Rules, Games, and Society

  • Martin A. Bertman


‘Game’ means ‘play within the construction of rules’. The sub-category ‘sport’ considers play as competition (in classical Greek, ‘athletos’ means ‘competition for the sake of victory’) where the rules are known to the audience, under the following divide: fundamental constructive rules about the game's structure and less important or flexible rules facilitating and monitoring play. These provide athletes and audience with stable knowledge. The excitement of play comes from the vagaries of the actual engagement of the rules in the action of play. The social order can use this as a metaphor of its ideal of civil law (and less sharply, of cultural custom) in relation to the citizen.