Caillois and game classification

Caillois divides games into four categories:

AGÔN: competition

ALEA: chance

MIMICRY: simulation

ILINX: vertigo (linked to the desire for disorder and destruction)

He posits that games can also be placed on a continuum between two poles:

PAIDIA: diversion, turbulence, free improvisation, carefree gaiety. JOY.

LUDUS: rules, conventions: a discipline for paidia. DIFFICULTY.

caillois-table

With regard to one of the themes which I am focusing on, narrative, Caillois notes that ‘Identification with the champion in itself constitutes mimicry related to that of the reader with the hero of the novel and that of the moviegoer with the film star’ (p.22). Further, he proposes that, ‘bicycle races, boxing or wresting matches, football, tennis or polo games are instrinsic spectacles, with costumes, solemn overture, appropriate liturgy, and regulated procedures. In a word, these are dramas whose vicissitudes keep the public breathless, and lead to denouements which exalt some and depress others’ (p.22).

 

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