Curated by Gordon Froud & John Yannis Generalis, co-curator Doreen de Klerk
Games are the way we learn to interact, from early developmental stages; they are an integral part of human nature and a building block of our social and mental growth. The games we play could be nostalgic games of our childhood or may not imply fun or enjoyment at all. Games have a dynamic quality whether they are child’s play or the grimmest of all games – war!
Eric Berne’s famous 1964 book, titled “Games People Play” defines a “game” as “an ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome”. He refers to this outcome as “A series of moves with a snare”. Berne distinguishes games from other social actions such as procedures, rituals and pastimes by two chief characteristics: Firstly games have “an ulterior quality”, but most importantly games generate “a payoff”. Berne expands his theory of “transactional analysis” describing the games between people, groups, and institutions as distinct sets of “transactions” within human social intercourse. Games involve conflict and are inherently dishonest, and their outcome could have a dramatic quality to it.
The term “games people play” entered the mainstream English language and popular consciousness after Berne’s book was published in the mid 60’s and was made even more popular when the 1968 Grammy-nominated song (by the same name) by Joe South was released. The song was hailed as a protest song, whose lyrics spoke against many forms of interpersonal and personal “games playing” such as institutionalised manipulation, hatred, hypocrisy, inhumanity, intolerance and avarice. The song therefore resonated with a global public within political and social context of the late 1960s and 1970s.