The beginnings of a bibliography on sports, games and art, strategy, cooperation and conflict, etc.
Aesthetics and Sports
- Flux Olympiad, Tate Modern, London, 2008 [video featuring contemporary artist Tom Russotti]. Absurdist, performative events conceived by Fluxus artists in the 1960s, finally realized by Tate in 2008.
- Alex Williams, “Whiffle Hurling? Bag Tag? Hey, It’s Art” New York Times, 15 May 2009.
- Institute for Aesthletics / Tom Russotti. “Dedicated to playing sports as artistic practice.”
- The Chap Olympics, Bedford Park, London, July 2012 [National Post article]. Mock-Olympic games judged on appearance and charisma.
Sports & Games in Art
- Gustavo Artigas, The Rules of the Game, San Diego/Tijuana, 2000-01. A project for the cross-border project insite, it included an event in which two Mexican football teams and two American basketball teams played against each other on the same court at the same time.
- Harun Farocki, Deep Play, 2007. A 12-screen video project focused on the 2006 World Cup final, viewing the raw camera feeds through different surveillance and statistical systems.
- Mary Flanagan, Critical Play: Radical Game Design, MIT Press, 2009. Histories of various types of play — house, board games, language games, parlour/performative games — with a particular focus on artists’ (such as Fluxus, Dada, Gutai) approaches to each type of game, and finally discusses critical location-based and computer games by artists as alternate forms of game design.
- Uri Tzaig, various works related to play, including The Universal Square, 1996 film based on a football game where two teams play with two balls, and Play, 1996, a ball game with no defined rules. “I am interested in art that teaches me to move in a different way every time.” — Uri Tzaig quoted in Walker Art Center “Let’s Entertain” exhibition documentation
- Lee Walton. American artist who has done many performance and drawing projects based on sports systems, especially baseball and golf.
Philosophy, Sociology and Theory of Games/Play/Sports
- Diane Ackerman, Deep Play, Vintage, 1999 [link to Chapter 1 on New York Times]. Poet Ackerman describes as deep play the ecstatic absorption into a pursuit, whether it be the experience of nature, extreme activities, dramatically isolated situations, wordplay, or art.
- Roger Caillois, Man, Play and Games, French 1958, English 1961. Sociological typology of games and types of play.
- Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, 1990. Describes flow as a satisfying state of attentive absorption.
- Johan Huizinga, Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, original Dutch 1938, English 1944.
- Jane McGonigal, “Gaming can make a better world”, TED talk, February 2010. Also see Jane McGonigal site. McGonigal is a designer of “alternate reality games” intended to improve real life. Gaming is a powerful engine for solving problems, human evolution, co-operation and trust, producing optimism, and creating meaning. Now we need to turn these powers upon the real world.
- Michael Novak, The Joy of Sports original 1976, revised edition 1994. Theologian Novak writes about the enjoyment of sports in terms of ritual, as secular religion.
- Bernard Suits, The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia, 1978, reissued 2005. An enjoyable read in the form of a Socratic dialogue that attempts first to define a game as “the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles”, and then to argue that games are a central good of human existence. Suits coins the term “lusory attitude”: accepting the rules of a game in order to experience play.
Play, Improvisation and Performance
- Augusto Boal, Games for Actors and Non-Actors, Routledge, 2002. Outlines Boal’s theories for using participatory theatre as a political tool to reverse oppression, and the practical exercises he has used.
- Bernie DeKoven, “Playing Well Together”, keynote for “Think Design Play,” 5th Digital Games Research Association conference, Utrecht, 2011. “Bernie DeKoven (deepfun.com) is a fun theorist, game designer and workshop facilitator. In his book, The Well Played Game, he voiced a philosophy of ‘healthy competition’ that formed the core teachings of the New Games Foundation.” — conference notes. DeKoven’s websites Deep Fun and Junkyard Sports are good resources for play inspiration.
Play and Interaction in Public Space
- Come Out & Play is “an annual festival of street games that turns New York City into a giant playground.”
- Alex Fleetwood, “Games in public spaces – are betting shops the best we can do?”, The Guardian blog, 7 September 2012.
- Hide & Seek game design studio.
- Improv Everywhere. Self-described as “a New York City-based prank collective that causes scenes of chaos and joy in public places.”
- Pervasive Games blog, related to the book by Markus Montola, Jaakko Stenros and Annika Waern, Pervasive Games: Theory and Design (Morgan Kaufmann, 2009). Pervasive games bring gaming into lived space, often assisted by mobile devices. The blog continues the work of the book, including reviews and reflections on the genre.
- SF0.org, an open-source game in which real people complete tasks that reimagine the context of urban life, “meeting new people, exploring the city, and participating in non-consumer leisure activities.”
- Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press, 2003. Practical textbook on game design with an emphasis on underlying theory, cultural relevance, aesthetics of games.
Strategic Thinking and Game Theory
Cooperation and Conflict
Often an economics tool, game theory focuses on strategic decision-making.
- Benjamin Polak, Introduction to Game Theory, online lectures from ECON 159, Open Yale Course, Yale University. Polak introduces basics of game theory by having students work through various games.
- Carleton Reeve, Play with Learning blog. Concerned with game-based resources for learning.
History of Sports and Games
- John Fox, The Ball: Discovering the Object of the Game, Harper Perennial, 2012. Under the general question of why we play, anthropologist Fox relates the historical origins of popular and more obscure ball sports.
- Christopher McDougall, Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, 2009. Within the intertwined stories of an ultramarathon race and the (re-)emergence of barefoot running out of the false promises of the running-shoe industry, McDougall identifies joy at the heart of running.
Critical Commentary on Sports
- Gamasutra, the Art & Business of Making Games. Website focused on digital game industry includes occasional critical commentary.
- “Game Theory” blog, The Economist online. Covers social issues and political aspects of sport.
- Wired “Playbook”. Stories on the science and social science of sport.
- Dave Zirin, Edge of Sports blog. Politically-minded sports blog by sports editor for The Nation.