"Playtimes" discusses various moments in history of the theory of play - of play as something opposed to modern capitalist society, as an activity more at home in the distant past or in a possible future. From Schiller to Kaprow and from Huizinga to Debord, play was seen as an anachronistic presence in modernity.

This essay analyses various forms that such theorizing took, from early Romantic-Idealist utopias and their collapse in the later phases of the French Revolution and during the Restoration to Huizinga´s conservative pessimism and neo-avant-garde´s attempts, in the 1950s and 1960s, to unleash a revolution of play unhindered by rules - of play freed from any basis in conventional games.

By now, play seems to have caught up with the present, or vice versa; post-Fordist capitalism seems to have made a "ludic tun" echoing that of the 1960s neo-avant-garde. But if the modern theory of play is itself something of an anachronism in the age of game studies, this text argues that it may be a productive one.

(From the author's blog)

Playtimes (Sven Lutticken)
New Left Review, no.66, Nov-Dec 2010, pp. 125-140
Playtimes (Sven Lutticken).pdf
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