Questions about Games and McLuhan for #UMRG

In anticipation of Kars Alfrink joining us this Monday I thought I would post some questions about games (for Kars and the others to ponder on) on the basis of his chapter on the topic.

McLuhan sees games as an extensions of social and group selves:

As extensions of the popular response to the workaday stress, games become faithful models of a culture. They incorporate both the action and the reaction of whole populations in a single dynamic image.

This means we can learn a lot about a society through observing its games:

The games of a people reveal a great deal about them.

My question would be: What does the current world of gaming (e.g. the gamification hype or the move to virtual rather than physical world or any other trend) tell us about our current society?

McLuhan seems to think that games need specators:

Art and games need rules, conventions, and spectators. [..] Great teams often play practice games without any audience at all. This is not sport in our sense, because much of the quality of interplay, the very medium of interplay, as it were, is the feeling of the audience.

My question: Is this indeed the case? What is the difference between participation and observation? What does a spectator add?

Finally, McLuhan seems to say that games make us whole:

We think of humor as a mark of sanity for a good reason: in fun and play we recover the integral person, who in the workaday world or in professional life can use only a small sector of his being. [..] Art and games enable us to stand aside from the material pressures of routine and convention, observing and questioning.

They can even help us be more creative and break out of our regular patterns:

Men without art, and men without the popular arts of games, tend toward automatism. [..] John Kenneth Gailbraith argues that business must now study art, for the artist makes models of problems and situations that have not yet emerged in the larger matrix of society, giving the artistically perceptive businessman a decade of leeway in his planning.

My question is the following: Could games be used as a tool to help people be more innovative in the corporate world (meaning the world of business)? What would the impact be? In which ways is work a game already?

Looking forward to our discussion!


One thought on “Questions about Games and McLuhan for #UMRG

  1. Pingback: Discussing #UMRG Chapters 23, 24 and 25 | Understanding Media

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