Chomsky on games

I'm speculating, obviously, but it seems to me reasonable to suppose that games are designed to be, in a sense, at the outer limits of our cognitive capacities. We don't make up games in which we are as skilled as we are in the normal use of language. That wouldn't be an interesting game. Everybody could do too much! What we do is make up games like chess, which is an extraordinarily simple game - its rule system is utterly trivial. Yet, even so, we're not very good at it. In using language we're all extraordinarily good, and we're essentially undifferentiable one from another over quite a substantial range, but when it comes to something like chess - which I assume is at the borders of our cognitive capacities - individuals of very similar make-up will diverge significantly in their ability to deal with its problems.

Noam Chomsky, interviewed by Bryan Magee in Talking Philosophy, a collection of interviews recorded in the mid seventies for a BBC TV series. I now have to investigate the seventeenth century British neoplatonists.