On playing games

So I filled out my philosophy sheet for TFA state today, and it reminded me of something that has always irked me a little: paradigms.

Whenever I'm asked to pick my paradigm out of the usual list I cringe just a little bit. My first instinct is to put down "none/other," but that contradicts my usual imperative to give as much information in these philosophy packets as possible. Do unto others and such. But then I read down the list and all the choices carry some philosophical baggage that I'm not comfortable with:

Stock Issues: I am 100 years old and disads scare me.
Hypothesis Tester: I am 75 years old and topical counterplans scare me more than counterwarrants do.
Policy Maker I am 50 years old and kritiks scare me.
Tabula Rasa: I have a well-defined set of predispositions and thoughts about how debate should be, I just don't want to tell you about them. Neener.

...and then we get to Games Player. First of all, it's factually inaccurate. I'm not a games player I'm a games judge, stupid. It also has a sort of sneaky connotation: "games" in a "quit playing games with my heart" sort of way. Games-playing is dishonorable, especially compared to making policy and testing hypotheses.

But the biggest problem with the "Games player" paradigm is that it's totally vacuous. Debate is a game. People play it. Really?

Of course debate is a game. Policy makers and hypothesis testers agree with that too! What makes the games player different? And here's where I start to like the game's playing paradigm - no need for a silly analogy to make debate seem more important. And I really do mean a silly analogy. Hypothesis testers agree that a decision ought be rendered even in the case of inconclusive evidence, and policy makers would agree that we shouldn't vote for the best looking or best-funded team, even though these would be more "real world" in terms of actual policymaking. The other paradigms agree that debate is a game most of the time, except when it needs to be molded to fit some arbitrary analogy. Games players just don't have any such restrictions.

Debate is the greatest game I've ever had the privilege to play, and I'm proud to say that yes, debate is a game.

I just wish we could come up with a better term than "games player." How about "debate judge?"

1 comment:

Duck said...

Ryan, I lost ur email, can you send one to me. danlittle@yahoo.com

k,thnx,bye. :-)