Games: The Cultural Elaboration of Play:
Cultural artifacts, of all sorts, begin at first as 'traditional culture' and, as means of replication spread, eventually become 'designed culture.' Thus, cuisine begins in traditional cusines such as Mandarin or Escoffieresque French, and ends in modern fusion--chefs inventing novel dishes by comining cooking techniques and ingredients in a fashion that would astound and possibly disgust the chefs of the 19th century. The story begins as oral story-telling, and ends in a publishing industry that produces tens of thousands of novels every year (most with scant readers)--not to mention film, experimental theater, and the rest. The game begins with slowly-evolving folk games, and ends with the vigorous spread of innovative game styles. Culture begins with tradition, and ends in a an artistic medium.
So games are cultural artifacts. What basic human trait, then, do they complexify, as all cultural artifacts complexify some fundamental human impulse--cuisine with food, for example?"