The Benefits of Games
The theory of Roberts and Sutton-Smith describes the role of games in socialization, learning, and assuaging internal conflicts. In societies where children are expected to obey their parents and others, they may find solace in playing games of chance and strategy. But the theories may also be flawed, especially when comparing the evolution of games with other human activities. Nonetheless, the findings of the various studies have led to a wide range of possible explanations for why people play these games.
Games are cultural universals, meaning they are found in every society. It is not uncommon to see a society without a game, though, as this would probably indicate a society that has undergone deculturation. Ethnographers have reported that some societies did not have games at all. Some games, however, intentionally change the rules to avoid identifying cultural differences and promote competition. For example, baseball can be played with real baseballs or wiffleballs, or with three bases. Some games deliberately alter their rules, while others are based on a fixed set of rules. In any case, these meta-rules determine how the game progresses, how time is kept, how points are scored, and how much time each player has to spend on the field.
Games are also defined by how players engage in them. While most games involve a physical skill component, games of strategy can be a highly stimulating form of entertainment. For example, people who play video games may take happy feelings from the game into reality, and vice versa. Similarly, people who participate in games can find it incredibly therapeutic to de-stress and regain control of their lives. The benefits of playing games are numerous. They may provide a much-needed escape from the stresses and demands of everyday life.