Skip to main content Accessibility help

Freedom and the value of games

  • Jonathan Gingerich (a1)


This essay explores the features in virtue of which games are valuable or worthwhile to play. The difficulty view of games holds that the goodness of games lies in their difficulty: by making activities more complex or making them require greater effort, they structure easier activities into more difficult, therefore more worthwhile, activities. I argue that a further source of the value of games is that they provide players with an experience of freedom, which they provide both as paradigmatically unnecessary activities and by offering opportunities for relatively unconstrained choice inside the ‘lusory’ world that players inhabit.


Corresponding author


Hide All
Alder, Avery. 2013. The Quiet Year. Nelson, BC: Buried Without Ceremony.
Bradford, Gwen. 2015. Achievement. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198714026.001.0001
Brand, Jeffrey E. and Knight, Scott J.. 2005. “The Narrative and Ludic Nexus in Computer Games: Diverse Worlds II.” Proceedings of DiGRA 2005 Conference: Changing Views: Worlds in Play.
Brown, Ashley M. L. 2015. Sexuality in Role Playing Games. New York: Routledge.
Caillois, Roger. 2001. Man, Play and Games. Translated by Barash, Meyer. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.
Foucault, Michel. 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de France 1978–1979. Translated by Burchell, Graham and edited by Senellart, Michael. New York: Palgrave.
Gingerich, Jonathan. 2016. “The Political Morality of Nudges in Healthcare.” In Nudging Health: Health Law and Behavioral Economics, edited by Glenn Cohen, I., Fernandez Lynch, Holly, and Robinson, Christopher T., 97106. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Gingerich, Jonathan. 2018. “ Freedom's Spontaneity.” PhD diss., University of California, Los Angeles.
Hurka, Thomas. 2006. “Games and the Good.” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 80: 217235. 10.1111/j.1467-8349.2006.00143.x
Huizinga, Johan. 1950. Homo Ludens: A Study in the Play Element of Culture. Boston: Beacon.
Kant, Immanuel. 2000. Critique of the Power of Judgment. Translated by Guyer, Paul and Matthews, Eric, edited by Guyer, Paul. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 10.1017/CBO9780511804656
Kolers, Avery. 2016. “The Grasshopper's Error: Or, How Life is a Game.” Dialogue 54: 727746.
Mussett, Shannon M. 2014. “Berserker in a Skirt: Sex and Gender.” In Dungeons & Dragons and Philosophy: Read and Gain Advantage on All Wisdom Checks, edited by Robichaud, Christopher, 189201. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.
Nguyen, C. Thi. 2017a. “Competition as Cooperation.” Journal of the Philosophy of Sport 44: 123137. 10.1080/00948705.2016.1261643
Nguyen, C. Thi. 2017b. “Philosophy of Games.” Philosophy Compass 12(e12426): 118.
Nguyen, C. Thi. 2017c. “The Value of Games.”Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division, Seattle, April 12–15.
Riggle, Nick. 2015. “Personal Style and Artistic Style.” The Philosophical Quarterly 65: 711731. 10.1093/pq/pqv026
Robinson, Jenefer M. 1985. “Style and Personality in the Literary Work.” The Philosophical Review 94: 227247. 10.2307/2185429
Rohwer, Susan. 2014. “It's Time to Silence ‘Gamergate, ’ End the Misogyny in Gaming Culture.” Los Angeles Times, October 17.
Schaeffer, Jonathan, Burch, Neil, Björnsson, Yngvi, Kishimoto, Akihiro, Müller, Martin, Lake, Robert, Paul, Lu, and Sutphen, Steve. 2007. “Checkers Is Solved.” Science 317: 15181522. 10.1126/science.1144079
Scheffler, Samuel. 2013. Death and the Afterlife. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199982509.001.0001
Suits, Bernard. 1990. The Grasshopper: Games, Life, and Utopia. Boston: David R. Godine.
Tasioulas, John. 2006. “Games and the Good.” Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 80: 237264. 10.1111/j.1467-8349.2006.00144.x
Ullmann-Margalit, Edna, and Morganbesser, Sidney. 1977. “Picking and Choosing.” Social Research 44: 757785.


Related content

Powered by UNSILO

Freedom and the value of games

  • Jonathan Gingerich (a1)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.