Have you ever just sat and watched someone play soccer? Or Candy Crush? What about just watching someone bounce a ball off a wall then catch it? Or one of these cup-in-ball games? There is a vast diversity in games that people play from the overwhelmingly complicated, multi day risk style board game marathons to something as simple as throwing a ball in the air then catching it. This weekend I found myself drunkenly marveling as bar-goers played a game of swinging a loop on a string into a hook in the wall. A simple game for sure, but somehow holding the bar’s attention for minutes at a time, each person lining up for their shot to show how they too could achieve victory in less tries than the last patrons.
If you think we are many magnitudes more complex than other animals in our game playing I suggest you reevaluate that stance, a simple ball game can be just as entertaining to us as to a dog. Many animals play games and they have the added benefit of not needing to find a justification for why they enjoy them. The joy found in catching a ball is all the justification you need to play. Enjoying something for its own sake, intrinsic value!
Somehow though the value of a game, of play, can become lost and muddled when meaning is needed to justify its time investment. As someone who is hopelessly lost in my own head all too often, I wonder about the value of most everything I do but I think doing this is a mistake oftentimes. I want to get back to my roots and enjoy the enjoyment without my added values and meanings. An ongoing journey for sure, but journeys too are intrinsically valuable.