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Far from being frivolous, games have always had distinct cultural purposes. Games have been an important pastime for adults and children alike, providing intellectual challenges and entertaining practice in analysis and strategy. Children have been encouraged to indulge in games and other forms of play as a means of improving their general education.

But games can fulfill negative and well as positive social functions.  For instance, games were often thought to improve work ethics, provide moral instruction and even instill social and cultural values. On the other hand, games have also promoted cultural, racial and gender stereotypes. And while games promise to develop particular skills, such as the crafting of strategy (as in chess), manual dexterity, deductive reasoning, and memory for detail, they have also taught negative lessons through gambling and risk-taking.

We might think of games as charming historical artifacts, but they are also telling reflections of social values and mores.

 
 


 

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