Compassionate Play in The Ludic Century

  • James Dyer


In 2013 game designer Eric Zimmerman wrote a provocative manifesto entitled ‘Manifesto for a Ludic Century’ (2013a), in which Zimmerman declares the 21st Century’s dominant cultural form to be games. Consequently, Zimmerman proposes that the individual occupant of the century is therefore in a continuous state of game engagement. As such, this re-contextualisation of game space and play, indefinitely articulates the individual as a constant player and character, and thusly challenges the notions of selfhood. Importantly it should be noted, the state of a ludic century is explicitly assumed as a truth, however superficial it may appear. Accordingly, this paper is then afforded to be an extended hypothesis of the proposed ludic century, rather than a critical dissection and response to Zimmerman’s manifesto. This enables a hermeneutic framing of the questions: ‘What does it mean to live in a ludic century?’and ‘in what capacity may the self exist in the ludic century?’ These questions will attempt to distinguish play as an inherent cultural logic that extends beyond the limitations of explicit ‘gamification’ or instrumental play (Stenros et al., 2009; Zichermann, 2010). Concluding, it is claimed that the ludic century elicits a sustained delusion of self, as the player is confined to the designed game structure, which inhibits authentic engagement and interaction with environment and self. It is proposed that this evokes a form of suffering, the compassionate play within the ludic century.


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November 21, 2014