On 2015-07-12, E. Torner wrote:
"What are games without objects like to play...?"
Let me get nerdy with this for a second. Feel free to ignore!
This sounds like the border between "allotelic" (motivated by some predetermined outside force) and "autotelic" (motivated by players alone) play, as discussed by this guy Jan Klabbers (The Magic Circle, 2009).
Allotelic play is, I dunno, playing professional football. Autotelic play is a pickup game of bloody knuckles. The object of the former is so obvious that it hurts, whereas the object of the latter is pretty opaque to us, and much more has to do with the metamotivational states of the players involved.
Well, you've got your telic mindset, which is when players come in with a goal-driven, serious mindset: I've got to play this game to survive. And then your paratelic mindset, which is classic playfulness, or as Jaakko Stenros puts it: "emphasis on immediate gratification, fun, emphasis on process, passion, spontaneity, freedom, willingness to experiment, disposition towards make-believe, and the tendency to prolong the activity if possible."
You can write games for all kinds of ideals! You can force people to play Dungeons & Dragons at gunpoint (allotelic play, telic mindset), and you can give them a bunch of crayons and say "If you'd like, make a game from these. Or whatever." (autotelic play, paratelic mindset).
The objects of games afford and interact with the states of play and playfulness of their players. (That's a tongue-twister.)
Anyway, this can all be found in Jaakko Stenros's dissertation "Playfulness, Play and Games," which I highly recommend: