An Aside – Checking Book References Online

One of the things I meant to mention in the previous post when I referenced a famous quote from Johan Huizinga’s Home Ludens (“Play is a voluntary activity…”) was how to view this quote in its original context using services such as the online Google Books service. (I’ve actualy done this “in context” in one of the comments to that post, with a link to Live book search.)


This passage is is quite widely cited in a range of other books on the subject of game theory. If you click on the Popular Passages link, you can gain access to references to some of those books that have cited (that is, quoted and referenced) Huizinga’s view:


Microsoft’s rival service – Live book search – – also allows you to search within books for that famous quote, although you do need to log in to see the quote in context to comply with copyright licensing matters…

I’ll have bit more to say about copyright, and its enforcement using digital rights management in the computer games industry, in the next week or two…

There are two three (!) main reasons I wanted to bring your attention to these services (and I guess I should add a third, the Amazon’s Search Inside this Book service, to the list, too).

Firstly, they demonstrate how the interface provides an interactive way of searching the full text of a book whilst online. (Note that not all books have been digitised yet, and copyright reasons mean that you can’t necessarily see all the content of those that have been, but the trends would seem to indicate that the content of books can increasingly be googled!)

Secondly, they are something you can play with, which leads back to the question of just what a game is, and in particular what’s its relationship with “play” is….

(If nothing else, I’d like to try to get you think about how having a playful attitude can often help drive a positive learning attitude to a particular problem, such as learning how to make the most of new technology…)

Thirdly, they provide a way in to finding out more about what people have had say about the notion of games through the book literature.

If any of the books take your fancy, be warned – many of the academic publications can be quite expensive. However, you might be able to find them in a library near you using a service such as WorldCat. For example, here’s a WorldCat library book search around Milton Keynes for a copy of Huizinga’s book:


Okay, that’s enough of that aside… (unless you can think of a WorldCat game we could play, such as a booksearch-cum-treasure hunt involving a hunt across UK libraries for a set of books that all cross reference each other, perhaps?! ;-)

If you haven’t already done so, watch the first part of the interactive tutorial on “Understanding Games”.

As you do so, ask yourself the questions what does the character identify as the key features a game must have? and how is the publishing medium itself (i.e. the animation) being used to communicate the message it contains?.

I’ll post my answers to those questions tomorrow, along with the first Game Maker tutorial…


3 Responses to “An Aside – Checking Book References Online”

  1. 1 Giselle Ferreira March 6, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Thanks a lot for this, it’s given me some ideas – just this morning I was pondering on exactly this same thing as I was writing a post filled with links to the Google book service (scary URLs!) and was thinking if it’s possible to highlight the exact bits you’re referring to (from someone who still likes books, wherever they are :-)

  2. 2 Tony Hirst March 6, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    I actually posted something about this over on my other blog a few weeks ago: “Quoting from Books Using Embedded Quotes” ( )

    If the book is out of copyright (that is, ‘in the public domain’), then you can link directly to a quote within Google books.

    It would be handy if this was even more generally true (e.g. for all books), maybe using something link an ‘Amazon Link Inside’ or ‘Live Book Search Quote Inside’ service!

  3. 3 Giselle Ferreira March 7, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Thanks, T, that’s very useful (as I said, I’m slowly catching up :-)

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