Why do we play at war

Bernie DeKovens Funlog is my favourite source of play ideas (such as no-ball football or junk games). Occasionally even he gets serious, for instance when answering this question:

Why do people enjoy meeting in cyberspace to engage in simulated warfare, with games like Halo and War Craft? Why do people want to spend their time “killing” each other as a pastime?

His answer is classic:

– we play war because we need to play with it – there’s no other way to integrate such an awful reality into our understanding of the world. it is too ugly, too irrational, too stupid for us to grasp in any other way.

– we know we’re not really hurting anyone or anything, we know that we can’t really die, and without that knowledge, we couldn’t have fun

– we can trust each other if we all know that we’re trying to kill each other, that the very worst in us is not hidden or subsumed by any other attempts at being human, so when we meet, we can meet above all that

I enjoy this view because it is appreciative without romanticizing anything. War games of many kinds have been with us for as long as we have been human, and according to Bernie, this is not a bad thing to be avoided or outlawed. There’s more: Read the entire answer here.

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