Lusory attitude

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The lusory attitude is the psychological attitude required of a player entering into the play of a game.[1] To adopt a lusory attitude is to accept the arbitrary rules of a game, even though those rules often make the experience more challenging, in order to facilitate the resulting experience of play.[2]

The term was coined by Bernard Suits in the book The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia,[1] first published in 1978, in which Suits defines the playing of a game as "the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles".[2] He also offers a fuller definition:

"To play a game is to attempt to achieve a specific state of affairs [prelusory goal], using only means permitted by rules [lusory means], where the rules prohibit use of more efficient in favour of less efficient means [constitutive rules], and where the rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity [lusory attitude]."[2]

For example, when two individuals play the pen-and-paper game Hangman, they aim to arrive at the same word through contrived means, thereby accepting the lusory attitude required by the game's rules.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Salen, Katie; Zimmerman, Eric (2003), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press, pp. 97–99, ISBN 0-262-24045-9
  2. ^ a b c Suits, Bernard (2005), The Grasshopper: Games, Life and Utopia, Broadview Press, pp. 54–55, ISBN 1-55111-772-X