Simmel, Sociability & Fun in Games
I am re-reading an article by Georg Simmel called The Sociology of Sociability. Quite an interesting piece that deals with the question of fun, play, and the sociability that surrounds it. The jist of what I get out of the article is that in order for true sociability to exist in the context of fun, it cannot be content or purpose-laden. As Simmel states “sociability, in its purest form has no ulterior end, no content and no result outside itself, it is oriented and completely about personalities“, I am led to ask myself how does Simmel’s concept of sociability fit into the (often structured) form of play. Simmel goes on to say that once content and purpose is introduced, pure sociability is lost. Play then loses its ‘fun’ and becomes an “association determined by content“. Is that how we are to see goal oriented games? As nothing but a replica of the ‘tit for tat’ social interaction of ‘real life’?
When I play table top “social” games with friends, although there is a purpose or goal surrounding the act of play, most of us will agree that the game is an excuse to be social, this kind of reverses Simmel’s sociability, in that the social is instigated by the goal, but through the act of play, the goal gets lost and the purpose becomes the social.