean navigation technologies and the maps these explorations required; and with the need for accurate survey technology to articulate land holdings in new colonies, and the effects of cultural decentering because of travels to new worlds (to other places)— particularization re-places similitude in the natural sciences, and relativization re-places cosmic order in the physical sciences—all of this occurs centuries before the modern nation is announced, but also happens in those very places where the nation-state is to be conceived. I don’t have a blow-by-blow description of the transition from the epistemology of place-as-microcosm to that of space-as-empty-anduniform. But it is relatively evident that the latter formed the epistemology upon which the nation rests. The task becomes that of critically revaluing our theories to uncover these spatial epistemological assumptions, and then forging a spatially selfreflective critical theory that will allow for the problemization of place in ethnographic work. From Places to Nation Spaces Turning now to the uniform space of nations1, two spatial processes seem to be working in the creation of nations. The first process in the spatial consummation of the nation is a process I will call “interiorization.” This is the emptying out of pre-existing places within the nation’s borders—the absolute destruction in place and memory of the sui-generis distinctions that formerly articulated localities. These distinctions are elided together with the verbal (dialectical) distinctions that once marked them. National languages, enforced through national education systems, erase local knowledges
1Nations are always plural. They were and are created within a spatial grammar of contraposition.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games and those pre-existing customs formerly used to distinguish among locales—locally exclusive festivals, for one example, local laws for another.

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A totalizing uniformity of space is created within the borders of the nation. Transportation and communication links are established. Internal boundaries are suppressed and interior-travel—the new pilgrimage which Anderson describes—is promoted. Centralized military and legal control is applied across the map of the nation. Local disturbances are now a matter of national concern. The national boundaries create a uniform power container that subjugates all citizens in a relatively equal fashion (before this time, as we learned from Discipline and Punish, the monarch’s gaze was focused narrowly: after this we are all guilty, and await the gendarme’s hail). National maps provide a visual mandala of the national space, reinforcing the boundedness and internal connectivity of the nation. Previously locatable local boundaries disappear from maps and from the landscape. Boundary markers are torn down or simply cease to have their semiotic effect. Space and the History of the Nation Notion In Western Europe much of this interiorization had already taken place in advance of the formation of nations—it informed the style of the modern nation-state. But in the colonies of Europe, those subaltern nations created by the European nations, the process of interiorization is pro-active and more evident as a feature in the creation of the nation. The infrastructure development of India, its survey, and the complete re-naming of its places to fit an English tongue, and to fill an English notion of exotic nostalgia. Coromandel, Malabar, Calcutta, Darjeeling: English names on English maps and

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railroad schedules. A subsequent renaming of places occurred when India became independent. The new names were announced to reflect the deep and hoary history of the Nation of India, a space that, in fact, never existed in anyone’s imagination before the British arrived. It might be instructive to consider the nation as a necessarily post-colonial phenomenon (in terms of space/place). By this I mean to suggest that much of Western Europe (Germany, Benelux, the British Isles, Normandy) was itself a “colonized” space due to centuries of spatial reconfiguration: originally by Rome, and later by internal and external nomadic incursions and by Christian polities (Christianity was as foreign to these lands as it was to India). The indigenous aboriginal populations (their own “Indians”) of Western Europe were, over several hundred years, replaced and replenished by outside rulers including, at least peripherally, Turks, Moors, and Huns, and internally, by Saxon, Norse and Norman conquests. The ultimate conquest was that perpetrated by institutions of the church. By 1500, the sui generis place attachments of Western Europe had long been severed and reinstituted under the auspices of the church. And by 1800 the church’s hold over its “hierogenous zones2” in Western Europe had been effectively severed again by the Reformation. At the time of the blossoming of the modern nation and in terms of space and language (I do not wish to press this analogy in terms of politics or economics), Western European states already fit a post-colonial description3.
2 As will be seen below, the notion of “sacred space,” similarly, the notion of “national space” are varieties of fabricated places. Because of the implied theological meanings of “sacred space,” I propose an alternate term, “hierogenous zone,” for places that generate hieros (the sacred, the supernatural, shades, demons, whatever). As Bourdieu (1988) pointed out, one of the first steps towards a truly scientific human science is made away from naturalized, scholarly commonsensical descriptions. The hierogenous zone is a site of embodied practice embedded within its locale, or more recently, a channel and a time on the television schedule. 3 So too, the national languages of Western Europe are themselves neo-local,

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The second process, which I will call “rearticulation,” is a curious and necessary perversion of the first. This involves the rearticulation of locales as sites of the nation. National monuments, public buildings, national highways and railroads, battlefields, stadiums, and also cities, natural parks, and rural habitats: all become emblematic of the nation, of its history, its naturalized beginnings and its future glory. A waterfall becomes an object of national pride. Locales are presented in their distinction as “capitals” or “body parts” of the nation: for example the “corn (or porn) capital of America;” “the heart of American industry.” As Jennifer Robertson (1991) points out, the notion of furusato (the Japanese nostalgic traditional village place) applies both to the individual reconstructed village (which offered a menu of required furusato ingredients and a zest of reconsidered local treats) and metonymically to Japan as a nation. Furosato is Japan. Forgetting to Remember The rearticulation of the nation occurs continuously. It is applied to focus national attention, and divert the same. It informs the national imagination. This rearticulation happens not only internally, but provides the narrative for external perspectives—the nation continually reinvents the spaces of other nations. Reagan’s evil empire of communism has been replaced by Yeltsin’s inept (and perhaps more dangerous by this) commonwealth of independent states. Ex-colonies reinvent relationships with their ex-rulers—by redescribing the space of the other. The rearticulation of locales succeeds only insofar as places can replace spaces within the modern epistemology. The places of modernity must be reinforced by an active national ideology, or else they will fall prey to irony and re-imagining. Before the nation, each

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place was its own author, liable only to its own claims. The authority and authenticity of each place rested upon those who made the claims for that particular place. But these claims also were made upon epistemological grounds that supported the idea of places. Such a place may offer sanctuary, special powers, healing waters, youthful reinvigoration, Epiphanies of beauty or fear: based on the story of the place, on its natural markings, and on an epistemology that describes knowledge as em-placed. Because there is actually no room for “places” in the epistemology of the modern nation, the reinvented place, the national locale, is of a completely different epistemological order from the prenational (pre-modern) place or locale. As sites created by and for the fabrication of experience, they require maintenance, particularly, efforts to escape suspicion and doubt. So, they rely upon the processes of naturalization for their claim to have epistemological support. As this claim is contestable, nations must work even harder, they must avoid even the suspicion of a doubt. Nations require continuous performances of what Homi Bhabha termed “the problematic totalization of the national will” (1990, 311). This time of “forgetting to remember,” (ibid.) is a strategy for eliciting “selective inattention” (Goffman 1961, 38): a boundary condition required for the ruling serious game (much more about this below) to commence. Authenticity for the national space is an expensive and continuous proposition. The modern national place cannot violate undifferentiated space. It cannot offer miraculous cures, it cannot reverse the uniform unfolding of time. Ultimately, national places are subject to one fragile authority—that of the nation: we see flags sprout in a sudden spring of nationalist sentiment when a war is announced, and the same flags burned when the armies return without

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games employment. We witnessed in a week every (well most) public statue(s) of Lenin disappear across the former Soviet territories.

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The replacement of places that are epistemologically grounded with fabricated places that uneasily hide their epistemological contradictions—places transformed out of space only by the force of ideological equivocation—is actually the destruction of “place” across the face of the planet. I do not wish to suggest that our epistemology4 is, somehow morally deficient, nor to promote nostalgia for “old-time” places. The suggestion that a critique of the modern place must involve a romantic return to a former authenticity is itself a modernist counter-move. The interest in other places and their epistemologies is an attempt to discover alternative strategies of place which might inform a theory of place that would re+place the vacuous space of modernity. The Hyperlocale For much of human history, activities of various sorts have created “places” from “spaces”, places that are identifiable as locales. Recently, the characteristic of places to be tied to locales seems to be loosening in the face of the modern “global place.” Part of this has to do with the increased distanciation brought about by communications and transportation technologies. Another part, as we have seen, is the articulation of this distanciated space by the processes of nation formation and maintenance. As Anthony Giddens noted5, the disembedding mechanisms of modernity tend to evacuate the historical idiosyncratic locality of place
4Epistemology is simply another level of fabrication, made innocent (if it is) only by its democracy—we are all subject to it. Yet this universalized/-izing notion of epistemology (particularly Foucault’s notion of episteme) is itself the result of the application of the modern spatial formula: it declares “what is really true must hold true everywhere.” Truth is never local nowadays.

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in favor of re-embedded globaly-organized places. This new planetary realm is, in effect, a type of “hyper-locality”, one consequence of which is a continuing impact upon the reality claims of other, necessarily smaller localities and their realms. What seems evident is that processes in modernity act to sever places from locales, and that this tends to un-transform the local places back into spaces. The hegemony of modern space (and time) seems to be an accomplished fact. We have entered the realm of the hyperlocale, of global spaces taking on the facade of local places. The markings that formerly signaled the individual distinction of the locale now play as signifiers within a global language of marking. They are the simulacra (cf. Baudrillard, 1983) of what were formerly individuated places. We now create local places as tourist destinations, demarcated and marketed through iconic architectural motifs. The Eiffel Tower, the Taj Mahal, Big Ben, the Venice Canals, the Great Wall: Epcot Center at Disneyworld (the word “world” is no mistake) re-places the world as a hyperlocale, as a semiosis of equivalent meanings. This global metropolitan location supports the nation as one-among-equals: but it elides a good portion of the world in its picturesque montage. Where is Islam in this picture? Where is Africa? Does the hyperlocale admit to any resistance? Hardly—there is no obvious locus of active resistance to modern nation formation— everyone seems to want a place in Disneyworld. Yet, how uniformly has the epistemology of modern space/time penetrated across the globe? Clearly the global economy and world systems implicated in
5For a discussion of Giddens’s use of time-space relations, see: Gregory, 1985. “Modernity,” as a synthetic term used to describe historically embedded but increasingly globalized institutions and structuration, has not acquired a consensus of meanings in the literature, I am comfortable with Giddens’s outline of its features (cf. Giddens, 1990).

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this process are active agents in the spread of the modern episteme. But aren’t there dis-enfranchised, marginalized peoples who have not so much resisted as they have been ignored? Are there contra-nations out there? What is a post-modern nation? Must we re-invent the locale for the epistemology of modernity to come into critical focus, ? How do we study alternatives to the modern place? Where do we look? Can an archaeology of spatial knowledge help us here? What is the role of ethnography? The human sciences have not problematized space sufficiently. We lack a fundamental understanding of the spatial qualities of action, and of the historical processes that produce places we call “nations.” Partly, this theoretical oversight is due to the priority that space has within modern epistemology. We valorize only knowledges that are moveable. For a century, anthropologists have brought back souvenir knowledges of “other cultures” as though these represented the actual knowledges in play in these society. As Bourdieu, Foucault, and Giddens (among others) remind us, the study of practice requires the study of places of practice. We need a theory of space—and of spatialized practice—that will allow this type of study. What follows is the beginning of such a theory.

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It is not the act [of sexual intercourse] as such that the spirit of the language tends to conceive as play; rather the road thereto, the preparation for and introduction to ‘love’, which is often made enticing by all sorts of playing. This is particularly true when one of the sexes has to rouse or win the other over to copulation. (Huizinga 1949, 43) One's feel for the game is not infallible; it is shared out unequally between players, in a society as in a team. Sometimes it is completely lacking, notably in tragic situations, when people appeal to wise men who, in Kabylia are often poets too and who know how rule aimed to guarantee can be saved. But this freedom of invention and improvisation which enables the infinity of moves allowed by the game to be produced (as in chess) has the same limits as the game. The strategies adapted in playing the game of Kabyle marriage, which do not involve land and the threat of sharing it out (because of the joint ownership in the equal sharing out of land between agnates), would not be suitable in playing the game of Béarn marriage, where you have above all to keep hold of your house and your land. (Bourdieu 1990, 63) “In daily life, games are seen as part of recreation and ‘in principle devoid of important repercussions upon the solidity and continuity of collective and institutional life.’ [from: Caillois 1957, p.99] Games can be fun to play, and fun alone is the approved reason for playing them. Because serious activity need not justify itself in terms of the fun it provides, we have neglected to develop an analytical view of fun and an appreciation of the light that fun throws on interaction in general. This paper attempts to see how far one can go by treating fun seriously.” (Goffman 1961, 17)

Part Two: The Theory of Serious Games
Preliminary Stuff The basic notion of a theory of serious games is that society as an object of study can be described as a set of serious and non-serious games which involve its members in rule-governed and rule-creating

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actions. As Giddens (1991) notes, the “sociologist’s ‘society’, applied to the period of modernity at any rate, is a nation-state...” (15). As such, societies and nations today (socialization and nationalism) are mutually implicated. Yet, the genres of serious games played in the nation-state are different from those played in other societies. By exploring this difference we will be able to better describe the contingent possibilities of action within each type of society. The notion of “society as serious game” is not presented as a monopolistic explanatory tool, but rather as a descriptive figure more nimble at times than “society as text” or “society as drama.” Drama and text are both implied in the play of serious games (more of this later). Similarly, members of a society can perhaps be better described as “players,” and “pawns” rather than as “agents6” or “actors.” This theory brings to the fore the embodied performative aspect of society. The actual serious games that envelope us, the society we belong to and others we encounter as “strangers,” are only formally delimited by the theoretical model of serious games. This theory provides the barest of form, a basis upon which any number of serious games, fantastic or not, can be (and have been) fashioned. This, as Bourdieu notes, is the advantage of having such a model: “even if it remains for the most part empty, even if what it provides us with are above all warnings and programmatic guidelines, [having a model] means that I will choose my subjects in a different way...” (1990, 160).
6The terminology is confused, perhaps, as the following description of the “player” relates very much to Bourdieu’s and Giddens’s notion of the “agent.” Giddens discounts (and so do I) the value of the term “player” in its British dramatistic sense (what Americans would call a “stage actor”). I will stay with the term “player” because not only do they make “plays” but they are also involved in serious (or deep, or thick) play. The Derridian overtones are also important here.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games Embedded in the following text is also an implicit critique of

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rationalism as Habermas (1984) would have us use this concept; that is, of rationalism as a mature/advanced state of dialectical cultural growth/evolution. At the end, it is hoped that the reader might consider instead that rationalism has been a remarkably successful strategy for legitimizing certain aspects of serious games. As such it is a powerful alibi for actions, no more, but certainly this is enough of a role for any concept. In order to approach play seriously (yes, this also means “rationally”) an expanded and reordered notion of rationality is needed, one not based on the pristine separation of subjective and objective realms. (For more discussion of—mainly objections to— objectivism, See: Bourdieu 1988, 781; 1990, 62-63 & 184; Giddens 1987, 59-60, Lakoff 1987, xiv; Weedon 1987, 78-80.) As Zizek(1991, 179-81) —after Lacan—notes, it is time for dialecticians to “learn to count to four”, to embrace the negative, the difference outside of serious pretensions of the ruling game. (Part III below will outline this “trialectic” process.) Herein is presented a discussion of terms like “nationalism” and “game”, “work” and “play”, “serious” and “trivial”, “risk,” and “action”. In their new (or rediscovered) meanings these terms become tools of the game of creating a theory of games. As the semantic space of such terms and many others changes, these changes are signals of the transformations I wish to describe, transformations as broad and profound as the Protestant Reformation, and as narrow— and yet profound—as the shift from the performance of a single Japanese matsuri as a festival to its performance as a pageant. The following theory of games may be seen as a part of the change from a modern to a post-modern outlook (See: Kroker), or it may not. What it demands of the reader is not that it be accepted as true, but rather

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games that it be taken seriously, which is all that any game can actually demand. Strategic Play This paper will explore Pierre Bourdieu’s notion of “strategic

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action” from the perspective that social action generally takes place within frameworks or contexts that can productively be called “serious games.” Action, particularly in its nation-creating and sustaining capacities, can be discussed using terms defined in the theory of serious games. Before looking at this serious game theory’s more specific socioanthropolinguistic (it’s an ugly word but someone has to use it) extensions, the paper will introduce the theory’s place within the human sciences. In serious game theory, festivals, pageants, rituals, rites, breakfast conversations, working lunches, clandestine afternoon trysts (Huizinga’s winding road to copulation), supermarket checkout encounters, freeway driving, political conventions, supreme court sessions, military coups: each of the various social encounters that envelope our actions from day to day or minute to minute are individually determined by the game that promotes and sustains its context and its conduct. Donning a three-piece suit for a business meeting is actually much more than superficially analogous to donning one’s whites for a cricket match. Serious game theory allows for a further examination into the strategic logic of suit-donning and other actions, as well as a perspective on the knowledges (habitus) and constraints that frame these actions. The use of an extended theory of “serious games”— extended, that is from Erving Goffman’s original notion of “game

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games encounters” (1961)—provides a methodological entrée to what Bourdieu calls “the feel for the game:”
I wanted, so to speak, to reintroduce agents that Lévi-Strauss and the structuralists, among others Althusser, tended to abolish, making them into simple epiphenoma of structure. And I mean agents, not subjects. Action is not the mere carrying out of a rule, or obedience to a rule. Social agents, in archaic societies as well as in ours, are not automata regulated like clocks, in accordance with laws which they do not understand. In the most complex games, matrimonial exchange for instance, or ritual practices, they put into action the incorporated principles of a generative habitus: this system of dispositions can be imagined by analogy with Chomsky's generative grammar—with this difference: I am talking about dispositions acquired through experience, thus variable from place to place and time to time. This 'feel for the game', as we call it, is what enables an infinite number of 'moves' to be made, adapted to the infinite number of possible situations which no rule, however complete, can foresee. And so, I replaced the rules of kinship with matrimonial strategies. (Bourdieu 1990, 9)

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Specifically, agency is found in both performances (events and their contexts) and texts (oral, written, and video), and, more problematically, in the unexpectedly “thick” region between these two aspects7. Serious game theory allows for explorations into the actions evidenced in performances, into the semantic ordering of texts, and most significantly, of the structure of the hidden space between these. The goal of serious game theory is to provide the minimal form for social action, a description wherein action and concept (performance and narrative) are not transparently connected. As
7 Unexpected because the social order presents itself as transparent on both surfaces, as a structured order of meanings and practices that correspond to each other without hidden intermediaries. Thus, studies of meaning, (e.g., those of religious doctrines or political ideologies) have seen no difficulty in asserting that this level is both internally consistent and can be mapped also on the action surface of rituals—as actions designed to “represent” ideational notions. Similarly, structural/functionalist descriptions of actions and objects see no difficulty in asserting the clear and comprehensive accord between these and the “worldviews” that they “represent.” The society sees itself as a “thin” surface where thought and action are consistent and their connections immediate. Game theory posits a region between these two surfaces, and then shows that the structures on both surfaces are arbitrarily determined within this thick interstice where meanings and actions are not taken seriously.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games Giddens (and others, such as Geertz, 1973a and Boon, 1982) have

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suggested, action must not be confused with discursive knowledge: “You can’t wink (or burlesque one) without knowing what counts as winking or how, physically, to contract your eyelids,... But to draw from such truths the conclusion that knowing how to wink is winking...is to betray a deep confusion as, taking thin descriptions for thick, to identify winking with eyelid contractions...”(Geertz 1973a, 12). The problematic that Geertz uncovered with his call for “thick description” is one of determining what goes on between the wornsmooth surfaces of narrative, on one hand, and performance, on the other. Between these two hands, or behind them, something is said to be happening. What we get out of Geertz is talk of “deep play” and “meta-commentaries” (1972) What we need is just enough form to pry these two surfaces apart. Between knowing how (and when and where and with whom) to wink and doing it, lies—a lie8, or rather a whole passel of lies. (Actually, I prefer Barthes’s term, “alibi,” but am uncertain of the proper group adjective. We could be looking at a cohort of alibis.) The biggest alibi of all is actually the one that narrative gives to performance, and that performance uses on narrative (it never fails), and it is something like this: “I am good and true and beautiful, and I am just like you.” We can thus restate the
8 This is not as distressing as it might sound. As Umberto Eco noted: “semiotics is in principle the discipline studying everything which can be used in order to lie” (1976, 7 emphasis in the original). This does, however, leave us with a theory of “games” based on a theory of “lies” with which to replace a theory of “culture” based on notions of universal “truths.” This suggests some necessary lowering of expectations. Like the two fools in Bruegel’s engraving (See: frontspiece) tugging at each other’s nose, meaning and performance make fools of us all. Why? Because we take them seriously—or not—upon their word. Who is the real fool: the clown or the person that takes him seriously? What is it about culture that makes us want to be lied to?

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games problematic that started this paragraph: having recognized that

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narrative and performance are alibis for each other, why don’t people ever catch on? Serious game theory begins with the assumption that action and concept are not consistent, and for interesting reasons (not just dysfunctional ones). Under this theory, the performative aspects of culture earlier described by Turner (See Turner 1969, 1975, 1979; and also Singer 195, 1984) can be explored along with their conceptual, semantic counterparts (such as those presented in Lakoff and Johnson (1980) and other explorations into the semantics of metaphor (Ricoeur 1977, Sacks 1977, Lakoff 1987, Lakoff and Turner 1989)). The use of metaphor, particularly in its mythologizing role (again à la Barthes) can be brought into full play in descriptions of serious games. Recent social psychological studies into the motivations for actions and desires, particularly the “flow” studies of Csikszentmihalyi (1975, 1988) and others (e.g. Mitchell 1988, Sato 1988) and Zizek’s political readings of Lacan (1991) provide the initial conception of motivation necessary for a serious game theory. Again, serious game theory presents only the most basic form, just enough to allow these linguistic, ethnographic, and social psychological notions to begin to work in concert. It defines a vocabulary to be used in describing the participation of the individual players, and opens current sociological theory to the actual contingencies of this participation. As a term, “game” seems at first look hardly qualified to encompass the actions, and institutions that it will have to control for serious game theory to be adequate to its own description. These agencies and processes have been previously discussed under a variety of terms: “cultural framework,” “life world,” “religion,” “nation”, “ideology,” etc. Decades of careful fieldwork and study have

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games brought into perspective many events, actions, narratives, and

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meanings that have not heretofore been readily classified as parts of games, or in any fashion necessarily linked to performance. Partially, this failure to to approach performance represents a Post-Reformation critique of the efficacy9 of human action—EuroAmericans live in a world where “play” and “games” have been marginalized in contrast with “work” and other “serious pursuits,” and where embodied and emplaced knowledge gives way to narratives and universal laws. Serious game theory hopes to show how performance can be rediscovered, and that we work at playing serious games every day. In order for serious game theory to succeed, it must provide some advantage over other perspectives on social action. This paper will outline some of these advantages. Some potential objections to serious game theory will also be discussed below. If you are not part of the action, you are part of the context Let us now look closely at the proposed theory of serious games. First, a few more assumptions: As with Geertz (and before him, Talcott Parsons, and before him, Max Weber and Émile Durkheim)—the basic presupposition that empirically observable actions are important in themselves is crucial to the serious game theory. What Bourdieu and Giddens (and others) added to this presupposition is the importance of the agent’s knowledgeability. Like Bourdieu (above), Giddens would revive the knowledgeable agent:
In the work of Lasch, and many others who have produced rather similar cultural diagnoses, one can discern an inadequate account of the human agent. The individual appears essentially passive in relation to 9 The disengagement from the symbolic control of natural processes —from

religious ritual— in favor of the incremental “controls” provided by scientific knowledge is instrumental in the commodification of human action, and in the marginalization of the body.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games
overwhelming external social forces, and a misleading or false view is adopted of the connections between micro-settings of action and more encompassing social influences. An adequate account of action in relation to modernity must accomplish three tasks. It must recognise that (1) on a very general level, human agents never passively accept external conditions of action, but more or less continuously reflect upon them and reconstitute them in the light of their particular circumstances; (2) on a collective as well as an individual plane, above all in conditions of modernity, there are massive areas of collective appropriation consequent on the increased reflexivity of social life; (3) it is not valid to argue that, while the micro-settings of action are malleable, larger social systems form an uncontrolled background environment. (Giddens 1991, 175)

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Knowledgeability and constraints on knowledgeability are central to the theories of Foucault, Goffman, Giddens, and Bourdieu. What game theory adds to this mix is a basic parameter to describe these knowledges and also a notion of observable attitude. The study of human action is thus a study of what people do, what they know about how to do it, and what they think about what they do10. (From now on, the word “action” will be used to mean a behavior with its associated knowledges and attitudes.) It is not enough to view individuals as merely “subjects” or even “actors” in society; they must be “players” if the society is to be performed and the performances to succeed and thus to recreate the impetus for the continuation of the society—of the ruling serious game. To say that serious game theory asserts that a society is a serious game is an oversimplification of the concepts of “society” and of “game,” although this might have once been true in very small, isolated societies. It is more accurate to say that a society (the nation/state) maintains a ruling serious game, which encompasses its
10 Obviously there are behaviors, knowledges, and attitudes that are not public, most properly, there are actions that people do alone. These aren’t many, and often they are done alone for observable reasons. More problematically, there are times when knowledges, or attitudes, or even behaviors (as in esoteric rituals) are masked. People lie about these, or are themselves unaware of them. This means that some actions are more difficult to study than others. One advantage of serious game theory is that it provides some methodological toe-hold (mostly thanks to the work of Erving Goffman) into the process of masking actions.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games forms of legitimation and which contain one or more (and possibly many) major sub-games that define domains of action such as the political and the religious domains. This ruling serious game is

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inherently serious for two main reasons: first because of the overlap between the survival needs of the various players and the objects required for the game (e.g., food, shelter, weapons, medicines, social approval, ego recognition, etc.); and second, because it enforces its rules with lethal (or near lethal) means (execution, excommunication, life imprisonment, etc.). Actions and Narratives Publicly observable actions have two general aspects: one, a performative aspect that shows up in events; and the other, a conceptual aspect, which gets written down or taped, or, in oral cultures, gets remembered. A telling of a story or a reading of a text forms the boundary between these two aspects. This is a “fuzzy” boundary and it is not all that apparent exactly where concept meets performance11. The material requirements for performance—those artistic (visual, audio, kinesthetic, sculptural, etc.), spatial and architectural, sartorial, tonsorial, gustatory, olfactory, pharmaceutical,
11Wittgenstein’s musings on “games” and on the fuzzy boundaries between action and concept which games display, are much to the point here. I would like to introduce the notion of “virtuosity,” as a useful way of describing the zone between concept (knowledge) and its performance. The advantage of this term is that it carries meanings of embodied knowledge and the performative display of this. As Wittgenstein noted about virtuosity (actually about “expert judgements”) is that it is not governable by a system of rules: “What one acquires [as one becomes a virtuoso] .. is not a technique; one learns correct judgements. There are also rules, but they do not form a system, and only experienced people can apply them right. Unlike calculating-rules” (1958, 227). Virtuosity disambiguates the two main semantic fields of the term “experience”: the knowledgeable aspect (as in “She is an experienced artist”) and the performative aspect (as in “the experience of a concert.”) The virtuoso is a repository of knowledge/performance.

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and temporal ingredients of the event—are part of the performance aspect, are its context, and yet these also contribute to the conceptual aspect as they engender theories, myths, histories, etc. While the playing of any game takes on a narrative-like aspect (a beginning, then some determinate activity, then some closure or failure to close), and while narrative accounts of games are a part of the history and thus of the available knowledge about games, it is important not to confuse the playing of the game with either the act of writing a narrative description of a game or of reading one. Narrative accounts of serious games can tell us much about these, however, they cannot12 convey that part of the action which is known and played non-discursively, that part which responds and creates the habitus of the game. As Bourdieu notes, the habitus is written into the body of the player:
...The habitus as the feel for the game is the social game embodied and turned into a second nature. Nothing is simultaneously freer and more constrained than the action of the good player. He quite naturally materializes at just the place the ball is about to fall, as if the ball were in command of him but by that very fact, he is in command of the ball. The habitus, as society written into the body, into the biological individual, enables the infinite number of acts of the game written into the game as possibilities and objective demands to be produced; the constraints and demands of the game, although they are not restricted to a code of rules, impose themselves on those people and those people alone who, because they have a feel for the game, a feel, that is, for the immanent necessity of the game, are prepared to perceive them and carry them out. (1990, 63)

A theory of social action cannot rely simply on a narrative account of the game as it was or is played, but rather on an examination of the habitus which creates the player, and of the role of the player as an agent in the creation of habitus. White (1987) conflated social actions (the playing of serious games) with “lived
12 More precisely, they have not, to date. The role of the “new ethnography” is to explore ways in which non-discursive knowledge can be discursively described. Serious game theory will be of certain value here.

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narrativizations.” Serious games are certainly lived, but they are only after the fact rendered as narratives. The confusion of action with narrative is a hope, often held by historians or literary theorists; the hope that the story of the game can substitute for the game as an object of study. This hope is also expressed by those who wish to describe the nation in terms of its narrativity. The late A. Bartlett Giamatti (president of Yale University turned commissioner of baseball) used baseball as a trope in the national story, :
Baseball is part of America’s plot, part of America’s mysterious, underlying design—the part in which we all conspire and collude, the plot of the story of our national life. Our national plot is to be free enough to consent to an order that will enhance and compound—as it constrains—our freedom. That is our grounding, our national story, the tale America tells the world... By repeating again the outline of the American Story, and by placing baseball within it, we engage the principle of narrative. (1989, 83-84).

Giamatti goes on to remark on the telling of baseball stories, at “baseball’s second-favorite venue,” the hotel lobby. It is in the telling of these stories that baseball is transformed into myth. It is in the move from performance to narrative that the game acquires its time of “forgetting to remember.” Narrativity is implicated in the imagination of the game (and of the nation). The deconstruction of narrativity is a counter-move, a remembering-not-to-forget: that is also its limit. As Hayden White (1987) noted, the move from game playing to narrativity does happen in many places. Their stories of their games and our stories of their games (most ethnographies to date) are thus deemed commensurable. However, this commensurability takes place at an innocent, infantile level of practice; it is the sitting around the campfire, listening to the Wanga-Wanga spin their culture type of anthropology. No matter how much deconstructive virtuosity one can level on these texts, they will never reveal what they were never

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meant to conceal in the first place: the habitus of the game... which is always concealed elsewhere. Again, let me return to Bourdieu:
But it is not enough to reject the juridical ideology (what the Anglo-Saxons call the legalism) that comes so naturally to anthropologists, always ready to listen to those dispensers of lessons and rules that informants are when they talk to the ethnologist, that is to someone who knows nothing and to whom they have to talk as if they were talking to a child. In order to construct a model of the game which will not be the mere recording of explicit norms nor a statement of regularities, while synthesizing both norms and regularities, one has to reflect on the different modes of existence of the principles of regulation and regularity of different forms of practice: there is, of course, the habitus, that regulated disposition to generate regulated and regular behaviour outside any reference to rules; and, in societies where the work of codification is not very advanced, the habitus is the principle of most modes of practice. (1990, 65)

If discursive rules were all that pushed agents into actions, and all that constrained these actions into coherent system-like patterns, then the lessons of narratives would suffice as anthropology. The need to go beyond this type of data in order to determine how the agent knows “how to go on” (cf. Giddens, 1979, 67; also Wittgenstein 1958) is a need that serious game theory will attempt to fulfill. And so, let me move on to the details of this theory. While this part of the paper takes us seemingly far away from the nation-state, it will all be useful in re-imagining the nation and its ruling serious game not too far down this narrative path. [A foretaste of a problematic to be addressed by this theory: The ruling serious game has few players and many more pawns—the question is not why the pawns play this game, but why they are satisfied by it... why don’t they (we) demand or create a better game?] Encounters of the gaming kind In order to further explore the concepts of attitude and motivation, we must first expand the description of what a serious game is, and how this is “played.” The notion of a serious game as it will be developed below owes much to Erving Goffman’s work on

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games events that he calls “encounters.” Goffman’s definition of an encounter begins with a general statement of potential event sequences:
Encounters. I limit myself to one type of social arrangement that occurs when persons are in one another’s immediate physical presence, to be called here an encounter or a focused gathering. For the participants, this involves: a single visual and cognitive focus of attention; a mutual and preferential openness to verbal communication; a heightened mutual relevance of acts; an eye-to-eye ecological huddle that maximizes each participant’s opportunity to perceive the other participants’ monitoring of him. Given these communication arrangements, their presence tends to be acknowledged or ratified through expressive signs, and a “we rationale” is likely to emerge, that is, a sense of the single act that we are doing together at the time. Ceremonies of entrance and departure are also likely to be employed, as are signs acknowledging the initiation and termination of the encounter or focused gathering as a unit. Whether bracketed by ritual or not, encounters provide the communication base for a circular flow of feeling among participants as well as corrective compensation for deviant acts. Examples of focused gatherings are: a tête-à-tête; a jury deliberation; a game of cards; a couple dancing; a task jointly pursued by persons physically close to one another; love-making; boxing. (Goffman 1961, 17-18, emphasis in the original)

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What is important here, rather than a specific list of actions, is the notion that the encounter creates a boundary, allows participants to enter this voluntarily, and then facilitates both communication and ex-communication. What is this boundary condition? How does it work? To illustrate, he chooses a small, well-defined example, that of the game of checkers:
Here, games can serve as a starting point. They clearly illustrate how participants are willing to forswear for the duration of the play any apparent interest in the esthetic, sentimental, or monetary value of the equipment employed, adhering to what might be called rules of irrelevance. For example, it appears that whether checkers are played with bottle tops on a piece of squared linoleum, with gold figurines on inlaid marble, or with uniformed men standing on colored flagstones in a specially arranged court square, the pairs of players can start with the “same” positions, employ the same sequence of strategic moves and countermoves, and generate the same contour of excitement. ...Another example of this is seen in “wall games,” wherein school children, convicts, prisoners of war, or mental patients are ready to redefine an imprisoning wall as a part of the board that the game is played on, a board constituted of special rules of play, not bricks and mortar.(ibid, 19-20)

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games The boundary condition then is a function of these “rules of

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irrelevance,” which determine for the duration of the encounter what is and shall be taken as serious or trivial. In order to maintain these rules for the duration, the encounter must localize all the ingredients necessary for its own completion. The encounter provides the rules and the materials requisite for the expected outcomes of its actions. These rules and materials Goffman terms “realized resources” (ibid, 28). (I sometimes call these “technologies of experience.”) There is thus an economy involved, a marshalling of resources13, and a political force to regulate this economy, and a judicial authority to resolve disputes. Knowing that encounters define and determine attitudes does not explain why or how its participants allow their attitudes to be so determined. Why do people enter into these events in the first place? What is gained? What is the motivation? Goffman, perhaps reluctantly, posits a type of euphoria. He promotes the notion that these encounters are internally motivated and thus self replicating. At the same time, he adds that this sense of euphoria is dependent upon the reduction of “tension” in the encounter, similar to what Gadamer sees in his notion of “play:” “Like art, play comes to rest in itself, the sheer transformation of energy into a structure that ‘absorbs the player into itself, and thus takes from him the burden of the initiative, which constitutes the actual strain of existence’”(Gadamer 1985, 94; reported in States 1988, 126-7). This reduction of tension, of the
13 There are two basic strategies to ensure that all the needed resources are available within the encounter’s boundaries: the first is to provide a strict definition of what is needed. This is the rule governing strategy. With this, unavailable resources are a priorily ruled out of the encounter, and become trivialized. The second strategy is to expand the boundary and allow for new resources and thus new rules. This is the rule creating strategy. The former is conservative, and the later reactionary or progressive.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games burden of the strain of existence, requires the “spontaneous involvement” of the participants:
...Focused gatherings...have unique and significant properties which a formalistic game-theoretical view of interaction tends to overlook. The most crucial of these properties, it seems to me, is the organistic psychobiological nature of spontaneous involvement.(Goffman 1961, 38 emphasis mine) When an individual becomes engrossed in an activity, whether shared or not, it is possible for him to become caught up by it, carried away by it, engrossed in it—to be, as we say, spontaneously involved in it. He finds it psychologically unnecessary to dwell on anything else...(ibid, 37) ...tension refers...to a sensed discrepancy between the world that spontaneously becomes real to the individual, or the one he is able to accept as the current reality, and the one in which he is obliged to dwell. This concept of tension is crucial to my argument, for I will try to show that just as the coherence and persistence of a focused gathering depends on maintaining a boundary, so the integrity of this barrier seems to depend upon the management of tension.(ibid, 43)

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Spontaneous involvement is de facto voluntary, since it depends upon the participant’s willingness to enter into the encounter as though it were entirely autotelically motivated, to become engrossed in it—rather like a “player” gets engrossed in a “game.” Once this threshold of involvement is met there is then the further possibility of a reduction of “tension.” The reduction of tension is, however, not merely a negatively defined experience, but one that Goffman, like Gadamer, finds to be irresistibly attractive for the participant14.
14 Goffman puts it this way: “We come now to a crucial consideration. The world made up of objects of our spontaneous involvement and the world carved out by the encounter’s transformation rules can be congruent, one coinciding perfectly with the other. In such circumstances, what the individual is obliged to attend to, and the way in which he is obliged to perceive what is around him, will coincide with what can and what does become real to him through the natural inclination of his spontaneous attention. Where this kind of agreement exists I assume—as an empirical hypothesis—that the participants will feel at ease or natural, in short, that the interaction will be euphoric for them. But it is conceivable that the participant’s two possible worlds...may not coincide... I make a second empirical assumption, that a person who finds himself in this situation will feel uneasy, bored, or unnatural in the situation, experiencing this to the degree that he feels committed to maintaining the transformation rules.

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The game “succeeds” only as long as it can reduce the tension between the world it creates and other possible worlds. Success is predicated first upon the spontaneous involvement of the players. Without this, the encounter is preempted:
Why should the factor of spontaneous involvement carry so much weight in the organization of encounters? Some suggestions can be made. A participant’s spontaneous involvement in the official focus of attention of an encounter tells others what he is and what his intentions are, adding to the security of the others in his presence. Further, shared spontaneous involvement in a mutual activity often brings the sharers into some kind of exclusive solidarity and permits them to express relatedness, psychic closeness, and mutual respect; failure to participate with good heart can therefore express rejection of those present or of the setting. Finally, spontaneous involvement in the prescribed focus of attention confirms the reality of the world prescribed by the transformation rules 15 and the unreality of other potential worlds—and it is upon these confirmations that the stability of immediate definitions of the situation depends.(Goffman 1961, 40)

A game is tested every time it is played. For the game not to fail, it must create an imagined “world” (a community and its technologies of experience), a world that is uniquely right and real for its players for the duration of its play. This is as true for serious games as it is for recreational and children’s games. In recreational games, for example, the play normally reaches a point where the internal risk of the game ends (when a predetermined score is met, a goal is achieved, a time limit is accomplished) or else the game is prematurely terminated when one or more players become weary or bored (See also Peckham, 77). Either end brings back the tension of other possible worlds, of other games and factors, such as the external
15 Goffman proposes that the boundary of the encounter does not actually shut off all outside contexts, but rather permits selected aspects of outside worlds to penetrate after these have been altered through “transformation rules” into game roles and game pieces. “the barrier to externally realized properties was more like a screen than like a solid wall, and we then came to see that the screen not only selects but also transforms and modifies what is passed through it. Speaking more strictly, we can think of inhibitory rules that tell participants that they must not attend to and of facilitating rules that tell them what they may recognize.” (ibid, 33)

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motivations that were suppressed during the play of the game. The goalie returns to being your boss, and the other halfback your assistant. When a game ends, the arbitrariness of the rules and roles determined by the game’s transformation rules becomes evident and spontaneous involvement fails. Alternately, when these roles and rules are seen as arbitrary, spontaneous involvement fails and the game ends. Spontaneous involvement is predicated upon the attitude of the player toward the motivation of the game. The player must voluntarily enter into the game if his involvement is to achieve this spontaneous quality. External influences need to be filtered and transformed in such a way that the player becomes engrossed in the play of the game for its expected duration, otherwise the game has failed. Motivation Motivation, as this applies to serious game theory, has one primary distinguishing feature. It is either autotelic to the action, or exotelic to it. A theory of autotelic and exotelic motivation has been developed following the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi at the University of Chicago (See: Csikszentmihalyi 1975, 1988). Csikszentmihalyi’s theory makes a distinction between motivations using the location of the motivation vis à vis the action that results from the motivation. Autotelic actions are thus internally motivated (and perceived as such by their participants), and, as we shall see, voluntarily entered into. This theory dissolves the dichotomy between play and work found in traditional theories of play such as those found in Huizinga (1949) and Caillois (1958) and well summarized in Giddens (1964). These latter theories held only that play, e.g. any “game,” as

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opposed to work, was a completely bounded experience, the risks of which had no effect outside the boundary of the game. What Csikszentmihalyi (1975) argues is that play is simply any activity that is internally motivated (hence autotelic). This means that work (labor) can also be play to the extent that it provides internal motivation16. The notion of play can thus be applied to a broad array of actions, and, in fact, to action in general, for any action can be either autotelic (i.e. play) or exotelic (what should we call this?), according to the involvement of the individual, that is, to his perception of the source of the motivation for the action. Exotelic actions receive their motivation from without, that is, from goals or sanctions external to the action. The organization of the factory requires knowledges that are external to the worker, and thus her motivation is not informed as to the real purpose of her labor. The factory cannot rely upon her motivation (nor her knowledgeability) and so it relies on the regulation of her actions. The worker/agent/player is reduced to the laborer/functional-unit/pawn:

16

What Gorz (1990)—of course after Marx—notes is that factory labor so

alienates the worker from the results of labor that it cannot be knowledgeably accepted by the worker as autotelic. “The important thing here is that the inert materiality of the machinery (or the organization which imitates it) affords past poiesis (dead labour or the organization) a lasting hold over the workers who, in putting it to use, are forced to serve it. The greater the amount of fixed capital (that is, of dead labour and dead knowledge) per work station, the more unyielding this hold. ...‘dead labour’, ‘mind objectified’, comes between the worker and the product and prevents work being lived as poiesis, as the sovereign action of Man on matter” (Gorz 1990, 52). This, however, does not prevent an attempt by management to “sell” labor as play. The worker must remember to forget his alienation for the poiesis of work-that-is-play, and to regard “dead labor” as play. To the limit that work is not play, the worker sacrifices his life to “dead labor.” The fiction of the nobility of work obscures this sacrifice.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games
As it becomes more complex, the organization of specialized functions, for the purpose of accomplishing a task which exceeds the comprehension of any individual, is increasingly unable to rely on the agents’ own motivations for accomplishing this task. Their favourable disposition, personal capacities and goodwill are not enough. Their reliability will only be ensured by the formal codification and regulation of their conduct, their duties and their relationships. I term functional any conduct which is rationally programmed to attain results beyond the agents’ comprehension, irrespective of their intentions. Functionality is a type of rationality which comes from the outside to the conduct determined and specified for the agent by the organization in which she or he is subsumed. This conduct is the function which the agent has to perform unquestioningly. The more it grows, the more the organization tends to function like a machine. (Gorz 1989, 32)

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Gorz’s explication of the term “functionality” (to describe exotelic actions and organizations) represent a limit both for serious game theory and for functionalist notions of society. Serious game theory is centrally concerned with the autotelic actions of “players”. Functionality describes the exotelic regulation of the actions of “pawns”. Functionalist social theory (despite its universalist pretensions) finds its limit in the description of functionality. Within serious game theory, notions of functionality are useful mainly because of the presence of pawns within games. Serious game theory also allows for a further description of autotelic (e.g., embodied) action. How the Game is Played Autotelically motivated actions require certain ingredients or conditions. Internal motivations (and knowledges) can be as diverse as the actions that spawn them, what they have in common is the fact that they are autotelic to the action. Only certain varieties of actions create internal motivations: i.e., there are formal constraints on games, constraints which the theory of serious games will describe: “Common to all these forms of autotelic involvement is a matching of personal skills against a range of physical or symbolic opportunities for action that represent meaningful challenges to the individual” (Csikszentmihalyi 1988, 181). And so, performance provides a differential potential for autotelic motivation depending on the

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opportunities for “meaningful challenges” to the participant, and also depending on how the provided challenges match up with the participant’s skills and expectations. Because of this differential, an action, say participation in a collective ceremony, may be autotelic for one individual and exotelic for his neighbor. Autotelic motivation creates a particular form of experience. This experience Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow,” a term derived from a common element found in many descriptions of it17. According to him, highly autotelic actions tend to reduce the participant’s awareness of time and of self. Similarly, the above “encounters” described by Erving Goffman create the “selective inattention” of concepts such as time and self:
A visual and cognitive engrossment occurs, with an honest unawareness of matters other than the activity; what Harry Stack Sullivan called ‘selective inattention’ occurs, with an effortless dissociation from all other events, distinguishing this type of unawareness both from suppression and repression. (Goffman 1961, 38; after Sullivan)

With all this selective inattention, one might be led to suspect that autotelic actions were confused, random behaviors. Quite the contrary. These actions involve intense attention to a perceived set of well defined concepts, rules, and behaviors. Activities such as rock climbing and performing surgery—both of which have been described as providing deep flow experiences—require intense attention to immediate circumstances (Csikszentmihalyi 1975).
17According to Csikszentmihalyi, the greater the perceived risk, the wider the symbolic arena of activity—up to the point where the individual feels preempted from entering the activity because her personal skills cannot possibly meet the challenges involved—the more profound the flow experience will be. Furthermore, flow is apparently not entirely a quantitatively measurable experience: one experience of an extremely “deep” flow nature is thus not equitable to several “shallow” flow experiences. Deep flow, once experienced, is apparently extremely psychologically addictive (1975, 138). He also adds that flow experiences organize experience in evolutionarily important ways (1988, 15-35).

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Many actions seem to be paradoxically autotelic and exotelic. The paradox is real, for there is always a friction between these types of motivation. For example, actions that are motivated by coercion (and are by that exotelic) sometimes also offer the structures of activity that create the potential for autotelic involvement. [The actual structure of such an action is that of a sub-game (autotelically motivated) within a larger game, where the individual is coerced by the larger game into the performance of the sub-game. More about this later.] The explanation is a psychological one. The individual actually forgets (remembers to forget—the game is there to remind him to remember to forget) the original coercion in favor of participation in the event for the event’s own sake—just as though his participation were originally autotelically motivated. Involuntariness gives way to voluntary participation18. The notion of voluntariness is itself problematized, since both a positive goal direction and a negative punishment can be seen as forms of coercion. This describes a primary effect of institutions that provide autotelic experiences for ideological ends: these experiences mask other, exotelic factors. A horrorific and extreme example of this comes from a study of prisoners (and from his own experiences) in Nazi concentration camps by Bruno Bettelheim. Bettelheim (1960) writes that the result of the involvement of the prisoner in the event of his own imprisonment and
18 Weeden describes this process in terms of the formation of the engendered

subject: “The crucial point for the moment is that in taking on a subject position, the individual assumes that she is the author of the ideology or discourse she is speaking. She speaks or thinks as if she were in control of meaning. She ‘imagines’ that she is indeed the type of subject which humanism proposes—rational, unified, the source rather than the effect of language. It is the imaginary quality of the individual’s identification with a subject position which gives it so much psychological and emotional force” (1987, 31)

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games torture, was “a personality structure willing and able to accept SS

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values and behavior as its own.” (169 [reported in Giddens19, 126]). What I call “risky games,” (See: below) are another example of the psychological force of flow experiences. Such games are voluntary from the start but they engender inherently serious risks to the participants. From sadomasochism to sky diving, people put themselves into potentially lethal contexts to create a deep experience of flow. Flow creating actions commonly include sequences of events that: a) engender immediate challenges (risks); b) demand a level of mental and/or physical participation; and c) reward this participation with a corresponding level of flow. Thus the effort to meet the challenges20 provided by the flow event is matched with an immediate sense of pleasure/satisfaction. Such actions are performed and

19

Giddens (1979) discusses how this engrossment works in the behavior of a

mob, as an example of what he terms “critical situations.” Such situations are distinguishable as radical disturbances of the “day-to-day life in routine settings” (123). Following Freud, he points out that these situations trigger a regressive reidentification with the event (and particularly with leaders in the event). This regressive form of “object-affiliation” is highly ambivalent, however, as it can rapidly swing from a positive (and serious) identification to negative (still serious) rejection (127). Today’s Great Leader is tomorrow’s sacrificial lamb. He then notes that this scenario is true not only for concentration camps and mobs, but for the “psychological dynamics of social movements...” (ibid, emphasis in the original.) Critical situations are thus not extraordinary in their organization, but simply more pronounced in the contrasts of selective inattention they promote. 20The greater the perceived risk, the wider the symbolic arena of activity—up to the point where the individual feels preempted from entering the activity because her personal skills cannot possibly meet the challenges involved—the more profound the flow experience will be. Furthermore, flow is apparently not entirely a quantitatively measurable experience: one experience of an extremely “deep” flow nature is thus not equitable to several “shallow” flow experiences. Deep flow, once experienced, is apparently extremely psychologically addictive (Csikszentmihalyi 1975, 138).

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repeated in order to achieve and renew this experience. Participation is its own reward, and performance is the requirement. Attitude That such actions always prescribe what must be paid attention to, and what must not be paid attention to brings us to the role of attitude in serious game theory, and a major contribution that this theory makes in articulating the processes of ideology. Attitude, as this is mapped into the serious game theory, also makes one central distinction: that of an attitude of seriousness, characterized by careful attention, and that of triviality, characterized by careful inattention or denial. Attention is itself a combination of attraction and avoidance; that is, attention can be defined positively or negatively21. Sanctions against a behavior or object create attention to its avoidance. Sanctions are never explicitly applied to what is trivial. As it is not taken seriously, the trivial cannot be acclaimed as a threat. We will see, however, that failure to follow any of the games rules— even by overt attention to triviality—can result in expulsion from the game—but perhaps in a different manner than an expulsion because of transgression of an announced sanction. It is perhaps the difference between insanity and criminality, between the asylum and the prison, which is a fine difference at that. Attention to the trivial is seen as an aberrance, rather than a transgression. A scheme of attitudes

21

Like the world of the trivial, the world of the negative-but-serious was long left

out of functional descriptions of cultures perhaps because of the notion that the negative-but-serious aspects were actually parts of the individual’s psyche, rather than fully part of public (sometimes less obviously so) actions. This refusal of anthropology to admit psychology now seems quite arbitrary and short-sighted.

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“ideologies” here) demand that we pay attention to what is serious (S1), and that we treat as serious what we are told to pay attention to (S2) (note that these are not the same demands). Money and patriotism are good examples. Money is serious, and as such it demands our attention (S1). We are also told to be patriotic (S2)—to pay attention, and to take patriotism seriously: no irony is allowed among true patriots. Conversely, games demand that we do not pay attention to what is trivial (T1), and that we treat as trivial what we are told not to pay attention to (T2) (these are also two quite distinct demands). The game is stabilized because it offers a maximal flow experience for those players who voluntarily follow its demands, who become engrossed in the game and lose whatever external perspective that might deflect their correct attitude. Given the basic demands of the game there are four main attitudinal stances a participant might have toward the serious aspects of a game: they can be pakka players, those who follow all the rules (+S1,+S2); dilettantes, who play the game, but not “seriously” (+S1,S2); dissidents, who play the game against itself (-S1,+S2); and the avant garde, who deny the game, but still play by its rules (-S1,-S2)22. There are also four more stances, based upon the attitudes toward the trivial aspects of the games demands: (+T1,+T2; -T1,+T2; +T1,-T2; -T1,22 These fit rather well into Calinescu’s discussion of modernism. The pakka players are the modernists, convinced that they control the future; the dilettantes are into decadence (an attitude that requires the absence of attention to the boundaries between the serious and the trivial); the dissidents are doing kitch and camp (turning the trivial into the serious and vice versa); and the avant garde is out there pretending to lead the course of social change, while playing the same game as the modernists. Of course, the post modernists are opting out of the game altogether, a stance that looks from various perspectives as any one of the three non-pakka stances.

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T2). These, we might call respectively the trivial stances of the pakka player, the skeptic, the deviant, and the clown. Because they take place in the realm of the trivial, these stances have escaped much notice and differentiation. For example, studies of culture have generally not probed the areas of denial that the culture demands. These are the various marginal positions heretofore relegated to footnoted descriptions of deviance and farce. The potential for the world of the trivial—the locus of resistance to the serious game—to affect the world of the serious has not been sufficiently explored. Serious game theory brings this dynamic to the fore (and it will be further explored below). When combined with the first four attitudinal stances, attitudes toward the trivial describe a fairly complex range of possible attitudes toward any aspect of any possible game. There are thus sixteen basic stances that an individual might have toward a whole game. It should be noted that to be a “player” in the pakka sense is only one23 of these sixteen. This attitude, which I call an attitude of “orthoposture” is also a factor in the successful completion of the current game encounter, and in the player’s ability to enter future similar encounters. The orthopostural attitude is that of spontaneous involvement directed as what is serious for the game, and an equal neglect of what is trivial within the game. The central task of ideology is to guarantee the orthopostural attitude of all its players. Players, Pawns, and Strangers

23All other psychological stances are dangerous to the completion of current game event, or to conservation of the current game rules. The most dangerous player of all is the “avant garde clown.” (These are also the players most likely to be fitted for straight jackets.)

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A player, as Goffman uses the term does not include everyone physically within the game space (1961, 36). There is another, more general level of participation open to individuals, that of participant. A player is a participant who is empowered by the rules of the game to make plays. (A play is any action that effects the state of the game.) In the game of chess there are two players who make plays using pieces on a board. In order to be empowered as a player, a participant must be chosen to fill a required game role, and must enter this role with that attitude of voluntary and spontaneous involvement that was described above. Because of this, an individual can be a player in only one game at any time. This is quite important, since (as will be presented below) some games have hierarchical levels of sub-games. A player in a subgame is never simultaneously a player in the larger game. There are two types of non-player individuals who might also be within the localized game space, and which I will term the pawn and the stranger. A pawn, as the term suggests, is really nothing more than a participant that fills the role of a piece of equipment—a part of the context—in the play of the game. If this brings to mind regal levantine chess games where servants are dressed as pieces and ordered about on a courtyard-sized board, then the notion has been correctly understood. A stranger is someone who is not involved in the play of the game, but who finds or puts himself within the physical context of the game. As a rule, strangers bring dangers, as they tend to distract players by their unaware, inappropriate behavior or by suggestions for alternate games. Since their role is to create the action of the game, players are vitally important for the success of the game. A game fails mainly when its players lose their spontaneous involvement in its play.

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Certainly, problems with the context of the action, including mistakes by pawns and distractions of strangers can contribute to a “disengrossment” of the players and the premature end of the current game event. In the end it is still the role of the players to determine whether the game will continue to its normative closure. Even the premature death of players, while this might end the current event, would not prevent the next occurrence of the game from selecting a new set of players. It should also be noted that only the players experience the euphoria/flow of the game. A corollary to this is that players in subgames experience a lower level of flow than players in the main game24. One possible outcome of this corollary is that players in lowerlevel games (who are thus pawns in the higher level games) should be susceptible to invitations of other, higher-level games that offer deeper flow opportunities. An example of this is perhaps the lure of the drug “culture,” or the inducements of religions that promise more attractive afterlives. Pawns require no prescribed attitudinal involvement (they provide docile bodies that serve a functional role), and can be pawns at different games at the same time. In fact, a player at a sub-game is simultaneously at most a pawn in the larger game. For example, the ticket-holding audience of a sporting event are pawns in that they are allowed into the context of the event only when they agree to a nonplayer role. They are not necessarily strangers, however, because they agree to follow certain rule-governed behaviors, but they are also not players since they are not empowered to make plays25. As long as
24 For example, players in an “audience game” experience a lower level of flow than do players in the game being viewed. 25 An audience might (and perhaps usually do) constitute a sub-game of the main game. As such, individual members of the audience are players in this game, and

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pawns can be made to follow the directions of the players, by coercion if not reward, then they are adequate to their role. Strangers are essentially non-participants, with no role to fill, although they may be potential participants in later game activities. A pawn that abandons his role and is replaced might become a stranger. Other strangers may actually be players or pawns in other games, the boundaries of which are intruding into the context of this game. They may, therefore, not be innocent strangers, but instead, agents of a foreign game. The anthropologist filming a Trobriand Island rite of passage is a stranger not to be ignored. Games and social control The notion of games with sub-games has interesting extensions in the ideological characterization of societies. However, a few preliminary observations are all that can be included in the space of this paper: Players will prefer to play at higher levels, because the potential for flow is higher there, yet it seems that games prefer to limit the number of players as a strategy to maximize the realizable resources-per-player, and to reduce indeterminacy in the play of the game. Remembering that players in a sub-game are at most pawns in the higher-level game, the higher level games might appear to have a small number of players and many pawns. Higher level games tend to restrict access to themselves, and to promote, instead, varieties of long-duration sub-games. Since any game can potentially engross its players’ attention, these sub-games are potentially effective in distracting the attention of pawns who might otherwise disrupt the higher-level game.

yet still only pawns in the main game. In this sub game, ushers may be pawns and first-time viewers may still be strangers.

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Externally, this brings up the observation that most of the people are sacrificing potentially deeper flow experiences in favor of long-term lower level flow games. Radical changes in game states might succeed by offering higher levels of flow to more participants. But the dynamic within the stable periods of a ruling game is for that game to optimize the flow experiences and the realizable resources for its players, while promoting other, sub-games to keep its pawns in line. This dynamic between levels of games provides a perspective on various aspects of ideological social control. The active presence of levels of games (always in the plural), informs the creation of game places. In Foucault’s notion of the “panopticon” the place of the prisoner (metonymic for the citizen) exhibits the visible/invisible boundaries that separate the larger game from its sub-game:
...power should be visible and unverifiable. Visible: the inmate will constantly have before his eyes the tall outline of the central tower from which he is spied upon. Unverifiable: the inmate must never know whether he is being looked at at any one moment; but he must be sure that he may always be so. In order to make the presence or absence of the inspector unverifiable, so that the prisoners, in their cells, cannot even see a shadow, Bentham envisaged not only venetian blinds on the windows of the central observation hall, but, on the inside, partitions that intersected the hall at right angles and, in order to pass from one quarter to the other, not doors but zigzag openings; for the slightest noise, a gleam of light, a brightness in a halfopened door would betray the presence of the guardian. (201)

The effects of this imbalance of knowledge (and power) while seemingly total and unrelenting, are also liable to resistance, as long as there are places where such resistance can be discursively organized—as long as the panopticon has its own blind spots. The first step in resistance is always a will to knowledge, not the knowledge of the guardian’s presence, but of his desires and his game. Nation/states support state nationalism as a sub-game, the larger game remains hidden beyond the ken of prisoner/citizen. Ken and the rim of an activity

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Nation spaces and sacred spaces (hierogenous zones) are places a part (call it a one rim) of which is placed necessarily beyond the ken26 of the pawn. These places share an essential structural feature with confidence games and practical jokes: they frame (to use Goffman’s term) activities that are fabricated in such a fashion as to limit the ken of the person subjected to (thus the subject of) the joke, or the con, or the nation, or the sacred. This means that the actual boundary of the game—a perspective of which is normally assumed to be included within the subject’s ken—is in this case controlled so as to be beyond the subject’s ken. Such activities can succeed only by hiding both certain contents of knowledge (thereby suppressing doubt in the subject), and by hiding the fact that there is actually a broader frame to the activity (thereby suppressing suspicion)27. A sub-game then is a fabrication of the larger game in which the players of the sub-game are led to believe that they are players in the larger game. Nationalism is used by members of an interest group to promote a broad “imagined community” (Anderson 1983) that would support the social/economic advantages of the interest group.
26Goffman’s use of “ken” implies several related meanings: “1. Perception, understanding. 2.a. Range of vision. b. view, sight.” The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 1970. In its spatial role, ken more directly refers to a range of vision available to a subject of an activity. 27 The minor suppression of doubt and suspicion is more or less implicated in the maintenance of places generally, simply as an entrance requirement of the activity that sustains the place. The “mystique” or reputation of any place is liable to doubt and suspicion. The suppression of doubt and suspicion are, however, central activities for those places that purport to be national (or hierogenous). The national place succeeds through a necessary deception. This is accomplished not only through the alibi of myth, but also through the confidence of rituals which mask their own arbitrariness through overcoding. Apart from myth and ritual, there are also other economies involved which help control attitudes and desires.

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Nationalism may thus be described as a serious game (in the form of the nation/state it is the ruling serious game) played by key members of an interest group. This game includes a wider population of pawns (members of the imagined community) who identify themselves as members of this imagined community. The pawns are provided with a sub-game which creates an autotelic motivation for its own continuation: the pawns in the larger game are players in this subgame, but they are told that this is “the only game in town,” so to speak. The existence of the larger game is kept a secret, together with the means to join into the interest group cadre (the players in the larger game) which enjoys the autotelic (and social/economic) rewards for their voluntary participation in the larger game. Obviously, national or sacred games and con games have features that allow us to distinguish between these activities. However, one shared feature of these fabricated experiences that they are normally passed off as unfabricated. The true panoptic mechanisms are both pervasive and invisible—the subject28 is her own guardian. But as pawn, she is never the player, for the guardian is himself a pawn, a function of the machinery. It is in the remembering to forget that subjugation to the nation is made voluntary, and that patriotism is substituted for humanity.
28 To endure, fabricated experience must avoid the penetrating gaze of the subject—and now the reflective gaze of the social scientist. What Foucault (and Wittgenstein, and Bourdieu, and Goffman, etc.) tell us is that all experience is fabricated. It is not some reality that is beyond our reach, but rather the rim of our own experience that escapes us, and is then naturalized as “what qualifies as reality”. If we are to acquire a ken that no longer admits fabricated experience (if we are to realize this most modern of mental states, and here Habermas is quite on the mark), we might also wish to determine whether it is possible to simulate/stimulate engrossment in activities within an aware and reflexive discourse. Otherwise we will have succeeded only in removing the body entirely from the structuration of social experience.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games In examining the construction and maintenance of a national place, we might ask the question: “How is suspicion suppressed?”

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Why is this place deemed authentic, and another one a fake? What is important is to figure out how communities determine “real” national places from “fake” ones. To understand the circumstances under which we think things are real, we should look also to those circumstances which are deemed unreal. This type of hetero-postural attitude is quite unacceptable for the game. In order to ask these questions we must accept the role of the stranger, of the player of a foreign game. And we must accept our part in the disruption of the ruling serious game. But before we even ask how they succeed in suppressing suspicion, we must ask “Who are the players?” The role of the player The actions of players determine the play of the game, and this determines whether the game will achieve its normative duration and whether or not it will be played subsequently. The game is thus highly dependent on the performances of its players (as it is on the functioning of its pawns but for other reasons). These performances are in turn dependent on levels of skills and knowledge—on the ability to approach the challenges of the game without becoming bored or discouraged. All games, but most particularly serious games, restrict the role of “playership” to individuals who have possess certain predesignated qualifications29 (Goffman 1961, 31).
29 While the player might lose his sense of self during the play, his extra-game identity is a factor in his being chosen to enter this state. In this, the game both reinforces and abolishes social identity. This accounts, in some part, for the notion of “communitas” (Turner 1969) found in many games, such as Ndembu festivals. The contrast between status/role relationships in one game, and those of another, may be extreme to the point of an actual reversal of roles and status. According to serious game theory, the optimal flow experience would require that the participants selectively un-attend to external roles. However, on a non-conscious and most

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In order to locate the actual players of the game, one might start by asking: “Who’s having the most fun here?” Unfortunately, it is not that simple. As Gorz notes, economic reason has colonized the life world to such an extent that nobody’s having much fun these days. Instead, one might ask, “Who’s getting rich here?” There is a certain correlation between wealth and the level of serious game at which one can/is playing (cf. Bourdieu 1984). But wealth is a clumsy signal here —better indicators are found in the notions of “risk” and “desire”. Who is risking what, and how are desires created and sated... these questions lead to the serious game player. From games we play to games that play us What do we know so far about serious game theory? 1.) Players enter the game through a voluntary, spontaneous involvement. 2.) With an orthopostural attitude players are able to accept the foci of attention and inattention that the game’s transformation rules require. So they take as serious what the game tells them is serious, and they take as trivial what the game tells them is trivial. In return, the game is able to reduce the tension between its rules and those of other possible games. 3.) The game becomes uniquely true for its players, and provides them with autotelic, euphoric/flow experiences, which reward them for participating and help keep them focused on those serious aspects of the game for its duration. 4.) All of the necessary resources for the game are localized within the game’s boundaries. In short, a game—virtually any game—creates an imagined world. The game provides all the ingredients, the resources, rules, histories, challenges, and players needed to complete its expected duration within a self-defined time and space, a world of its own making which systematically neglects alternative worlds.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games The nation game is good example:
Finally, it [the nation] is imagined as a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship. Ultimately it is this fraternity that makes it possible, over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die for such limited imaginings. These deaths bring us abruptly face to face with the central problem posed by nationalism: what makes the shrunken imaginings of recent history (scarcely more than two centuries) generate such colossal sacrifices? I believe that the beginnings of an answer lie in the cultural roots of nationalism. (Anderson, 9)

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That the game is such a “limited imagining” and still able to command the desires and attitudes of its players is the central question at hand. There are, of course, differences between creating an entire “nation” and creating a recreational game (such as, say, basketball), but these differences are all within a typology of possible games, rather than between something “serious-and-a-non-game” and something “non-serious-and-a-game.” Games are quite enough. Between the trivial game and the inherently serious30 game there is only a distance of attitude and of scope. As will be shown below this distance can be crossed and even reversed with astonishing quickness. In any game, the world created by this game is continually tested in the process of playing it. If the game does not play, if the action (in either its conceptual or performative aspects) fails, the player(s) may cease to voluntarily continue his/her/their role(s) and the game may
30 All games are internally equally “serious” about the rules and the contents of

their world. This is an important concept to remember, as it will be potentially confused with the other notion—that of inherently serious games. Games are inherently serious when they encompass risks that endanger the player’s existence or status. This latter seriousness is the type of seriousness that is meant by the notion of a “serious game.” The notion of a serious game is not simply the rather obvious notion of playing a non-serious game for life-threatening stakes. Instead of this “playing chess (or checkers, or tic-tac-toe) with death” sense, the notion of a serious game is one where the game encompasses “real-world” social interactions, such as political or religious events.

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end prematurely. In any game, from tiddly-winks to thermo-nuclear war, action is determined first by the selection of players, by their motivations, attitudes, and then by their play of the game. The nation is necessarily a game as it must select and attract its “players” into its self-defined boundaries, where, by selective inattention, they are able to become engrossed in their nationalism and to identify themselves (regressively, if you are a Freudian, but in any case voluntarily at some level) with the roles their nation establishes for them and through this engrossment and the lack of tension, they achieve a euphoria, an experience of flow that makes the world “worthwhile” of itself. Maps of desire From here it remains to look at some “real world” activities and see what the serious game theory does with them, and if this can be taken seriously. Let’s begin again with Goffman, who, citing the work of Max Weber, proposed that his theory of encounters (part of what I call “games”) might well be expanded into “serious areas of life”:
Just as properties of the material context are held at bay and not allowed to penetrate the mutual activity of the encounter, so also certain properties of the participants will be treated as if they were not present. ..[the] effort to treat sociability as a type of ‘mere’ play, sharply cut off from the entanglements of serious life, may be partly responsible for sociologists having failed to identify the rules of irreverence in sociability with similar rules in serious areas of life. A good example of these rules in the latter areas is found in the impersonal calculable aspects of Western bureaucratic administration. Here, Weber supplies an obvious text, providing only that... we accept as a tendency what is stated as fact: ‘The “objective” discharge of business primarily means a discharge of business according to calculable rules and “without regard for persons.” ’[Weber, 1946, p.215, stress in the original.](Goffman 1961, 20-21)

The processes of socialization belong to long duration games that use rules to describe and enforce selective inattention, particularly in its use of discipline on affective display (ibid, 25). Every social encounter includes demands on the attention of its participants, now-

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familiar demands concerning what is to be considered seriously and what is to be considered as trivial—that is, not to be considered at all. The notion that some games are inherently serious, should not be confused with any notion that a game might provide access to “universal truths.” Games that control the survival needs of individuals, that include the resources necessary for these needs within their own realized resources, are inherently serious because the risks that they engender, the challenges they provide, coincide with the process of psychobiological survival of these individuals. It is possible to classify games according to the overlap between their boundaries (and also their localized resources) and those of the needs, desires, and obsessions of their participants. Various configurations of human needs have been advanced, one of these is found in A. H. Maslow (1954). He presented a hierarchy of need levels. This type of scheme, however, allows that “primitive” societies are still grappling with lower level needs, while more “modern” societies have met these and are facing the higher level needs. The notion of a hierarchy is perhaps not a useful one, however, the schema of four types of needs—biological, safety, group, and ego— seem fairly comprehensive. In serious game theory, these form the area where inherently serious games are found (See: Figure 1, preceding the bibliography). Inside the area of survival need there are two more areas: the area of desire, and that of obsession. In these areas, the material requirements of the survival need area are transformed by other technologies of experience into harmless or harmful “playthings”. The preparation of food required for survival is transformed into the art of cuisine in the area of desire, and eating into an obsessive game by gluttony as well as by abstinence or anorexia. A similar process occurs

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with sex. Copulation for reproduction becomes recreational sex in the area of desire, or an obsession in the games of nymphomaniacs or celibates. Sex is overlaid with an economy of desire, with a sexuality (cf. Foucault 1990). The area of desire is where trivial games are played. The failure of a trivial game has no effect on the survival needs of the individual, but rather on the immediate consumption of desire. The area of obsession is that area where trivial games become risky again. In this area, both failure and prolonged success may present a risk to the psychobiological status of the individual. The area of need is normally defined and bounded by the ruling serious game. It forms the outer boundary of this game. All games external to this are considered trivial unless they overlap this boundary. The boundaries between needs and desires and obsessions are also determined by this game. (See: figure 2, preceding the bibliography). The determination of what constitutes a need vis à vis a desire vis à vis an obsession varies between ruling serious games. When a serious game overlaps a basic human need, it still creates its own common-sense rules about this need. Needs, even the most basic ones, are defined arbitrarily within the game. A welldocumented example for this is the creation of rules about foods: rules that tell not only what can and cannot be eaten safely, but what types of nourishment are important, and how food resources are to be handled to assure continuing supplies. While an argument can be made that certain substances (cotton balls, say, or gravel) offer no possible nourishment even though they might be consumable, the range of cuisines, each with its own prescribed foods, around the planet is quite remarkable31.
31 Again it is not the purpose of serious game theory to determine a complete classification of possible ruling serious games. What the serious game theory

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The idea here is that even when a serious game controls one or more basic human need(s), it arbitrarily defines—within some rather broad psychobiologically based parameters—that need for its players and it backs this up with types of internal legitimation that have previously been called ideological or religious or simply mythological. What is more difficult for a game to determine and control are the risks involved in participation. Risk and performance The perception of risk is an integral factor in all games. Since games must provide a suitable challenge in order to generate the experience of flow, every performance involves risk. Risk is a dynamic property of games, since it responds to the skills of the participants, and to their history of performance. For example a long game must provide challenges over the lifespan of the player, while short games must be able to match improved skill levels with greater challenges. The primary notion of risk in the theory of serious games equates risk to the challenge provided by the performance. A corollary to this notion is that of ritual as action in the performance that controls risk (See: Staal). Certain non-risky actions in the performance must happen so that other, risky actions can occur. This thread of non-risky action extends from the starting ceremony to the normative end of the game. It represents the fixed context that the technologies of experience have determined is necessary to support the challenge of the performance. In a basketball game, these rituals include (not exclusively) the arrangement of the court, the properties of the ball, the keeping of the time, and the notion of a “foul.” Games protect their boundaries by ritualizing actions that might threaten these. In serious game theory, ritual represents action

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designed to reduce risk. The rituals of the state are enforced primarily to reduce the risk to the ruling serious game—not the risk to its pawns or even its players. Of course, the reduction of risk at the level of the game cannot fully reduce risks to the game itself, to its completion and renewal. There is a “meta-risk” that even ritual cannot preempt. As Sophia Morgan pointed out:
Barbara Myerhoff has argued that rituals are paradoxical: ‘because they are conspicuously artificial and theatrical yet designed to suggest the inevitability and absolute truth of their messages. {They are} dangerous because when we are not convinced by a ritual, we may become aware of ourselves as having made them up, thence on to the paralyzing realization that we have made up all our truths.’ [Myerhoff, 1979, p.86] To exorcise the danger and the paradox, ritual on the one hand anchors itself in tradition, and on the other hand minimizes as much as possible the perceptual, cognitive or emotional distance between the participant and the text reenacted. It can neither articulate the arbitrariness of the text nor allow any disturbance of the participant’s immersion in it. For this reason, no matter how great the uncertainties, fears or hesitations of the shaman or initiate, there is one existential moment that cannot be contained in ritual: the moment—a common topos in literature—at which the hero stops to ask ‘What shall I say now? What is my text? What is the next step of this journey?’ Even if such a moment were ever to appear in ritual, by virtue of its necessarily being a ritual moment its function could only be to affirm the efficacy of the text...Thus, even though ritual is a privileged space of liminality, there is one type of liminal mixing and mingling that it can neither warrant nor perform without destroying itself—that categorical trespassing in which the work becomes the object of its own discourse, and which is the space proper of literature (Morgan 1984, 81).

A game forces the proper attitude of attention on its participants and rewards this with the promise of flow experiences. Yet the game is thereby vulnerable to changes in attitude. The most serious ruling serious game is undone when its players cease to take it seriously.

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“Before its birth, the Nation is present as a superego voice charging the Convention with the task of giving birth to it. Lefort is quite justified in designating this condition by the term “fantasy”.” (Zizek, 1991, 262) “What made the new Soviet situation so easy to miss was the phenomenon of double bookkeeping characteristic of authoritarian regimes: the same people would be the loyal servants of Brezhnev’s “stagnation” in their public lives and increasingly deviant in their private lives. ”(Hoffman, 18) “Students started it. Small groups of them had been active for at least a year before. They edited faculty magazines. They organized discussion clubs. They worked on the borderline between official and unofficial life. Many had contact with the opposition, all read samizdat...But they also worked through the official youth organization, the SSM.” (Ash, 42)

Part Three: In the realm of the Trivial
Trivium redux This is a story of the twin (triplets actually, since the serious realm has a double nature) worlds that determine the course of human thought and action. Every game, it seems, creates not just one world, but three. The boundaries between these worlds are as fluid as attitudes, and just as certain. As attitude is also the barrier between belief and skepticism, commitment and apathy, so attitude also determines our stance toward the triple worlds engendered by serious games. Such attitudinal boundaries are drawn and redrawn during the course of each of our lives. The world of the trivial exists within every game, invisible to the serious discourse of that game because its profound neglect is a basic part of that discourse. Yet inside inflatable shoes of the part-time campus (office, sidewalk...) clown wiggle the same toes that can also

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press the pedals of power. A preliminary result of serious game theory is a validation, or even a valorization, of the trivial, of the mostly unwritten world of the contra-serious. On its part, society tells us what to take seriously. By this it also tells us what to neglect. What is neglected on the level of the serious is invariably pursued on the level of the trivial. It is here, where the socio-cultural structures need not be followed, where all the rules are subject to modification, that culture reinvents itself. In the world of the trivial all socio-cultural changes, great or small, have their unrecorded beginnings. Curious theories that were bandied around over drinks, utopian novels read on vacations, video poetics and marginal art: The trivial escapes by definition the ruling discourse. That is its power. Here is where the unplotted future creates its own history, writes its myths. Subversion, progress, decline: the changes that force great religions into hasty conclaves and governments into exile belong first to those games that people enter without notice, without risk. The irony is that the ruling serious game creates a world of the trivial by its rules of systematic neglect (by denying attention to this world). Out of this world will come new games to challenge the ruling game. The study of this process is, however, made problematical by a gross imbalance of evidence. The ruling serious game controls the serious discourse of the society (what gets written down or remembered), defining itself, reinventing its history, and systematically neglecting various ideas and actions which then constitute, in a mostly ad hoc manner, the world of the trivial. In the course of a change from one serious game to another, aspects of the previous serious game become trivialized, and these quickly drop out of the ruling discourse, to be replaced by other

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aspects that were formerly trivial, and which occur in the discourse almost as revelations, astonishingly important, carrying their newfound seriousness on their sleeve. Often the new serious game contains dramatic reversals, rituals and meanings turned upside down. The question is then begged: how can people change so radically? How can they live with such inconsistency? Without being facetious, the answer is, of course, they just do not take the change seriously. Visible rapid, radical change in a serious game is not what it looks like from the outside at the level of the serious discourse. The changes at this level can appear to be extremely abrupt, but the evidence of this change at the serious game level is actually preceded by a longer period in which a number of potential changes have matured on the trivial level and, simultaneously, in which a number of the players of the game have ceased to play certain parts of the game as serious. This internal breakdown not only precedes but precipitates the eventual change, as the game cannot proceed for long without controlling those aspects that it describes as serious. Change in any serious game is thus a stocastically organized (that is disorganized) threshold event in which neither the threshold nor the outcome can be predicted. After the event, the new serious state is quickly reinforced by a new myth/history, and the abrogated, now-trivial, aspects of the game disappear from the ruling discourse. (The inflatable shoe is now on the other foot, so to speak.) The result is, from the outside, a sometimes radical disruption in the game state32. From the inside, however, as new myths quickly and
32 The question can arise as to whether there is, in fact, a new game. I will propose that any change that substitutes a new serious aspect for an old creates a new game. Thus the discussion will be one of changes between games, rather than between stages of games. Stages might connote some logical progression between games, when there is only the unpredictable disjunction between what was and has

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seamlessly harden around the new serious aspects, the changes are mostly imperceptible to those who still (figuratively or literally) keep their heads. Continuity is reestablished, and, where the old game cannot be banished to the world of the trivial, it is displayed in pageants or in museums as a nostalgic curiosity. The Trialectic The process of cultural change—now recognized as a disjunction in game states—cannot be characterized as a positivist, Hegelian or Marxist (or even hermeneutical, in Gadamer’s spiral notion) dialectic, but a tension between serious and trivial games: most interestingly, between serious games taken trivially and trivial games taken seriously33. For this reason, I will disambiguate this process from that of dialectic by coining a new term: “trialectic.” A trialectic is a process whereby any serious game is abandoned in favor of another serious game. This process requires the positing of two levels of participation, the serious level and trivial level. The governing process of the trialectic is not that of one serious game (thesis/tradition) confronted by another serious game (antithesis/avant-garde) resulting in a third serious game
disappeared from the ruling discourse, and what is now, and seems to be embedded in history and myth within the ruling discourse. All games are new games. As was discussed above, however, games that occupy the serious need-space of human action tend to appear perennial, in that they must answer needs determined by psychobiological entities, humans; needs that have not themselves changed— although their definitions might have—much in the last several thousand years. 33 Without undo prolixity, it might be worth repeating that all games are serious internally. When a trivial game is played, it presents itself as serious and demands the same spontaneous engrossment and rules of irrelevance as inherently serious games. Since an individual can only be a player in one game at a time, he must abandon, temporarily, his role in the serious game in order to play the trivial game. The king that plays hop-scotch with his daughter is at that moment performatively a hop-scotch player and not a king.

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(synthesis/revolution), but rather the resonance between a serious game—with both traditional and avant garde components—and any number of trivial games that it engenders, which eventually coalesce into a new serious game or games, one of which will supersede the original serious game. Old games are thus never defeated as much as they are abandoned. They cease to be taken seriously34. This subversion of the serious by the trivial is categorically paradoxical. Thus the trialectic can only fail in providing a systematic explanation of the processes involved. Because this failure is guaranteed by the object of study (socio-cultural forms and processes), the trialectic still succeeds in providing an understanding of the object. That this understanding falls short of systematicity35 means simply that it will not attempt to provide system where this is not evidenced. Where a game is subject to change, however, the process of the trialectic comes to the fore, and explanation must give way to paradox and irony. Here is where understanding does not lead to explanation, but rather to a simple awareness and perhaps to wonder, or maybe laughter. Because the ground of change is continuous and contiguous with any game—all games change—the trialectic must be seen as a necessary aspect of the game (particularly on its defenses and reactions against change), and thus a necessary component of any game study. In fact, many (maybe most) of the systemizing features
34 Games of change internally, of course, and these changes generally reflect an

awareness of the trivial, of the possibilities being created outside the realm of the serious. Reform may preempt the trialectic process, or merely delay this. 35 There is plenty of systematicity in the organization of serious games. Here is where descriptions of functions and structures come into play, and where phenomenology and hermeneutics are of value. Descriptions of games as they are constituted and interpreted are equally as important for the study of serious games as they were for world views, religions, etc.

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of serious games—particularly their over-coded ritual or mythological contents—are needed only as strategies against the trialectic processes of change. (The recourses to systematic ritualization, the over-coding of legitimacy, may be primarily defences against the trialectic.) For this reason it makes little sense for any description of a serious game to exclude the trialectic simply because it falls outside the domain of the methods of systematic explanation (i.e. to attempt a description of a serious game within the limits of reason alone), or, conversely, to attempt to systemize the trialectic. The trialectic process disappears under either method. “Only a Game...” There are many types of objections to serious game theory. These include (not exclusively): the objection that this theory “reduces” objective truth to culturally mediated “truth”—to alibi (let’s call this is the theological objection); the objection that this theory is too “powerful,” since it admittedly creates a level of perception not available to members of the nations and societies it describes (this is the social-empirical objection); the objection that this theory reduces the agencies and institutions of society to a level of games (the “mere” game objection); and, the objection that this theory denies any praxis for positive cultural change (the petulant avant garde objection). Like a good theory, this one has its own defenses. To the first objection, it is noted that “objective truth” has not yet been verified and can no longer be taken seriously (the theory uses its own weapons here) as a basis for inquiry. The theory welcomes all efforts to establish that an objective universal truth does exist (futile games have long been played) but it resists the notion that previous or current ruling serious games are based on such adamantine ground.

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There is, for this theory at this time, no absolute or universal ground at all, only the arbitrary grounding of those notions that the game determines are serious by means of writing its own myth and history. Against the notion that it is too “powerful” the theory notes that, just as phonology requires the positing of a phonetic level unavailable to speakers of the language (and yet none the less undeniable as a tool for inquiry into phonology, so too semiology requires the positing of a “semetic” [semEEtik] level in order to approach the organization of meanings. This is quite in line with current semiotic theories (cf. Barthes, Lakoff and Johnson). The fact that speakers of a language cannot normally explain how their language works (but are curiously adept at its use) has not stopped linguistics from seeking such an explanation. Furthermore, that the game of serious game theory grants itself a privileged position is both acknowledged and hedged. The hedge is this: serious game theory is only relatively privileged, in that it provides a level of awareness (not approaching explanation) over the trialectic processes of other games. It is unable to do this for itself, however, and awaits with trepidation the time when some unremarkable undergraduate at some unremarkable university will spit out the notion at a department seminar that will lead to a new game theory. To the objection that this theory also reduces very serious actions and contexts to the “level of games” is met by an expanded notion of the word “game” which encompasses more “serious” actions on battlefields or in corporate board rooms as well as the “trivial” actions on ballfields or in cruiseship card rooms. Serious game theory provides a unified theory of human action without postulating an a priori privilege for either “trivial” (e.g. festival) events or “serious” (e.g. “real-world”) events. Within certain bounds what is then serious or

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games trivial is totally determined by the game itself. There is no a priori absolute or universal measure of seriousness, or truth, as this is commonly described. There are only differentially successful lies about what is serious and what is not. Finally, to the petulant avant garde (cf. Calinescu, Jameson,

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Habermas 1981), who look to influence the trialectic through radical thought and action at the serious level, serious game theory does, indeed, offer little comfort. The notion that rational action has little to do with the overall trend of cultural change does strike directly at the strategies of the avant garde (however, this has nothing to do with reasonability as a metaphorical construct that has had profound influence over the types of new games that have been created in the last five hundred years). Serious game theory suggests that real subversion takes place on the level of the trivial, that social change occurs when those aspects of society that society takes seriously (its myths) are subject to the trialectic process—a process that has no overt leaders or followers and no defensible agenda, no counter-culture, no planned covert actions. And so, a particular culture change cannot be orchestrated, the trialectic process cannot be aimed at anything specifically; the trialectic process of cultural change can, however, be generally nourished by encouraging the venues where trivial actions take place, where farce and fantasy are encouraged. Amateur theatres, dark cafés, underground presses, rock and roll concerts, back alleyways, pirate radio stations, street festivals, costume parties, dorm rooms, circus side shows, church socials, office parties, universities (ideally): wherever people meet, and whatever they do and communicate outside the panoptic scope of the ruling serious game, will feed the trialectic process. Conversely, the threat of trialectic change is best

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preempted by controlling these same venues, by colonizing the world of the trivial. In short, if the revolution is to come (and who knows where this will take us) the coffee shop must be recaptured from the avant garde, who take it all too seriously, and preserved as a sanctuary for the trivial. By proposing this indeterminacy, the theory of serious games comes up against a dilemma it cannot escape: it proffers a performative aspect of social action that cannot be reduced to this society’s conceptual aspect. In fact, performance cannot be properly conceptualized at all; there is no transcendent perspective on it. The depths of thick description lead us rapidly away from rational descriptions into darkly poetic limit at the edge of language, or, as Bataille might argue, beyond. Is there a reliable method that can transpose this type of performance into descriptive prose? End play By now it is clear that serious game theory makes a lot of promises (and that this paper has assumed monographical—if not manifestoed—proportions). It retains as many lose ends as a plate of linguine. By conjoining knowledgeability and attitude with action, suddenly the performative surface of action becomes available again as an object of study. The original promise of the study of social action can be expanded to represent all game performances, and performance, all action. At the same time, these are relinked with the semantics of action, with meanings and narrativities that have become serious or trivial in the process of game-making. The study of social actions as serious games can now explore their performative and semantic aspects and determine the alibis that keep these (and us) holding on to each other’s noses.

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Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games Figure 1

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Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games Figure 2

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Bibliography Anderson, Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso. Ash, Timothy Garton. 1990. “The Revolution of the Magic Lantern.” New York Review of Books. Vol XXXVI: Nos 21 & 22. January 22. Pp. 42-51. Barthes, Roland. 1972. “Myth Today.” in Susan Sontag, ed. A Barthes Reader. New York: Hill and Wang. pp. 93-149. (Reprinted from Mythologies. Jonathan Cape, Ltd. 1972. Translated from Mythologies. Editions du Seuil. 1957.) Bateson, Gregory. 1955. “A theory of Play and Fantasy.” in Psychiatric Research Reports 2, American Psychiatric Association. Baudrillard, Jean. 1983. Simulations. New York: Semiotext(e). Berland, Jody. 1992. “Angels Dancing: Cultural Technologies and the Production of Space.” in Cultural Studies. L. Grossberg, C. Nelson, & P. Treichler, eds. New York: Routledge. Pp. 38-55. Bettelheim, Bruno. 1960. The Informed Heart. Glencoe: Free Press. Bhabha, Homi K. 1990. “DissemiNation.” in Nation and Narration. Homi K. Bhabha, ed. London: Routledge. Boon, James A. 1982 Other Tribes, other Scribes: Symbolic anthropology in the comparative study of cultures, histories, religions, and texts. Cambridge; Cambridge University Press. Bourdieu, Pierre. 1984. Distinction. Richard Nice, trans. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. ______. 1988. “Vive la crise!: For heterodoxy in social science.” Theory and Society, 17:773-787. ______. 1990. In Other Words: Essays Towards a Reflexive Sociology. Matthew Adamson, Trans. Stanford: Stanford University Press. Caillois, Roger. 1957. “Unity of Play: Diversity of Games.” Diogenes. 19 ______. 1961. Man, Play, and Games. New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, Inc. Translation of Les jeux et les hommes. Paris: Gallimard. 1958.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games Calinescu, Matei. 1987. Five Faces of Modernity. Durham: Duke University Press. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. 1975. Beyond Boredom and Anxiety. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, ed.1988. Optimal Experience: psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Eco, Umberto. 1976. A Theory of Semiotics. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

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Farina, John. 1974. “Toward a Philosophy of Leisure.” in James F. Murphy, Ed. Concepts of Leisure: Philosophical Implications. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc. Reprinted from: “Toward a Philosophy of Leisure.” Convergence, An International Journal of Adult Education, II:4. 1969. Pp.14-16. Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things. New York: Random House. Translation of Les Mots and Les choses. Paris: Gallimard. 1966. ______. 1972. The Archaeology of Knowledge. New York: Harper and Row. ______. 1979. Discipline and Punish. Harmondsworth: Penguin. ______. 1990. The History of Sexuality. Volume 1. Robert Hurley, trans. New York: Vintage Books. Gadamer, Hans Georg. 1975. “The Problem of Historical Consciousness.” Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal. Vol 5: No. 1. Pp.8-52. ______. 1985. Truth and Method. New York: Crossroad. Geertz, Clifford. 1972. “Deep play: notes on the Balinese cockfight.” Daedalus. 101:1-37. ______. 1973. “Ethos, world view, and the analysis of sacred symbols.” in Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures. pp.126-141. Reprinted from The Antioch Review, Vol. 17, No 4. 1957. ______. 1973a. “Thick description: Toward an interpretive theory of culture.” in Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures. pp.330. ______. 1983. “Blurred Genres: The Refiguration of Social Thought.” in Clifford Geertz, Local Knowledge: Further essays in Interpretive Anthropology. New York: Basic Books, Inc. pp.19-35. Reprinted from The American Scholar. Vol. 29, No. 2. Spring 1980.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games 5 Giddens, Anthony. 1964. “Notes on the Concept of Play and Leisure.” Sociological Review. March. Pp. 73-89. ______. 1979. Central Problems in Social Theory: Action, structure, and contradiction in social analysis. Berkeley: University of California Press. ______. 1984. The Constitution of Society: Outline of the theory of structuration. Berkeley: University of California Press. ______. 1985. “Time, Space, and Regionalisation”, Derek Gregory and John Urry, eds. Social Relations and Spatial Structures, New York: Saint Martin’s Press. _______. 1990. The Consequences of Modernity, Stanford: Stanford University Press. Goffman, Erving. 1961. Encounters, Two Studies in the Sociology of Interaction. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill. ______. 1967. Interaction Ritual. New York. ______. 1974. Frame Analysis: An essay on the organization of experience. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. Gregory, Derek. 1989. “Presences and absences: time—space relations and structuration theory”, in David Held and John B. Thompson, eds., Social theory of modern societies: Anthony Giddens and his critics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Habermas, Jürgen. 1981. “Modernity verses Postmodernity.” New German Critique 22. ______. 1984. The Theory of Communicative Action: Reason and the rationalization of society. Boston: Beacon Press. Hoffman, Stanley. “A Plan for the New Europe.” New York Review of Books. Vol XXXVI: Nos 21 & 22. January 22. Pp. 18-25. Huizinga, J. 1949. Homo Ludens: A study of the play-element in culture. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited. Hymes, Dell. 1975. “Breakthrough into Performance in Folklore.” Performance and Communication. Dan Ben-Amos and K. S. Goldstein, eds. Paris. Kroker, Arthur and David Cook. 1988. The Postmodern Scene; excremental culture and hyper-aesthetics. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Lakoff, George and Mark Johnson. 1980. Metaphors We live By. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games ______. 1987. Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: what categories reveal about the mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ______. & Mark Turner. 1989. More than Cool Reason; a field guide to poetic metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Langer, Susanne K. 1972. “On the Mythological Mode.” in Walter Capps, ed. Ways of Understanding Religion. New York: The Macmillan Co. pp. 303-308. (Reprinted from Susanne K. Langer. Philosophy in a New Key. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1942.) MacAloon, John J. 1984. “Introduction: Cultural Performances, Culture Thory.” in Rite, Drama, Festival, Spectacle. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues. Maslow, A. H. 1943. “Theory of Human Motivation.” Psychological Review. 50: July. Pp. 370-96. ______. 1954. Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper.

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Mitchell, Richard G., Jr. 1988. “Sociological implications of the flow experience.” in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ed. Optimal Experience: psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Morgan, Sophia S. 1984. “Borges’s ‘Immortal’: Metaritual, Metaliterature, Metaperformance.” in John J. MacAloon, ed. Rite, Drama, Festival, Spectacle: Rehearsals Toward a theory of Cultural Performance. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues. Pp. 79-101. Myerhoff, Barbara. 1979. Number our Days. New York. ______. 1984. “A Death in Due Time: construction of self and culture in ritual drama.” in John J. MacAloon (ed.), Rite, Drama, Festival, Spectacle. Philadelphia: Institute for the Study of Human Issues. Murphy, Alexander B. 1991. “Regions as social constructs: the gap between theory and practice,” Progress in Human Geography, 15:1. Pp. 22-35. Peckham, Morse. 1965. Man’s Rage for Chaos: biology, behavior, and the arts. Philadelphia: Chilton Company. Ricoeur, Paul. 1977. The Rule of Metaphor. Trans. Robert Czerny. Toronto: University of Toronto Press. Robertson, Jennifer. 1991. Native and Newcomer: Making and Remaking a Japanese City. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games Sacks, Sheldon, ed. 1977. On Metaphor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Sato, Ikuya. 1988. “Bosozoku: flow in Japanese motorcycle gangs.” in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, ed. Optimal Experience: psychological studies of flow in consciousness. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Singer, Milton. 1955. “The cultural pattern of Indian civilization.” Far Eastern Quarterly. 15: 23-36 ______. 1984. Man’s Glassy Essence: Explorations in Semiotic Anthropology. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Soja, E. W. 1989. Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. New York: Verso. Staal, Frits. 1979. “The Meaninglessness of Ritual.” Numen. Vol. 26. Pp.2-22. States, Bert O. 1988. The Rhetoric of Dreams. Ithaca: Cornell University Press. Sullivan, Henry Stack. 1956. Clinical Studies in Psychiatry. New York: Norton. Turner, Victor W. 1969. The Ritual Process: Structure and AntiStructure. Chicago: Aldine Pub. Co.

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______.Revelation and Divination in Ndembu Ritual. Ithica, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. ______. 1979. “Frame, Flow and Reflection: Ritual and Drama as Public Liminality.” Japanese Journal of Religious Studies. Vol. 6/4. Pp. 465-499. Weber, Max. 1946. From Max Weber. H.H. Gerth and C. W. Mills, trans. and eds. New York: Oxford University Press. ______. 1958. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Talcott Parsons, Trans. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. Weedon, Chris. 1987. Feminist Practice and Poststructuralist Theory. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1958. Philosophical Investigations. G. E. M. Anscombe, trans. Third Edition New York: Macmillan. Zizek, Slavoj. 1991. For They Know not what They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor. London: Verso.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games After-words Games and the study of place Time and Space All games, serious and trivial, have expected durations. They can, therefore, be distinguished according to this feature. Most trivial games, such as recreations like baseball or chess, occur in one day. Let’s call these “short games.” Serious games are often meant to

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endure throughout the lifetimes of their players. These might be called “long games.” Some apparently short games (such as festivals) actually reoccur at set intervals (yearly, say) throughout the lives of their players and should better be classified as “intermittent long games.” Other games have no pre-set duration, merely thresholds where the challenge of the action or the realized resources no longer maintains them. Warfare is such a game. These are perhaps “open ended games.36” What should be remembered is that a game must provide all the resources needed to sustain its action throughout its expected duration, and that the longer the game, the more there arise possibilities for players to lose their spontaneous involvement and to leave the game. This also brings up the point that a nation-state is not a single game, but a congery of games. It falls to the habitii (and there are more than one of these) to provide the coherence among games. All games have some way to mark their beginnings. There is always some action that signals the start of the game, or the introduction of a new player. Short games also have endings, while long games simply outlast their players. Intermittent long games have
36 This scheme is also perhaps open-ended. Serious game theory is less

interested in providing an exhaustive typology of possible game types than it is in sketching the bare outline of their normative form. So this is enough typology for now.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games starts and endings every time they occur, but the ending also signals

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the preparation for another beginning. Open ended games may end in disarray or they may have some form of closure. However they begin and end, games usually keep their own sense of time, marking this in ways that are important only to that game37. At the edges of this time are the temporal boundaries of the game, within which the game must provide all the time needed for its proper play. A player in a long game may, and probably will, become a player in a succession of short games. However, since an individual can be a player in only one game at a time, he must abandon his role as a player in the long game for the duration of the short game. During that time his role is limited to that determined by the short game. So a person can play chess this morning, soccer this afternoon, and join the festival next week. Games can also easily be embedded into other games as long as it is remembered that a player at a sub level is at most a pawn in a higher level game. Games also keep a sense of place. They define the loci of their action. Serious games create serious boundaries. Players and pawns confine their attentions within these boundaries, and even boundary infractions by strangers might result in their expulsion from the game place. Within the outermost boundary of the game all the necessary resources for the game’s duration must be found, including the space it needs. The nation’s borders are also the boundaries of the nation’s ruling serious game. In order to expand this game, the nation must

37 One way of locating games then is to locate all of the ways that time is kept in a culture. A variety of conflicting measures of time can usually be found, and the use of these externally ad hoc measures of time (hours, innings, quarters, laps, seasons, centuries, moves, sides, sets, campaigns, trends, millennia, strokes, various calendars, and so forth) signal the existence of different games.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games expand its borders. (See After-Words below for a discussion on the study of game places.)

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Technologies of Experience The creation of game-space and game-time occurs on the conceptual as well as the performative surface. The histories and the lore of these are all part of the game. If this paper tends to dwell on the performative side of serious games, it is not because the conceptual side is lacking in form or features, but rather because serious game theory has more profound implications on the study of performance than it does on that of ideas. Most importantly, this theory permits an examination of both of these aspects under the condition that they do not transparently reflect each other. What the two aspects exhibit in concert is a culture created and invested with serious ideas and performances, with trivial ideas and performances, and with the inevitability of change. To create and repeat specific performances, what I call technologies of experience are devised and maintained at the performative and the conceptual aspects of action. These, the knowing how to do the action are transformed into the doing of the action at the time of its performance (See: Hymes). These are the material requirements of the habitus, along with the knoweldge of their making and their wielding. Technologies of experience supply all the ingredients of the action and its required context. These inform the experience of the action during its performance. The material ingredients of modern ruling serious games include the normalizing institutions, the schools and hospitals, as well as military and police institutions and their instrumentalities. These are games with deadly

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games intent. What do ruling serious games look like, and how do they operate? Games and boundaries The boundary of a game (of a festival, a city, a nation) is fabricated as “an analytical category that itself is part of the social dynamic of that place” (Murphy, 1991, 29). If the ethnographer does not problematize the place as displayed in the practitioner’s map, place disappears as an object of study, and is simply reified in any subsequent analysis (ibid., 26). Each game contains a logic of performance, a habitus which needs to be studied on its own terms. We cannot assume that maps drawn from inside different games are liable to comparison, nor that comparison will reveal some universal

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logic. In fact, the enterprise of comparison is wholly inadequate for the task at hand. Instead of comparing “their” maps with “our” maps, we should use their maps to reveal the spatial logic of those places deemed serious and trivial to their game, and use their logic to deconstruct the naturalness of our own logic of place.

The game realm Erving Goffman (1984) used the term “realm” to signify “the meaningful universe sustained by [an] activity.” The process of the “framing of experience”, which he described in careful detail, acquires its geographical extension in the notion of “the realm” (26). Let me propose that his notion of “realm” can be translated in its geographical extension to mean “place”. Geographically speaking, place means realm, and realm stands for place.38; Games create and sustain
38A corollary to this is that realms typically describe places can be mapped and these maps reveal a logic of spatial meaning for the realm. I would suspect that some quality of “mapability” will be found in any place that qualifies as reality. Of

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games meaningful universes we can call places. They make these places out of pre-transformed vicinities we can call “spaces”. That places can be separated from spaces they “occupy” is an essential notion for social geography. The transformation of spaces into places is the very process which interests many social theorists today. How locales acquire and maintain “place-ness” is deemed integral to social integration, and such processes have finally been acknowledged as central to social theory and ethnographic practice. At the same time, one characteristic of places is that these have tended to be tied to locales39. The locale is the extended place of the game, it contains all the localized resources for the game. The difference between maps of such a place40, and, say a topographic map of the corresponding space is not only, or even importantly, a question of a simple transformation of scale, or projection, or perspective, or accuracy. It is also important that this difference is also not that between a “mental or subjective map,” of a

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place, compared to its “actual physical” representation. The difference signals the significant shift of meaning that occurs during the course
course , mapability is not restricted to the one type of graphic representation, but is simply the geographic extension of a more general “describability.” The availability of a geographical description of a certain level of specificity might be a central quality of places that acquire “reality.” 39For a discussion on “locale” see: Anthony Giddens, “Time, Space, and Regionalisation”, in Gregory and Urry, 1985, p. 271. 40Think of maps of fictional countries, of invisible cities, fantastic planets; and also of statistical atlases, tourist guides, communication networks. On the surface, Goffman might seem to be saying that all these maps describe places the meaning of which is determined by the realm (singular) which qualifies as reality; this is something of a Habermasian take on Goffman—a suggestion that any rational discussion would settle the issue of which map most closely describes some external reality—but Goffman is suggesting something quite different. What Goffman is saying is that an activity sustains a place which is taken as real by participants while they are engrossed in this activity.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games of an activity when meanings internal to the activity “re-place”

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meanings that hold outside (or before or after) the activity. Places are event-full, they are locii of repeated practices. They acquire meanings during these practices.41

To study a place The point here is that the need for engrossment presents a limitation on the study of places in that their meaningfulness is acquired partially through the engrossment of the practitioner and is thus accessible in a reliable manner only during the activity. The study of their maps requires an ethnographic exploration of the activities that use these maps. The necessity of the ethnographic moment in no way lessens the need for a history of maps, of places, or of realms. Again, things aren’t so simple; There are answers to questions that can mainly be sought during activity when the logic of the realm of the activity is in place. The same question asked outside of the activity—in another realm— will generate a different answer. At the same time, activities not only create realms of meaning, but also institutions, communities of participants (and outcastes), texts, and histories. These become resources that are recursively used in the continuation of the activity. Of course they must be explored. What is also implied in the need for an ethnographic moment is an experiential realist semantics of place (cf Lakoff, 1987), one that ties this study to bodily activities and thus to an ethnography of these activities. Such a semantics might acquire the label post-(or late) modern, for it challenges modes of categorization (such as subjective/objective) implicit in most modern
41What are those questions that can only be answered by the practitioner while engrossed in the practice? How are these properly translated into academic prose? The difficulties of the “new ethnography” are inescapable in this project.

Nations, Places, and Ruling Serious Games types of discourse. Whatever position these new semantic theories

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achieve in relation to modern intellectual thought, they are quite useful for interpretive ethnography, and also for the task of creating of maps of places. In the course of modernity one might note a shift away from maps that acquire meaningfulness during an activity, that inform and are completed through the activity, to a type of map that can be created and then interpreted without the experience or memory of such engrossment. The distinction between maps the interpretation of which requires a link to engrossment in activities and those that do not is, of course, determined by this feature of the realms/places the maps describe. As modernity is bound up in the devaluation of knowledge/meaning tied to bodily activities (in favor of disembedded meanings, rational discourses, experimental reasoning, etc.) there is a corresponding devaluation in the production and interpretation of maps of such realms (in favor of maps of spaces, satellite images, topographical representations, etc.). The field of hyper-locality emerges in the vacuity of de-activated places. Once the activities that sustained these places disappear, there is no place left to “save,” no “there” there to take away. The task facing the ethnographer is thus two-fold; to acquire knowledge of a place (as thickly described, to use Geertz’s term) and also to develop the theoretical and practical means to map (represent) this place.