The Magic Circle

The term magic circle is appropriate because there is in fact something genuinely magical that happens when a game begins. A fancy Backgammon set sitting all alone might be a pretty decoration on the coffee table. If this is the function that the game is serving-decoration-it doesn't really matter how the game pieces are arranged, if some of them are out of place, or even missing. However, once you sit down with a friend to play a game of Backgammon, the arrangement of the pieces suddenly becomes extremely important. The Backgammon board becomes a special space that facilitates the play of the game. The players' attention is intensely focused on the game, which mediates their interaction through play. While the game is in progress, the players do not casually arrange and rearrange the pieces, but move them according to very particular rules.

Within the magic circle, special meanings accrue and cluster around objects and behaviors. In effect, a new reality is created, defined by the rules of the game and inhabited by its players. Before a game of Chutes and Ladders starts, it's just a board, some plastic pieces, and a die. But once the game begins, everything changes. Suddenly, the materials represent something quite specific. This plastic token is you. These rules tell you how to roll the die and move. Suddenly, it matters very much which plastic token reaches the end first.


Folksonomies: gameplay

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 Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Salen, Katie (2003925), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: games game design gameplay