Excerpt from The Playful and the Serious: An approximation to Huizinga's Homo Ludens by Hector Rodriguez
"Huizinga sometimes writes that play is 'free', by which he means that the fundamental motive of play is the experience that it affords. We do not characteristically play to fulfil a practical task; we play for the sake of the lived quality that attaches itself to the act of playing. To speak of experience implies a vocabulary of qualitative description. Words like 'tension', 'release', 'challenge', 'effort', 'uncertainty', 'risk', 'balance', 'oscillation', 'contrast', 'variation' and 'rhythm' typically describe the activity of playing as a temporal modulation of rising, falling and evolving intensities. According to Huizinga, the cultural study of play consists in a careful description of the players' experiences. The consciousness of risk, for instance, presupposes that the player cannot confidently anticipate the result of an action; this unpredictability largely determines the intensity of many games, particularly those involving chance and competition. To experience this sort of tension is to become invested in an outcome that has not yet been settled. It is always possible to ask: How will the game come out? The intensity of our investment in many games essentially depends on our consciousness that their outcome is not fixed in advance."