Into the Magic Circle: Rethinking Homo Ludens <p><em>Into the Magic Circle</em> (<em>IMC</em>) is an online, peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal on the cultural and social theory of the play-element of society, politics, culture, arts, and everyday life. The journal welcomes all relevant approaches of the social sciences and humanities domain to reflect on the phenomenon and philosophy of game and the problem of play in times of modernity, and related topics. The title refers to the theory of the Dutch historian Johan Huizinga, who wrote the first ground-breaking essay on the importance of game and play in every aspect of our lives: <a href="">Homo Ludens</a>.</p> <p>Besides journal articles, <em>IMC</em> also translates and (re)publishes highlights from the historical reception of <em>Homo Ludens</em>, in order to make important reflections on game and play accessible for a world-wide audience. These texts are labeled <em>Capita Selecta: The Homo Ludens</em> <em>Reception</em>, and one of them can be found in every new issue. </p> Open Press TiU / Tilburg University en-US Into the Magic Circle: Rethinking Homo Ludens 2950-1431 Some Remarks on the Advantages and Disadvantages of Huizinga’s Concept of Play in Current Debates <p>As an introduction to the online and open access journal <em>Into the Magic Circle</em>, the editor-in-chief Léon Hanssen offers some observations which primarily focus on Johan Huizinga’s basic assumptions about the play element of culture and their relevance in contemporary culture. What makes Huizinga's thesis in <em>Homo Ludens </em>(1938) so challenging and fitting as a source of inspiration, whilst at the same time so debatable, and perhaps even outdated with regard to contemporary culture?</p> Léon Hanssen Copyright (c) 2024 Léon Hanssen 2024-03-06 2024-03-06 1 1 Homo Ludens Today <p>The eminent Italian philosopher and semiotician Umberto Eco (1932-1016) on Johan Huizinga's <em>Homo Ludens</em> (1938).&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Joyce Goggin Federico Gobbo Léon Hanssen Copyright (c) 2024 Joyce Goggin, Federico Gobbo, Léon Hanssen 2024-03-11 2024-03-11 1 1 Playing as Gambling <p>Huizinga argues that true humanity emerges through play. However, the real intrigue lies in defining what kind of play epitomizes full humanity. What constitutes the quintessential form of the homo ludens? Is it the strategic chess player, the competitive footballer, the immersive stage actor, the carefree child? Can all forms of play be distilled into a singular essence? This investigation delves into Maurice Blanchot’s perspective on this matter, as outlined in his work “L’Attrait, l’horreur du jeu” in which he investigates both Huizinga’s Homo Ludens and Roger Caillois’ “Les jeux et les hommes”. He contends, though somewhat ambiguously, that the ultimate homo ludens is the gambler, someone who engages in games of chance without talent or skill. This conclusion challenges conventional notions of human capability. Blanchot contends that the essence of play lies not in marking delineated spaces and times, but in its transformative influence on these fundamental dimensions. Play disrupts the ordinary dimensions of existence, opening a dimension that connects with the limitless and the uncontrollable. The gambler, by embracing indeterminacy, uncontrollability, and uncertainty, embodies the modern human condition in its purest form. This resonates with Blanchot’s earlier exploration of literary writing as a “nonsensical game of writing”.</p> Aukje van Rooden Copyright (c) 2024 Aukje van Rooden 2024-03-06 2024-03-06 1 1 Uncle Sim Wants You! <p>According to Huizinga’s Homo Ludens (1938), all cultural phenomena should be understood as play, since they follow specific rules. In this sense, playful culture is opposed to the seriousness of life. This even applies to war. Although sometimes fought to the bitter end, the noble betting camp was avoiding unnecessary bloodshed. Huizinga criticizes modern, twentieth-century culture because seriousness and play have become completely intertwined. War games like America’s Army, which are not only a tool for propaganda but also for recruitment and military training, illustrate this. Although Huizinga in Homo Ludens sharply criticizes Carl Schmitt’s war rhetoric, both thinkers share their criticism of the blurring of seriousness and play in modern culture. The crucial difference between Huizinga and Schmitt lies in the fact that where Huizinga advocates play as a neutral and essentially apolitical core of human culture, Schmitt believes that human life acquires its dignity through the political sphere, which ultimately also includes the willingness to kill belongs to the enemy.</p> Jos de Mul Copyright (c) 2024 Jos de Mul 2024-03-06 2024-03-06 1 1 Order of Play <p>In the course of society’s evolution the way the distinction between playful and serious relates to other social distinctions has changed considerably, affecting the scope and significance of play as such. This paper analyses the relevance of play in modern society on the basis of its independence from other fields of life. Play’s loss of relevance in modern society, we argue, is the condition to carry out its specific function – confirming and contradicting Huizinga’s thesis about its marginalization.</p> Elena Esposito Copyright (c) 2024 Elena Esposito 2024-03-06 2024-03-06 1 1 Playthings of the Gods <p>In Johan Huizinga’s famous 1938 Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, “magic circle” is used a few times as a metaphor typifying the hallmark of “play”. This article focuses on the last pages of the volume, where the metaphor is mentioned twice for a reason that concerns Huizinga’s entire project. This close reading shows that the metaphor supports Huizinga’s attempt to save his play theory against the objection of relativism: his claim that “all is play” might be interpreted as discrediting all serious truth claims. The “magic circle of play” might call up the abysmal character of all theory, his own one included. The only remedy he apparently can come up with is to make an appeal to antique Platonism.</p> Marc De Kesel Copyright (c) 2024 Marc De Kesel 2024-03-06 2024-03-06 1 1 If all is cozy, what isn’t? <p>The emergence of ‘cozy games’ as a distinct game category gives rise to some fundamental questions about this category’s formal qualifications regarding ludic and narrative elements (including ludonarrative dissonance), players’ experiences, developers’ intentions, and definitions of other constituent characteristics. Interpreting video games as digitally mediated ludo-narrative texts and employing a communication-oriented methodology, the two authors analyze, as case studies for their reflections on the problematic nature of the category, two well-known (if not unproblematic in their identification) ‘cozy games’ – Gris (Nomada Studio 2018) and Spiritfarer (Thunder Lotus Games 2021): both games are identified as ‘cozy’ by critics and players, but – quite paradoxically – deal with not-so-cozy subject matters like death, dying, and grief.</p> Gideon de Pan Frank Bosman Copyright (c) 2024 2024-03-12 2024-03-12 1 1 Homo Ludens and No End <p>Johan Huizinga’s theory of play as set out in his Homo Ludens encouraged many other scholars all over the world to reflect upon play and games in culture. The wish to get an overview of this productive reception was one of the main drives behind the compiling of this ‘open’ bibliography (open, because reflection on Huizinga is ongoing and updates will be welcomed in next editions).</p> Léon Hanssen Copyright (c) 2022 2024-03-11 2024-03-11 1 1 48 48