Posted by: Stenros | August 17, 2009

Marx, Debord, Wells and Duchamp

Duchamp plays chess

I’m putting together a lecture on the histories of role-playing games. While checking my facts and looking for pictures I have, as always, found myself lost in Wikipedia. In an article about the history of role-playing games, there is the following tidbit about Harpo Marx:

There is some evidence that assassin-style games may have been played in New York city by adults as early as 1920. A simple version in which an assassination was performed by saying, “You’re dead,” was mentioned in Harpo Marx’s autobiography, Harpo Speaks!, in a section covering the 1920s.

This stopped me in my tracks. It certainly sounds like a pervasive game. Does anyone have that book within an arm’s reach? Or do I need to go to the library? I really want to check out that section.

Also, though I knew that H.G. Wells was a game designer and Marcel Duchamp abandoned the art world for chess (I love the picture above, also stolen from Wikipedia), I did not know that in the late 70′s Situationist Guy Debord founded the company Strategic and Historical Games and then published Kriegspiel (note, spelt with just one s). He also wrote a book about it.

What other artists have been involved with games?


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