Last week, I received a mystery package from Dr. Squiers, the professor who taught the earlier Game Theory and Design course at Taylor University. He said while he had been looking for info on the course that he found a couple of books that would interest me. Cryptically, he did not mention the book titles.

When the package arrived, I enthusiastically tore it open to reveal two classic books on game studies. These books, published in the mid ’80s, were used in his course and helped define the lectures and determine the projects in the course. This weekend I spent time reviewing the books and have been fascinated by what I read. Both books are very philosophical, reflecting on the Game Theory and Design course as it was taught in the early ‘80s.

The first book, Intelligence Games by Agotini and Decarlo, focuses on intelligence, its definition, memory, logic, and how games reflect, identify, and challenge our mental faculties.

With more than 100 brain teasers, board games, riddles, puzzles, and games involving memory, logic, words, and numbers, Intelligence Games tests your judgement and creativity and measures your ability to complete in the power game on the job and in choosing a partner, friends, hobbies, and practical movies. By putting verbal, visual, mathematical, and logical forms of intelligence in a different light, this lively and entertaining book offers you an opportunity to reflect about yourself and the way your mind works.

The second book, Finite and Infinite Games by James P. Carse, delves into aspects of everyday life beyond games that follow similar theories and concludes with discussions on faith and gaming. Early in the book you read “It is an invariable principle of all play, finite and infinite, that whoever plays, plays freely. Whoever must play, cannot play.”

Finite games are the familiar contests of everyday life, the games we play in business and politics, in the bedroom and on the battlefield-games with winners and losers, a beginning and an end. Infinite games are more mysterious-ultimately more rewarding. They are unscripted and unpredictable; they are the source of true freedom.

I am very thankful to Dr. Squiers for sharing these books from his earlier course. As we design the new Game Studies course for Taylor, it is very important to look at the history of similar courses and place ours in the proper context. I find these books of great interest for the new Game Studies course and will be adding them to the recommended reading list. Elements of these books will help in the development of our own lectures and discussions on What is a Game, Faith and Gaming, and Gamification.

Game Studies #8: What Is Old Is New

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