“In every person a child is hidden that wants to play” - Friedrich Nietzsche
We're a playful species
Games are fundamental to who we are. Over thousands of years, they've been as intrinsically linked to world cultures as storytelling.
They're social lubricants. People living in the ancient Middle East as early as c.3000 BCE played the Royal Game of Ur, and conservative Victorians of the 19th Century fully embraced parlour games like The Minister’s Cat.
These days, university ‘freshers’ across the modern world bond over drinking games, and many Chinese people returning home for Chinese New Year play games to alleviate the annual life assessment from their relatives.
But games aren’t just about social entertainment. They've long been powerful educational tools; Snakes and Ladders originated as an ethics lesson for children in ancient India, and modern school systems rely on competitive scoring systems to motivate and track student performance.