Play Anything

  • by Ian Bogost
  • Narrated by Jonathan Yen
  • 9 hrs and 51 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Life is boring: filled with meetings and traffic, errands and emails. Nothing we'd ever call fun. But what if we've gotten fun wrong? In Play Anything, visionary game designer and philosopher Ian Bogost shows how we can overcome our daily anxiety; transforming the boring, ordinary world around us into one of endless, playful possibilities. The key to this playful mindset lies in discovering the secret truth of fun and games.
Play Anything reveals that games appeal to us not because they are fun, but because they set limitations. Soccer wouldn't be soccer if it wasn't composed of two teams of 11 players using only their feet, heads, and torsos to get a ball into a goal; Tetris wouldn't be Tetris without falling pieces in characteristic shapes. Such rules seem needless, arbitrary, and difficult. Yet it is the limitations that make games enjoyable, just like it's the hard things in life that give it meaning.
Play is what happens when we accept these limitations, narrow our focus, and, consequently, have fun. Which is also how to live a good life. Manipulating a soccer ball into a goal is no different than treating ordinary circumstances - like grocery shopping, lawn mowing, and making PowerPoints - as sources for meaning and joy. We can "play anything" by filling our days with attention and discipline, devotion and love for the world as it really is, beyond our desires and fears. Ranging from Internet culture to moral philosophy, ancient poetry to modern consumerism, Bogost shows us how today's chaotic world can only be tamed - and enjoyed - when we first impose boundaries on ourselves.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful


This book has nothing that pertains to practical application. Talks about hipsters obsessions hints that the ideas discussed might have useful applications but does nothing to explore implementation or utilization.

Just a collection of ponderings about pretentious interests
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- armod


Would you try another book from Ian Bogost and/or Jonathan Yen?

Not Bogost but Yen was a good narrator

What could Ian Bogost have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

This was very hard to follow in my opinion. I understood the premise that it is the restrictions of things that make it a game, but I felt the examples jumped all over the place.

Have you listened to any of Jonathan Yen’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No I have not.

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?


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- Kathy Novak

Book Details

  • Release Date: 09-13-2016
  • Publisher: Recorded Books