The Dutch essayist Johan Huizinga in his work “Homo Ludens” (1938) argues that four are the game’s essential characteristics.
1) The freedom of the subject which starts playing. Play is a free act, which takes place only because it brings joy.
2) The game does not represent real life. When he plays, the child knows that he is playing as a joke, it is a pretense, but he does it all the same with great seriousness.
3) The game is limited in time and space.
4) The game takes you to another dimension, which is in the most intimate part of man.
The game is not a purely infantile activity but rather an inherent need in adults of all ages who feel the need to engage in specific exercises that are friendly to their personality and meet specific needs of competitiveness and escape necessary for their psychic and physical balance.
Since ancient times, children have had numerous play opportunities related to outdoor life and the use of readily available materials in the environment (stones, pieces of wood, scraps of cloth). It is interesting to note that all over the world, the most basic games are very similar to each other and bring together children of different ethnicities and languages.
The archaeological discoveries have shown that the first natural toys and reproduced their weapons and plows (to symbolize the two main activities of ancient populations, agriculture and war), or everyday objects, made in miniature and also form rudimentary.
The Senet is one of the oldest games of which we have news. It is a board game; its history begins in Ancient Egypt and is testified by numerous archaeological finds.
The toy had a vital value: males and females learn about their roles. There are games that males and females played together, such as playing ball, knucklebone, and spinning top, but there were others that marked the distinction between the two sexes; girls were given kitchen utensils or dolls with furnishings and accessories, while boys were given hoops, carts and tin soldiers (universally known by Romans, Etruscans, Greeks, and Egyptians).
The game in history – sent the game in history
It did not change much compared to past centuries; the children always had marbles, hoops, sticks, clubs, and balls at their disposal. But the game had another function, that of influencing the fate and social position of the child: to the future priest the miniature altar or small liturgical objects, to the military the lead or terracotta soldiers or small cannons, wooden swords; girls, on the other hand, who had to prepare for married life, were given spindles to spin, dishes and utensils for cooking, but above all dolls to dream of the role of mother. For those preparing for the way to the convent, the doll was also dressed appropriately.
Only in the Renaissance did a real leap in quality occur concerning the toy. The first known doll factories appear in the 15th century in Germany, in Nuremberg, where guilds of master artisans specialized in woodworking had already been formed at the end of the 1300s.
With his book “Thoughts on Education” of 1693, Locke was the first to encourage children’s curiosity, considering it an essential learning source. “L’Emile” by JJ Rousseau emphasizes the aspect of play as a source of joy, the best stimulus for the child’s activity.
Towards the second half of the 18th century, a shift towards a more significant expansion of toy manufacturing took place. The distribution took place through street vendors, in fairs, and in specialized shops, which, in addition to traditional toys, began to offer card games, bingo, goose games, abecedarian, printed images with childish images. Games that stemmed from the great inventions of the century, such as magic lanterns, also began to appear, who used the laws of optics to project images, and ingenious animated toys; in 1701, a doll was sold in England that could roll its eyes and cry.
The game in history among the ‘800 and 900 the thought of Dewey, the Montessori, and Piaget will mark the final breakthrough of play as a fundamental component of child development.
In nineteenth-century society, the toy became more and more critical, especially in France, England, and Germany factories were born to produce toys in series, divided according to class, age, and sex.
Tin toys were particularly successful because, in addition to the precision in the artistry and the search for elegance in the shapes, they reproduced the great mechanical inventions. Trains, cars, and ships were built; clowns and animals with straightforward automatic movements were also created.
The toy industry had an overpowering impact on the economy of the producing countries, but Italy started its production late; for wooden toys, the first industry seems to have been born in Asiago in 1885, while the first toy and doll industry was the Furga di Canneto sull’Oglio (Mantua) in 1872.
The National Automatic Toys Industry of Padua, born in 1919, produced automatic toys such as the spring train, airplanes, tanks with flint sparks, and even animated puppets like Pinocchio until 1972.
As for electric trains, one of the most famous Italian brands is Lima (Lavorazione Italiana Metalli e Affini), founded in Vicenza in 1946 and specialized in the repair and construction of aluminum parts of railway carriages damaged during the war and subsequently converted to the production of metal toys. The game nowadays is always a need for everyone, but it has taken on other characteristics with the development of technology.