Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society

Encyclopedia of Play in Today's Society

Encyclopedia of Play in Today’s Society is a two-volume book that offers over 450 entries about play. Written by 130 authors from 22 countries, the book was published in 2009 by SAGE Publications, Inc. It was edited by Dr. Rodney P. Carlisle, an author and historian who taught for more than 30 years at Rutgers University.

The study of play has produced an extensive volume of research and literature that has explored the concept of play throughout the world in many diverse cultures historically and in modern society today. This two-volume set contains a wide variety of topics including the leisure and recreational activities of children and adults throughout history as well as specific games, toys, and amateur sports they enjoy. Analyses of social thinkers such as Johan Huizinga, Lev Vygotsky, and Brian Sutton-Smith on the subject of play are also included.

The topics in the encyclopedia are listed alphabetically with most listings concluding with cross-references to related listings found in the encyclopedia and a bibliography suggesting further reading on the subject. A Resource Guide is found at the end of the second volume that contains lists of books, journals, and internet websites for further study of play, games, toys, and organizations associated with play and leisure. Both volumes contain an extensive glossary of terms found in the encyclopedia.

A Reader’s Guide is given in the front of each volume categorizing the encyclopedia’s listings in appropriate themes to aid the reader in discovering the contents. The eleven themes are listed alphabetically:

  • Adult Games includes listings such as Billiards, Bowling, Hobbies, and Parlor Games.
  • Board and Card Games includes listings about board games such as Checkers, Chess, and Monopoly, and card games, such as Cribbage, Hearts, Old Maid, and Rummy.
  • Children’s Games includes listings such as Blind Man’s Bluff, Clapping Games, Marbles, and Tag.
  • History of Play includes listings about ancient cultures as well as play in Europe from the 1200s to present time, and in the United States from the colonial period to present day.
  • Outdoor Games and Amateur Sports includes listings such as Baseball, Basketball, Croquet, Dodgeball, and Skateboarding.
  • Play and Education includes listings such as Academic Learning and Play, Montessori, Play in the Classroom, and Recess.
  • Play Around the World includes over 90 listings of play in individual countries and areas of the world.
  • Psychology of Play includes listings that explore Boys’ Play, Girls’ Play, Pretending, and Role-Playing, as well as listings describing the work of play theorists Huizinga, Piaget, Sutton-Smith, and Vygotsky.
  • Sociology of Play includes listings such as Cooperative Play, Game Theory, and the Sociological Benefits of Play.
  • Toys and Business includes listings about individual toys such as G.I. Joe, LEGOs, and Yo-Yos as well as toy companies such as Fisher-Price, Hasbro, Lionel, and Parker Brothers.
  • Video and Online Games includes listings such as Age of Empire, Mario, Sim City, and Tetris.

A Chronology of Play highlights the early indications of play, games, and toys from 30,000 B.C.E. throughout the early cultures with entries that culminate in the year 2008. The origins of many games are found to have been developed similarly in different parts of the world. The invention dates of particular toys are listed with the year they were introduced.

Volume 2 contains a detailed Index for the entire encyclopedia as well as the results of two studies. Appendix A reports the findings of a poll conducted in 2008 with 1,010 adults about their leisure activities along with the collection of data shown in charts and tables. Appendix B contains the Federal Trade Commission’s report to Congress entitled Marketing Violent Entertainment to Children, A Fifth Follow-up Review of Industry Practices in the Motion Picture, Music Recording & Electronic Game Industries dated April 2007.1

  • 1. Carlisle, Rodney P. Encyclopedia of Play in Today’s Society. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAFE Publications, Inc. 2009.