Some thoughts on the practical possibilities of productive play and anarchic games...
Games can contribute a lot to experimental and practical anarchy. Different types of games exist of course, and plenty of authoritarian, hierarchical, exploitative, rivalrous, accumulative, alienating ones exist, especially mass-produced commodities marketed by the dominant culture. However, plenty of anarchic games exist, and play itself has characteristics fundamental to anarchy.
Anarchy, play, and sharing go hand-in-hand. I see "play" as intrinsically motivated: game structures can develop feelings of participation in decisions, belonging to group & place, purposeful effort, achievement-by-effort, competence in abilities, confidence in role, recognition of contribution, respect from peers, respect for peers, autonomy, and engagement. I see "work" as focusing on extrinsic motivations such as bribes (e.g. money, trophies, awards, codependency, comfort) and punishments (e.g. detention, prison, assault & battery, eviction, debt). We do play for process, and work for product. This formulation of play v. work led to Bob Black's theory of anarchist societies emphasizing "productive play" (achieving necessary tasks in a game environment) and games can easily facilitate what Stirner termed the "union of egoists" (a temporary group where participants contribute as long as they mutually experience increased value). Anthropologist Peter Gray documents the role of play amongst egalitarian, anti-authoritarian indigenous cultures in "Play as a Foundation for Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence" and his six part "Play Makes Us Human" series, explaining in more depth in some ways than what I will overview here.
Games have structural values inherent to their goals and methods. These can articulate which forces prevail in conflicts of competition & cooperation, personal growth & teambuilding & enemy-identification, games of engagement (games-aiming-to-continue) & games of completion (games-aiming-to-stop), games of chance & games of skill, games-that-challenge & games-that-review, more freeform & more pre-formed games. Every pole here can contribute in different contexts to anarchy, and earn consideration. Not all games have winners and losers, but winning and losing does not automatically negate anarchy every time either. Games of conflict, such a street battles between anarchist demonstrators and the police, corporate security, and snitches, clearly end with winners and losers but can further anarchist theory and practice.
Often the collectible card games, board games, and video games we find socialize us to replicate or rationalize abusive behaviors and structures, so I won't focus on them. Certain games and forms of play possess elements with a lot of potential for anarchy. The specific games overall however may or may not.
-voluntarism; freedom to quit; refusal of coercion (e.g. sex)
-testing ground for balancing autonomy with consent, consensus, unanimity (e.g. playground games)
-mutual pleasure possibilities & sharing (e.g. certain forms of "Lovefeast")
-cooperation (e.g. taking turns in the "Double Dutch" jump rope game, "Wildcraft: an Herbal Adventure Game")
-enemy-identification (e.g. "State of Emergency" video game)
-teambuilding (e.g. trust fall games)
-role reversal, egalitarianism, destruction of hierarchies (e.g. the Mbuti's gender-fuck rope game)
-intimacy & social networking (e.g. the "Hot Tub" game & icebreaker games)
-information spread & acculturation (e.g. "Apothecary: a Card Game of Herbal Medicine")
-skill development (e.g. native children building mock villages resembling their community dwellings)
-productive play (e.g. a scavenger hunt)
-diversity without hierarchy (make-believe games)
-leaderlessness (e.g. kick the can, Calvinball)
-strategy (Go, capture the flag, hide-and-seek)
-recirculation of materials (e.g. traditional games of chance by dice)
-settling disputes (e.g. duels)
-creative spontaneity (e.g. live-action role-playing games)
-imagination, inspiration, intuition, instinct (e.g. word association games)
-flexibility of genre (e.g. jokes, tall tales, ghost stories, fantasy epics)
1. "The Abolition of Work" by Bob Black. http://deoxy.org/endwork.htm
2. Stirner, in "Stirner's Critics": “Perhaps at this very moment, some children have come together just outside [Hess’s] window in a friendly game. If he looks at them, he will see a playful egoistic union. Perhaps Hess has a friend or a beloved; then he knows how one heart finds another, as their two hearts unite egoistically to delight (enjoy) each other, and how no one ‘comes up short’ in this. Perhaps he meets a few good friends on the street and they ask him to accompany them to a tavern for wine; does he go along as a favor to them, or does he ‘unite’ with them because it promises pleasure?”
3. "Play as the Foundation of Hunter-Gatherer Social Existence". http://www.journalofplay.org/issues/28/76-play-foundation-hunter-gatherer-social-existence
4. Turnbull, Colin M., “The Mbuti Pygmies. Change and Adaption.” Philadelphia: Harcourt Brace College Publishers, 1983.