We all play. Even the most serious among us, those austere persons who don’t have time to waste, happen to shoot in a ball or challenge someone to a game of chess sometimes. Others are compulsive gamblers who don’t feel alive unless they are wagering their house in a game of dices. But why do we play ? What is, exactly, a game ? And what does this activity tell about us ?

It is a curious fact, upon close inspection, that every civilization integrates in its system an activity which is, almost by definition, useless. If I were to talk only about the Western world, I could mention the antic Olympic…