The Dutch philosopher, Johan Huizinga – the man who literally ‘wrote the book’ on play and playfulness – maintained that one of play’s defining characteristics was that it should produce no profit. This, of course is why philosophers don’t appear in the Forbes list.
Philosophy is not our stock in trade at Value Walk, but for all that it seems pretty clear to us that Huizinga was just plain wrong. To be fair, if he’d read Value Walk his famous Homo Ludens (“Man the Player”) might have sold better. But he didn’t, so we’ll have to do the work for him.
There is one thing that we all have in common here at Value Walk, and that includes our readers as well as our staff. At its simplest, that mutual touch point boils down to fascination with numbers and markets. It’s what we do, it’s who we are and it’s how we think. It is part of the DNA of any professional investor. As such, it’s also how we play. And that’s where Huizinga comes in.
We spend interminable hours eating, drinking, sleeping and dreaming numbers. Weighing up the variables that may or may not be about to sideswipe our decisions are part of the rich mix of the professional activity isn’t just a matter of meeting the rent. In fact, it’s a whole way of life.
So it’s no surprise to find that there are many of us who can’t switch off from the numbers when we’re away from the office. This isn’t meant to describe the rise of the Crackberry that is the clichéd example of how we plug ourselves into our working lives 24/7. Instead, it’s meant to point to the way we can’t help but play with the same set of thinking habits that govern our day jobs in our down time.
Whether it’s sports betting, card games or some other form of gaming, there is something about the pure numbers of a gaming situation that number lovers just can’t help playing with. After all, the variables are both familiar and restricted. There are only so many cards or numbers on a roulette wheel. Huizinga would approve of this by the way – he was all for play being based on rules and order.
The worldwide growth of organizations targeting the increasingly deregulated gaming markets worldwide might make you sit up and take notice between eight and six, but what they offer out of office hours can be every bit as stimulating. 32Red, 888.com Bet365 and numerous others are capitalising on a global combination of deregulation and economic growth to offer numbers-based gaming opportunities that are proving to be enormously popular. You can see for yourself if you click here to visit online casino 32Red by way of an example.
It’s a fair bet that you’ll have more fun doing that than you ever will reading Huizinga’s theory of game playing!
As an end piece, here’s a line that Huizinga quoted from Friedrich Schiller, who amongst other things was another philosopher:
“Man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays”.
In other words, if like us you are a number man (or woman!), there is more to your numerical way of life than simply turning a profit!
Johan Huizinga lived in Holland between 1972 and 1945. He was an outspoken critic of fascism and the German Nazis who occupied Holland during the Second World War. He was detained by them in 1942 and died whilst in their custody.