The Magical World of Playing CArds

Anyone out there who has never picked up a deck of playing cards; for a round of rummy or solitaire, a game of poker, a magic trick, or to build a house of cards? Have you ever wondered though where it all began, how these pieces of illustrated papers evolved across the world? Here comes a great online resource  with a wide range of answers: The World of Playing Cards.


WOPC, established in 1996, is “a living encyclopaedia of the history and visual art of playing cards”. The website comprises over 4000 articles on the subject, and thousands of cards from 109 countries – from 15th century to date. You can explore the whole content by searching by country, year or keyword.


For those interested in the history behind, Early History of Playing Cards is a perfect article to start, which presents a rich account of the origins and a timeline of these charming artefacts.


The collection has quite a few stunningly beatufil designs – a few hand-picked examples below should give you a flavor of what is at hand. (Click to enlarge)

Now it’s your turn - shuffle the cards, deal a hand, and play your way around this colorful world.



The Strong Museum of Play

The game is called “museum trip"... to a museum of play. Who’s playing? To Rochester, USA we go.


The Strong museum of play, founded in 1968 by M.W.Strong, “a prolific collector of everyday objects, especially dolls and toys” has grown since then to be a “collections-based museum devoted to the history and exploration of play”. In addition to the world's largest and most comprehensive collection of historical materials related to play, the museum houses exhibitions on the subject and a research center.


Games can by no means be contained within museums. Still, the museum is an exhilarating plaything for any ludophile.


Should we go all the way to the States then? Not necessarily. You can make a virtual tour via this link. What is more, you can browse the collections comprising tens of thounds of toys and play-related historical artifacts and visit many online exhibits.


We Are Looking for Gambassadors

Dear Ludozofi community,


We have been sharing games and related stuff via our Facebook page for almost three years, and on for even longer now. We are glad to see that we are now a biggish group of ludophiles.


As a next step forward, now we have another dream: to come together at local game meetups, in person. We need local gambassadors to help organise these events.


We hereby make a call to those who are interested to fill out this form.


Because united we play, divided we can't.

And because game requires action.




The World in Play, Luxury Cards 1430-1540

After their first appearance in Europe in Middle Ages, playing cards are banned by the church. Decks of playing cards then evolve into a unique world of their own in the wake of Renaissance. They become, among others, a means of hermetic philosophy, and imaginative depictions of the universe and the changing society. The World in Play, Luxury Cards 1430-1540, a catalogue prepared for an exhibition in 2016, sheds light on the history of playing cards and the concept of play at 15th and 16th centuries.


"Collectively, the figures and scenes depicted on these cards reflect changing worldviews during a period of tumultuous social, economic, and religious change, charting the transition from late medieval to early modern Europe." (from Exhibition Overview)


Playing Across the Border

The Washington Post, July 2019


"It is not a sound normally associated with the border, particularly in its latest role as a national symbol of incalculable political charge.


But there it was, as unmistakable as the pink seesaws that prompted it: laughter.


Two architects in the San Francisco Bay area are responsible for the installation over the weekend of the three seesaws that briefly graced a small stretch of the nearly-2,000-mile swath of land where the United States abuts Mexico."

Read the full story


Waiting for the Next Level

Kotaku, March 2011


A Kafkaesque story on a Beckettian video game, Brian Ashcraft reporting:


Mike Rosenthal made an absurdist game based on the absurdist play Waiting for Godot. It's a parody, a send-up of Samuel Beckett's famous work. But you know what's really absurd? How Beckett's estate reacted to the game.

Rosenthal says he was inspired by Beckett's work, because Waiting for Godot asks the audience to interpret the play. Likewise, early video games asked players to interpret the graphics.


(...) "Taking all the fun out of a game is funny. Basing a game on a play where nothing happens is funny. And people played it!" One guy apparently made it to the 99th level. Read the full story

The Playground Project

The Playground Project is “an ongoing research project and an online archive on the history of playgrounds.” The rich variety of written and visual documents showing different approaches to playground design in various geographies along the twentieth century invites us to give a thought on the relation between play and space in the urban context. All material is accessible from the links listed on the left panel of the website. For updates and more you can follow the Facebook page of the project.

Game and Sports: Call for Contributions

Kaos GL, January 2017


Kaos GL, an association for gay and lesbian cultural research and solidarity based in Turkey, announced that in the issue of our March–April 2017 their magazine will focus on “Game and Sports”. Here is the call for contributions:


"The game, together with ritual, is the most concentrated area of social existence.  According to Huizinga, the game, which is an indispensable part of life that also existed before culture, always get into the selfs, relations and belongings. The sport, which has all the features of the game, of course goes beyond this first meaning with industrialization and professionalism. However, we can not say that both the game in general and the individual or team sports immanently impose the forms of masculine of feminine actions.  This is precisely why we want to focus on the Works in this field in order to organize the anti-heterosexist attitudes and the personal feminine modes of action within the World of sport against industrial, masculine and homophobic sports structure.


For this purpose, we would like to give place to works about the performative examples of even how the most “Professional” players in patriarchal and homophobic industry of today’s sport can become multi-gendered in the game system, sport industry and its bourgeoisifying, and the social meaning of being team, fans and athletes.


We are waiting for your contributions to by February 5th." 

Minister Reveals the Plot(!): "Islamophobia In Video Games"

DS, October 2016


The Youth and Sports Ministry has pointed out the dangers of Islamophobia creeping into young minds through video games with a new campaign. A booklet titled "Islamophobia In Video Games" was presented at a convention of sports and youth ministers at the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) that ended in Istanbul on Friday. The booklet shows examples of outright Islamophobic graphics, text and actions in games that broadly insult Muslims.

Pokémon Go... or not?

July 2016


A location-based augmented reality game for mobile devices, 

Pokémon Go, released by Nintendo has been shaking the mobile game market since then. Below you will find links to three interesting articles pointing to various possible readings of the game and what is actually at stake in the world it creates.


In a short Overland post Jeff Sparrow questions possible convergence between the experience created by the game and the dreams of Situationist International  in terms of modifying the urban space by traversing it in an unusual way. Sparrow notes that "it manages – at least temporarily – to set you wandering a city landscape that’s been re-enchanted, a place where monsters appear in everyday streets and where familiar landmarks serve new purposes according to the logic of a different universe."


Elsewhere, Laurence Dodds claims, against the argument the game blinds people by isolating them from the real world, that Pokemon Go players aren't ignoring reality but changing it.


Finally, Sam Kriss of Jacobin Magazine contends that Pokémon Go must be resisted because it is "coercion, authority, a command issuing from out of a blank universe, which blasts through social and political cleavages to finally catch ‘em all."


Edit: Another critical piece on the game, partly in response to Sam Kriss' article has just been published on ROAR. In Google’s lemmings: Pokémon go where Silicon Valley says Alfie Bown points to "corporate control and the ability of our mobile phones to organize our desires."


You can download the articles from the library... or not?

Elliott Avedon Virtual Museum of Games

"In 1971, the Universiy of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada established a public museum dedicated to research and the collection, preservation, and exhibition of games and game-related objects from around the world... There were over 5000 objects in the collection, and a large number of archival documents about games.


In 1993, the University began to offer the public this Website based upon the materials in the Museum. Even though the Museum no longer exists, but the collection does, the University decided to continue to host this Website about games as an educational service to the public. On over 700 Webpages, the site includes videos, photographs, diagrams, other graphics, and textual information about games." (From the webpage)

Football Player Retires to Become Professional Gamer

ESPNFC, July 2016



"Wendell Lira is hanging up his football boots for FIFA 17.


The 2015 Puskas Award winner announced on Thursday that he has called quits on the beautiful game to instead pursue a career in video gaming, and he couldn't be happier.


The former Goianesia man made world headlines after taking home the prize for 2015's best goal with a twisting bicycle kick against Atletico Goianiense. Now, six months after winning the award, he is back in the spotlight for another eye-opening turn.


But the move doesn't appear to be as random as it sounds. Speaking to, the the 27-year-old FIFA fanatic explained it was always his dream to become a gamer."


You can watch Lira's award winning goal here. We hope that he will keep scoring more of these beautiful goals in his new career!

Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game

April 2016


The independent game design & publishing collective Out of Order Games kick off their 'subversive experiments in tabletop gaming' with a creative board game of revolutionary strategy, hidden agendas & 21st century urban rebellion - Bloc by Bloc: The Insurrection Game.


"Our varied experiences in street protests, social movements, and anarchist projects around the world guide our practices and the political choices we make as part of this work" say the collective members.


This exciting project awaits your support to be brought to life. Check out the Kickstarter page of the project for further details and do not forget to help welcome Bloc by Bloc to the world of subversive games! 

C'est la vie!



The most life-like game ever!

Just try it out, you'll regret it :)

Greek Match Sit-down Protest over Migrant Deaths

A Greek second-tier league match was delayed on Friday when players staged a sit-down protest against the death toll of migrants trying to reach the Aegean islands.


The gesture of solidarity took place before the game between AEL Larissa and Acharnaikos in the Thessalian city of Larissa.


As the match kicked off all 22 players plus coaches and substitutes sat in silence for two minutes in a show of respect to the hundreds of refugees who have lost their lives trying to escape conflict or persecution in countries such as Syria and Iraq.


An announcement over the club’s PA system stated: “The administration of AEL, the coaches and the players will observe two minutes of silence just after the start of the match in memory of the hundreds of children who continue to lose their lives every day in the Aegean due to the brutal indifference of the EU and Turkey.

China bans wordplay in attempt at pun control

The Guardian, Nov.2014


From online discussions to adverts, Chinese culture is full of puns. But the country’s print and broadcast watchdog has ruled that there is nothing funny about them.


It has banned wordplay on the grounds that it breaches the law on standard spoken and written Chinese, makes promoting cultural heritage harder and may mislead the public – especially children. The casual alteration of idioms risks nothing less than “cultural and linguistic chaos”, it warns.


Chinese is perfectly suited to puns because it has so many homophones. Popular sayings and even customs, as well as jokes, rely on wordplay.


But the order from the State Administration for Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television says: “Radio and television authorities at all levels must tighten up their regulations and crack down on the irregular and inaccurate use of the Chinese language, especially the misuse of idioms.”


Read full story 

Creative Playgrounds


A colorful blog dedicated to creative designs of play grounds from all over the world. Makes you wanna go out and play!


"Because playgrounds are under-recognized as an artistic medium. 
Because everybody loves a playground."  Playscapes


How to Win at Rock-paper-scissors

BBC News, May 2014


What are your odds of winning rock-paper-scissors? Simple - one in three. At least, that's what chance predicts. But people do not play randomly - they follow hidden patterns that you can predict to win more games than you should, a study has revealed. Winners tend to stick with their winning action, while losers tend to switch to the next action in the sequence "rock-paper-scissors". Anticipating these moves could give you a winning edge, say scientists. Their strategy was revealed in a massive rock-paper-scissors tournament at Zhejiang University in China, documented on the Arxiv server... Read full story

Play the City

Play the City offers a playground for resolving urban planning issues, including stakeholders such as citizens, local govermenment representatives and investors as players. This is how they describe the project:


"We use gaming as a problem-solving method bringing top down decision makers together with bottom up stakeholders. In the accessible environment of games, freed from the jargons, various ideas, plans and projects meet, conflict and collaborate towards negotiated outcomes. We believe gaming is the real alternative to standard formats of public consultation in the 21st century."


playthecity // facebook page

Database of Games

A no-nonsense source for games and plays, as the name speaks for itself. Games are usefully tagged and categorsied with regard to locations to play (indoor/outdoor), number of players needed, etc. I will personally go through the whole database soon to find out some interesting games to specifically add to Ludozofi, till then dig and enjoy it for yourself!


Sharp Rise in Teenagers Treated for Computer Game Addiction

DutchNews, Feb.2014


There has been a sharp rise in the number of youngsters being treated for gaming addiction, Nos television said on Sunday. In 2011, 256 youngsters were treated for their addiction to playing computer games but that had risen to 426 last year, Nos said. Nos bases its claims on figures from eight addiction clinics nationwide. Some of the gamers seeking treatment are as young as 10 or 11 and are becoming more extreme in their obsession, Jan Willem Poot of the Yes We Can Clinic group told the broadcaster. ‘Some of them are gaming 18 hours a day. They don’t go to school, use a lot of drugs and are neglecting themselves.’ Read full story 

Class Struggle: The Board Game

 Critical Theory, Dec.2013


When this first popped on Reddit, I was positive it was a fake, yet hilarious, photoshop job.

But Class Struggle is a real board game, released in 1978 by NYU professor Bertel Ollman. It was even translated into multiple languages, including Spanish and German.


Class Struggle was published by board game maker Avalon Hill. In the game, according to Board Game Geek, “the Workers move around a board while trying to survive against the Capitalist who control everything. As the Workers unite they take power from the Capitalist players but if they do not succeed in uniting the Capitalist will win.”


Many of the rules are just like real life capitalism: you don’t get to pick what class you play as, and if you’re one of the lower classes, sucks for you. Capitalists get to roll first and decide the turn order of the game. 

'Turkish Riot': A Game inspired by Gezi Protests!

Taksim everywhere, revolt everywhere! Even in this game called ‘Turkish Riot’. Your aim is to escape the police and score as many tweets as you can.


Click here to play the game.

Conference: Making Sense of Play


3rd Global Conference called 'Making Sense of: Play' will be held in Prague, Nov.1-3, 2014. Here is the call for papers.


For the archive including presentations given in the first and second conferences check 1st Global Conference (2012) and 2nd Global Conference (2013), under session links on the right panel of the pages.

Lost letter spells trouble at world Scrabble contest

The Independent, Oct. 2011


In a week filled with sporting controversy, it was a missing letter 'G' that threatened to set the Scrabble World Championship on fire, as wordsmiths from around the world gathered in Warsaw to do battle.


At the event, which opened on Wednesday, a Thai player demanded England's Ed Martin be taken to the toilet and strip-searched to prove he had not hidden a 'G' tile that mysteriously went missing during their game. The judges ruled in Mr Martin's favour, sparing him the indignity of a search and seeing a tight defeat turned into victory by a single buttock-clenching point. 

Read the whole story

Chinese Online Gamer Dies after 3-day Session















BBC, Feb. 2011


A Chinese man has died after a three-day online gaming session in which he did not sleep and barely ate, reports say.


The man reportedly lost consciousness at an internet cafe on the outskirts of the Chinese capital, Beijing. He was rushed to a clinic but could not be revived, the Beijing Times said.

Read the whole story