When we were kids we played all the time, everything and anything could become a game and it did. Some games you made up alone, some with friends, some were already there and are passed down through generations – because there was something in them that was good and was intuitively accepted into the kids’ social microcosm.

Games are meaningful and they are anything but a waste of time. in the first years of life games become a way of learning socialization skills where one of the rules is – a game is played as long as everyone is having fun. The soon it degenerates into malice, causes pain or is not comfortable for all involved, you drop out of the play circuit which is present in all mammals. Games serve a purpose and they grow more complex – From the pretty straight forward simple peekaboo, to the more interactive games demanding some dexterity, motor skills and social intelligence. They are miniature depictions of life situations through which kids will learn to behave within a structure, to wait their turn, to operate and try to win within an agreed upon set of rules, to cooperate and compete in a fair way, to take into consideration the complementary elements of chance and skill, because they’ll need all of these skills as their games become so complex that they will end up calling them just – life. But we never stop playing in a way, not really. It’s an illusion constructed around maturity.

As we grow up playing starts to be frowned upon, as if it was somehow undignified for grownups to play games, until we have your own children and then we’re “allowed” to play again. Grownups play games all the time, they are just vailed as serious business and rational behaviors, but the same basic principles that applied to the games of childhood are still valid. Have you ever tried to jump into a conversation of a group already deeply engaged in it at a party? You do the same things as a kid trying to join kids already playing. You just kind of approach the group, listen and watch for a while, get a feel of the rules of this particular “game” and everybody’s role in it, then nod a bit and find a moment to jump in not to inconvenience those already “playing” to much.

Any social situation involving a set of rules is a game and there are playable and unplayable ones. The unplayable ones are pretty much those where not everybody abides to the rules. This is why you got so mad when someone cheated at a board game and won unfairly – because their cheating devalues the first principle of the game – rules allow everybody the same chance to win. There are parameters of meaning around the game and you all agreed where the line is and what the goal of the game is- play fair and try to win. Jail is a punishment for not playing fair in society. There are some games you just don’t get to play in life, at least for any reasonable amount of time, unless you’re all in such as marriage and relationships. But if you’re not playing fair, you don’t get to play any long enough to get good at them. It’s a matter of time when the cheating is gonna get caught by the other “players” and you’ll be disqualified. You can always try to find another group to play with and cheat there as well and the same will happen, plus-all of your wins are void by the devious way you came about them.

Keep playing, have fun, have a strategy, play fair, do no harm and aim to win. If you do win, be gracious about it and don’t mock the ones who lost. You might be at the bottom after the rematch of this game. You never know. Play fair.