The rule that anyone who wants to play gets to play is probably the most consistent and pervasive of all the unwritten rules that govern most of the games I’ve taught, or created or advocated these 45 years.
I am very aware that this leaves a lot out. By far, the vast majority of games are founded on the assumption that you have to be good enough to play, and you have to be even better than that to win.
My focus on games of inclusion is in no way a negative judgment on sports and the majority of computer games, board games, table games, outdoor games, pub, parlor, playground games. The aesthetics of competitive games, the elegance of their design, the grace, the intelligence, the teamwork they nurture, and their universality, all testify to their value to society, culture and human development. And I do make much ado of giving them their due. Especially the very old and very new, because they embody variations of a world view, different aspects of the human drama, and insights into the structures of culture and society.
In truth, it’s the ability of players to transcend the arbitrary distinctions drawn by games of exclusion, and celebrate the excellence of the way they played together, that led me to write The Well-Played Game. It was my desire to make the experience of the Well-Played Game more accessible that led me to realize that inclusion was the goal, and the advocacy of fun for all, the method.
This unwritten rule was as central to the New Games Foundation as it was to me – and explains a great deal about why we got so involved with each other. It shares its spirit with the people who wrote one of my favorite documents on how to build a truly inclusive playground – David Werner’s Nothing About Us Without Us. And, hopefully, helps make a little more clear the overriding purpose of this site.
See also: my kind of fun.
(the photo in this post comes from Morgan’s Wonderland, a theme park designed “To provide a safe, clean and beautiful environment free of economic barriers that all individuals, regardless of age, special need or disability, can come to and enjoy.”)