In my opinion, it is always worthwhile to look a little behind the motivation for playing, both in children and adults. This may well reveal the dangers that play entails, but it can also illuminate the sheer joy it can bring, on the one hand, but also serve as motivation itself. And why not?
With this in mind, I would first like to categorise the games. There are quite different aspects responsible for the categorisation, but in this way they are also worth illuminating.
1) Categories of games
a. Pure entertainment games
There are the pure entertainment games. The aspect worth mentioning here is that almost any game can also be played as an entertainment game. Conversely, of course, you can also play almost any game with money stakes if you get bored.
When children play, they practically always play for entertainment (exception: Cincinnati Kid). In principle, children try to reproduce reality in many games, thus practising “being an adult”. In addition, there are games in which children should/can simply learn something in a playful way.
So when you get out of childhood, these aspects gradually fall by the wayside. One could then state as a play motivation: “Yes, I have children. I play with them.” But perhaps that doesn’t quite get to the heart of the matter. There may be a kind of play instinct in people that makes them find games exciting, entertaining or in some other way appealing, even as adults.
And in order to pursue this play instinct, one can in turn play various kinds of games. Purely for entertainment. However, I can hardly assign a particular suitability as an entertainment game to a game. The suitability can rather apply the other way round, namely when asking which entertainment game is also suitable as a money game.
b. Pure games of chance
Pure games of chance have the special quality that you can’t do anything by thinking. As a result, all players are quasi “equally good”. Of course, such games are to be played exclusively with money stakes. Roulette without a stake would certainly be boring. But it is a pure game of chance in this sense (restrictions on this in the chapters “”, “”). It is desirable that it is a pure game of chance. The organiser thus has his predetermined profit reasonably reliably, so that he can organise the game, the “guest” plays it for entertainment, under fairly fair conditions.
Of course, one can also play pure games of chance privately, where neither side has an advantage in the long run. But that also gets boring quite quickly. Or would you find it entertaining to play coin toss for an hour against a friend for 10 euros per toss?
c. Games with a luck factor and a skill factor
In any case, these games have a high suitability to be both suitable as a money game in the long run and entertaining in the long run. You can influence your chances by making good decisions, but you can also simply be lucky or unlucky. The weaker player can win sometimes, which is also a motivation for him. In addition, you have the opportunity to develop yourself further. You can learn winning strategies, apply them. You can even compete with others in tournaments. But with enough luck, you can also achieve success, even if it is only temporary. In short: There is something for everyone.
These games include: Skat, Backgammon, Poker, Bridge, Rummy. Even Black Jack is included to a certain extent.
d. Movement games
The natural instinct to move, even as a child, often makes one join a sports club at a young age and learn one or more sports/games there. The skills built up are then transported into adulthood and one continues to apply them there by continuing to play that sport.
Even if the focus is on movement, it is usually applied in competitions. So here, too, people try to compete with others, to determine a winner, to improve their own skills, to advance or even, in the more or less professional case, to earn money with it.
The types of sport are too diverse to justify a list here.
e. Thinking games/thinking sports
Thinking is supposed to be the most important characteristic of human beings. In this respect, it is a good idea to train one’s abilities in this area first and then possibly even to measure them.
And although many games, especially those in which luck and skill factors are combined, are much more suitable than money games, chess has been chosen to be outstandingly representative of this special human characteristic, thinking. However, the game of chess should be explicitly excluded here. It is dealt with in many other places. Here, therefore, we will talk more about other mental sports.
The mental sport I am referring to here is essentially puzzles. And the special thing about it is that you can play this kind of game all by yourself. There is no one to whom you have to justify your thinking mistakes, the time you invested, the way you solved the puzzle or even your inability to solve it. You look for a challenge all to yourself. Whether it’s a crossword puzzle or a number puzzle or some other brainteaser (8 balls; one of them is heavier or lighter; weigh it twice on a scale that can only go up or down; find the one ball with the different weight from the others…), you measure yourself only against yourself.
My personal, absolute favourite among the puzzles? Sudoku, of course. If I really didn’t know what I had to do: a Sudoku passes the time playfully and even a little sensibly. The grey cells really want to be challenged once in a while, they say. You could also call this sport “brain jogging”.
2) The perspective
The original attraction of a game is, of course, basically to play it yourself. It brings a kind of diversion, pastime, the aspect of company, sociability, must not be ignored either. And you can also get, learn, acquire skills that you can then use in comparison with others. Aesthetics or art can even play a role.
But measuring oneself against others is of paramount importance. The feeling of winning is such a beautiful one that one would like to feel it repeatedly.
There are four criteria that can be responsible for a game being attractive to spectators. I would like to examine each aspect in turn:
The first aspect, in any case, is excitement. If a game promises a lot of excitement, a lot of fluctuations, an up and down, a back and forth, this can definitely make this game attractive for a spectator. You see someone getting close to the goal, sniffing at victory, suddenly the surprising turn (I’m not saying Rocky now). Even people who are not familiar with the game or do not play it themselves can experience the game as exciting because of this tension. The example always makes it clearest: you don’t have to know how to play tennis or football to follow a match or game and find it exciting. As a rule, it is the movement games that are suitable for almost everyone to be able to follow them as a spectator.
Another aspect can be a high ability of the players. For all people who play a certain sport themselves, this sport, even if it seems boring to the uninitiated, can draw its attraction from the high level of mastery of the participants themselves. In any case, chess falls into this category. To non-chess players it can appear only and exclusively boring. One can perhaps watch for five minutes and be amused by the absurdity of what is happening. People sitting there absolutely silent and — just doing nothing at all. Maybe one person bobs his knees, another scratches his head, a third kneels with his arms in the middle of the board. But apart from that, nothing happens. Not even one figure is moved. But even if one is moved, it makes absolutely no difference to the uninvolved spectator whether the bishop, the knight, a pawn or the rook is moved. The differences may only be noticeable to the very small number of absolute insiders. And even there, doubts are often raised as to who really perceives the nuance that distinguishes one move from the other. What is happening is essentially happening in the minds.
The third aspect is fanaticism. More cautiously, one could also call it “adherence”. It can happen that you know one of the participants personally, possibly even call yourself his friend, but also the pure identification with a participant, whether individual or team. In the course of the game, neutral spectators often pick out their personal favourites. This can be related to a sympathy triggered by some action or to an injustice that happened to one that was quite obvious. The average neutral spectator, however, usually picks the underdog. After all, it always has a special charm when David defeats Goliath (my second son has this name perhaps not entirely by chance, apart from the beauty of its sound). And this consideration alone would have merited a lengthy psychological excursus, which I will mercifully spare you here.
The fourth aspect is that here one is already often practising prediction. One can demonstrate one’s own mastery, one’s own understanding of this game in such a way that one gives a (brilliant) tip on the winner, the winning team. And this almost leads on to the spectator’s form of play, namely betting. You watch a match anyway, it’s a game, but you can even play along as a spectator, put all the skills you’ve acquired to good use and win? Ideal, isn’t it?
3) The justification of the games
Every game has its own justification, as can be seen in the previous chapters. The simplest possible game, which also guarantees equal opportunities, the most complex game, in which the best player prevails as reliably as possible, also has a certain attraction (even if this is not to be sought in financial motives), the exercise game, in which one not only does something good for the body, but can also compete and assert oneself, betting itself, where the spectator is almost directly involved in the action. The game of roulette, which is really played under very fair conditions and derives its attraction exclusively from the money factor, also has its justification, of course, as do lotteries or the lottery. Here, the attraction lies in the possibility of winning a very large amount at once, due to the enormously high number of participants, who all chase the same illusion, but in fact someone always gets hit. So there is no denying the legitimacy of such a game.
I would like to examine the causes and consequences of the whole thing in a separate chapter if it is pursued excessively, or even if one becomes addicted to it. Just this much: Obelix once complained of stomach ache after eating a huge quantity of oysters, all of which he ate in their shells. Asterix replied: “Oysters are like the Romans: Too much of them is unhealthy.”