Play Anything by Ian Bogost
The Pleasure of Limits, the Uses of Boredom, and the Secret of Games

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...the author could have made the book much better with an additional chapter focusing on the common practical applications of his theory. The examples he does use...are outside of most people’s experience. The ideas that the book promotes are worth putting into practice, but only when the reader understands what the author recommends.
-NY Journal of Books

Synopsis

“Play Anything is nothing short of brilliant... I will be recommending this provocative and entertaining book to everyone I know.” --Jane McGonigal, bestselling author of Reality is Broken and SuperBetter

Life is boring: filled with meetings and traffic, errands and emails. Nothing we’d ever call fun. But what if we’ve gotten fun wrong? In Play Anything, visionary game designer and philosopher Ian Bogost shows how we can overcome our daily anxiety; transforming the boring, ordinary world around us into one of endless, playful possibilities.

The key to this playful mindset lies in discovering the secret truth of fun and games. Play Anything, reveals that games appeal to us not because they are fun, but because they set limitations. Soccer wouldn’t be soccer if it wasn’t composed of two teams of eleven players using only their feet, heads, and torsos to get a ball into a goal; Tetris wouldn’t be Tetris without falling pieces in characteristic shapes. Such rules seem needless, arbitrary, and difficult. Yet it is the limitations that make games enjoyable, just like it’s the hard things in life that give it meaning.

Play is what happens when we accept these limitations, narrow our focus, and, consequently, have fun. Which is also how to live a good life. Manipulating a soccer ball into a goal is no different than treating ordinary circumstances— like grocery shopping, lawn mowing, and making PowerPoints—as sources for meaning and joy. We can “play anything” by filling our days with attention and discipline, devotion and love for the world as it really is, beyond our desires and fears.

Ranging from Internet culture to moral philosophy, ancient poetry to modern consumerism, Bogost shows us how today’s chaotic world can only be tamed—and enjoyed—when we first impose boundaries on ourselves.

“Play Anything is a profound book: both a striking assessment of our current cultural landscape, and at the same time a smart self-improvement guide, teaching us the virtues of a life lived playfully.” --Steven Johnson, author of How We Got To Now and Everything Bad Is Good For You
 

About Ian Bogost

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Ian Bogost is the Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in media studies and a professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a founding partner at Persuasive Games, and a contributing editor at The Atlantic. Bogost lives in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow him @ibogost
 
Published September 13, 2016 by Basic Books. 288 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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NY Journal of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Christopher M. Doran on Oct 25 2016

...the author could have made the book much better with an additional chapter focusing on the common practical applications of his theory. The examples he does use...are outside of most people’s experience. The ideas that the book promotes are worth putting into practice, but only when the reader understands what the author recommends.

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