Games and Play

Games and Play: On Being Human in the Universe of Technical Images, 57-66 IN Understanding Flusser, Understanding Modernism, Aaron Jaffe, Michael F. Mills, Rodrigo Martini, eds., London, New York and Dublin: Bloomsbury, 2022.

                                                     To see the world as a set of games, and to see it as a  

                                                     player who knows he is playing, is to see aesthetically.  

                                                                                                       Vilém Flusser, 1969

“This discovery was like a rupture of dams,” Flusser wrote of his recognition of games as a means of integrating his diverse thoughts about communication.  Writing in an autobiographical essay from 1969, he describes the experience as an event in the recent past that he expects to shape his thinking into the foreseeable future:

Suddenly, I saw a whole new field of action extending before me: the field of critique and translation between games…in fact, critique as transcendence of games, that is, critique as metalanguage.[1] The problem thus stated made the odd pieces of my previous phases fall into a pattern that, with discipline and imagination, might form a whole in the future.[2]

A contemporary reader might well wonder how a potential unity among such apparently disparate concepts — games, critique, translation, “metalanguage” — could have appeared so abruptly, so clearly.  The passage does not indicate any particular curiosity about the phenomenon “games” as such.  Rather it speaks of games as a means to an end, a clearing away of obstructions to the accomplishment of a project already well underway.  To put it differently, the passage suggests a turning point in the development of an artistic or architectural practice rather than a scientist’s program of observation or experimentation. A reader is left wondering about the questions to which “games” offered such an exciting answer. At one level Flusser, having focussed on language in all his previous work, makes this very clear: “I was looking for a way out into nonlanguage within the loops and tissue of language.”[3] And yet the statement begs any number of additional questions:  what had changed to make language seem unacceptably limited?   What would the alternative do that language cannot? How do games provide an escape from language? What is so desirable about the eventual pattern being “whole”?

Among the “odd pieces of my previous phases” would certainly have been Wittgenstein’s well-known characterization of language as a game and Johan Huizinga’s study of play as a critical force in the development of human culture — more on this below.  Flusser had studied formal logic with Leonidas Hegenberg, among the most prominent professors of the discipline in Brazil; he had listened to — and often refuted — his friend Vincente Ferreira da Silva enthusiastically welcoming new technology, specifically communications technology.  But it was his relatively recent encounter with decision theory and games theory[4] that seems to have produced the “rupture of dams”. Created to model human economic behaviour (and open prospects for controlling it), games theory generates mathematical models of decision-making among groups, human or not.  Flusser’s established sympathies with such thinkers as Wittgenstein and Huizinga would suddenly have come into view against the prospect that aspects of human cognition could soon be automated.

Perhaps not coincidentally, “In Search of Meaning” was first written in English, Flusser’s third language[5].  Elsewhere, he describes being drawn to one his four languages by the particular thought he wanted to express — although the reasons were not always clear even to him.[6] Perhaps the attraction of English in this case concerned the clear distinction that can be made between “games” and “play” (in German and French, the words for “game” and “play” are the same; in Portuguese, there are two words for play, but they divide along different lines.)  Or, if he had been familiar with recent research on play as an activity that cuts across logical levels (Russell) of communication, that is, with Gregory Bateson’s work, he could have been drawn to the language in which it was published.[7]  A more focussed discussion of games and play followed the paper Bateson read at the Macy Group Processes Conference for 1955, “The Message ‘This is Play’”.[8]  The discussion hovered around an idea of “games” as comparatively stable structures, and “play” as a means of subverting, reinventing, changing them. One of the participants, the anthropologist Ray Birtwhistell, offered a strong conclusion: “At this point, if we were trying to make a definition of play, I would almost be willing to eliminate games as such from play, and state that those things which are games are not play.” But, the participants continued, can there be games without play, or play without games?

Flusser invariably discussed games as objects, seen from the outside, a space for definitions and categorization.  He usually described play, by contrast, from the inside — the position of the player.  Loosely, over various appearances of the pair in various texts, it can seem that Flusser treats a “game” as a thing — a noun — and “play” as a verb, ordinarily used in its intransitive form.  This is, however, one of at least two significantly different understandings the relationship between the games and play that appear in his writing.  The first, more familiar, forms the background against which the new one, characteristic of telematic society, comes into view.  There is a particularly memorable example in a chapter entitled “To Create,” in Into the Universe of Technical Images[9]: two people are absorbed in a game of chess, following its time-honoured rules in the expectation that it will conclude with one winner and one loser.  In this case, however, “unpredictable, improbable, exciting situations (i.e., informative situations)” arise. Both players lose interest in winning or losing and begin to think, together, about the implications of the new situation. No longer opponents bound by the discursive structure of the game, they start to speak and listen to one another freely, dialogically, playfully.  Both come away with something new.

By the time he was writing about “a rupture of dams” in 1969, Flusser had already published “Games,”[10] a very short essay outlining a new way of understanding communication itself as an infinity of games.  It begins, significantly, not with a definition of the term – although there is one — but with a reflection on the best way to characterize human beings. Flusser offers a series of possibilities likely to be familiar to his reader — homo sapiens or homo faber or animal laborans— but he settles on homo ludens. In sharing his the reasons for the choice he the sets out the essay’s main purpose: the other terms designate ways human beings differ from animals, but he intends to identify human beings “in comparison to their own apparatuses.”[11] Since apparatuses, too, can be creative, reflective or purposeful, he writes, the first three terms do not suit his purpose.  Homo ludens may not be the only animal capable of playing.  He is, however, the one who needs this capacity to distinguish himself from apparatuses.

The phrase homo ludens inevitably acknowledges Johan Huizinga’s ground-breaking study by that title from 1938[12].  Flusser clearly knew the work, having included it in a list of sources for a book manuscript from 1958 (never published).[13]  Huizinga’s book has since become a founding text in the new and rapidly expanding academic field of games studies. In this context it is widely used to furnish a definition of “play”: play is “not serious; utterly absorbing; not associated with material interest or profit; takes place in its own boundaries of time and space; proceeds according to rules; and creates social groups that separate themselves from the outside world.”[14] The authors of a prominent textbook in which the list appears go on to take issue with a few of the characteristics, notably the disassociation from profit, along with the absence of a clear statement about the relationship between “game” and “play”.  But as Peter McDonald has pointed out in a revealing study of Homo Ludens’s reception,[15] this use of Huzinga’s work constitutes an “overly formalist misreading.”  The sheer breadth of Huizinga’s study, embracing as it does law, war, philosophy, poetry, myth, art and more as forms of play, affected its many readers’ thinking whatever disagreements they may have had with the book’s conjectures and conclusions, and Flusser is unlikely to have been any exception. More specifically, McDonald proposes that Huizinga practiced a phenomenology of play, and that an overemphasis on the formal definition obscures one of the book’s key innovations, namely its insights into play from a player’s point of view. One nice example is Huizinga’s interest in play as fun, a judgement that can be made by players alone.  Homo Ludens describes the “play-spirit” as crucial to the possibility of fiction — the conscious construction of a world.  It recognises as aesthetic dimension.  All of these aspects of play appear in Flusser’s work as well.

By contrast to Huizuinga’s carefully assembled evidence bearing on a question about the role of play, however, Flusser simply installed play at the beginning of “Games” as a premise: “I will take human beings’ capacity for play to be their defining characteristic”.  The statement could almost be a paraphrase of the most famous sentence in Friedrich Schiller’s On the Aesthetic Education of Man: “man only plays when he is in the fullest sense of the word a human being, and he is only fully a human being when he plays.”[16] Schiller’s book, written a few years after the shocking violence of the French Revolution, describes human beings as subject to two fundamentally opposing drives — one toward rationality, and other toward sensuality.  In a healthy, happy person, these drives are in balance, each holding the other in check.  With reference to his own contemporary society, in which he found excesses of both kinds much in evidence, Schiller identified aesthetic experience — at this point bound up with the arts and widely understood as an appreciation of beauty — as the way to achieve balance. Aesthetic education then emerges as the crucial element in the development of creative and responsible citizens.  It seems most unlikely that Flusser would have been interested in innate drives or balanced personalities.  But Schiller assigns play a function that may have resonated deeply with Flusser’s own experience.  With the instincts of a phenomenologist before there was any such identity available, Schiller describes play from the standpoint of the player, the way a player feels, what the experience is like.  At such moments, he says, a player senses his own humanity.

From its opening reference to homo ludens, in any case, essay “Games” jumps to a formal description.  A game, Flusser writes, is “a system of elements that regularly combine”.  Elements may be words in a language, pieces on a chessboard, people bound together in any sort of system — the possibilities are unlimited.  Then comes a set of concepts that govern the way elements combine to constitute games:

The sum total of the elements is the game’s “repertoire”.  The sum total of the rules is the game’s “structure”.  The sum total of possible combinations from the repertoire within game’s structure is the game’s “competence”.  And the sum total of the combinations from the repertoire that have been realized is the game’s “universe”.[17]

The essay goes on to distinguish between open and closed games, that is, between games like chess, that have a fixed repertoire and structure, or games that gain and lose elements and have no fixed ending, such as language.  Open games are infinite, he writes, but not all-encompassing — each game has its specific competence and universe.

A reader gets a strong sense that this theory relies on particular sources, but there is no specific information about them.  Tracing Flusser’s sources is always difficult and never entirely certain.  Rainer Guldin has provided a general description of the way Flusser used sources, taking the specific example of Anatol Rapoport as evidence.[18] Among the many instances of Flusser’s borrowing, adapting, compressing or omitting aspects of Rapoport’s work, Guldin gives one particularly clear example. Rapoport is best-known for his work in game theory, having developed the concept and term “zero-sum” game.  This is a game in which one the gain among players is exactly equal to other players’ losses, resulting in zero.  Rapoport also recognized “non-zero-sum” games, in which an overall gain or loss might be sustained.  In “translating” Rapoport’s English terms into German, Flusser also adapted them to his own theory,  keeping “zero-sum game” and changing “non-zero-sum” to “plus-sum” game.[19]  Eventually he added a “minus-sum-game” as well, in reference to entropy — a term from quantum physics referring to the universe’s overall gradual loss of energy.  Almost as an aside, with no direct reference to Rapoport, Guldin remarks on the way Flusser’s theory of games adapts terminology from linguistics — “structure” and “repertoire” resembling syntax and semantics, competence and universe constituting established linguistic terms.[20]

 “Games” relies on just three examples — chess, language (he chose Portuguese), and the natural sciences — to extend the structure to virtually any kind of communication. A reader can hardly help but be startled by the sheer scope of the definition. If a system with the breadth and depth of a language or the highly abstract structures associated with natural science can be games, is there any kind of communication that is not?  Flusser’s answer is, in a word, no.  And this “no” separates him from almost everyone else who has written about games in any capacity.  For Flusser, there is no “outside” of games — Playing or being played, we are always engaged in some game — probably many simultaneously.  Without them there is no meaning at all.

As is often the case in Flusser’s essays, “Games” ends by repeating and resolving the question or issue set out in the beginning.  In this case, the conclusion quietly repeats the move from homo sapiens, homo faber, animal laborans to homo ludens.  Now the specie is distinguished by its capacity to open games, to expand or reduce repertoires, alter structures, criticise — in short, to play:

A human being as “homo ludens” is set apart from animals by the absence of seriousness.  Play is his answer to the stolid seriousness of life and death.  As a player he resists this stolidity.  And he becomes more of a rebel the more games he plays and the more he cheats.  He sets himself apart from the apparatuses he deceives in the course of his playing by means of his ability to open games.  In other words: he sets himself apart from computers, government regulations and other visible and invisible monsters by means of poetry, philosophy and translation. That is his hope.  As a subject of history, he may be liberated by these apparatuses.  But history itself is only a game, and he can find others.[21]

When the theoretical terms Flusser introduced in “Games” resurface in Flusser’s subsequent writing they refer broadly to the idea of infinitely many systems linking human beings meaningfully — if not always happily — together in some way.  More specifically, they refer to the possibility of the aesthetic experience of playing with those systems or, conversely, to a failure to realize that possibility, a falling back into a position of “being played”.  The term “game,” as it appears in Towards a Philosophy of Photography, for example, reminds the reader that the object in question has elements, a structure, a competence, and a universe, Most photographs and most photographers function in accordance with an established system — in the case of photography from design and marketing of cameras to education, exhibition, publishing and more.  But this same system may be criticized, expanded, or translated into other discourses in new ways.  In his published criticism of particular photographs and photographers, it is expressly the photographers who have recognized photography as a game and played with it who earn Flusser’s praise. In 1985, for example, he wrote an introduction to a catalogue of Joan Fontcuberta’s series “Herbarium,” an elaborate, and by now celebrated document recording the findings of a fictional botanist.  Flusser credits Fontcuberta with having been able to play with both photography and botanical illustration, providing himself and us with a new insight into both.[22]

In short, when Flusser identifies a communicative structure as a “game,” and this is as likely to be a discipline, a technology or a discourse as it is to be something like chess or football, he is calling attention to its status as given – fixed, right, “true”– and inviting a challenge to this status;  when he speaks of “play,” he is referring to the activity that follows the question “what if…” What if we changed the rules, say, added elements (e.g., inserted an elephant between the knight and rook in chess[23]), used one game to express information originally encoded for another?

*   *   *   *

Among the last essays Flusser wrote, “Digitaler Schein”[24] (“Schein” sounds like the English “shine” and might be translated as “semblance,” “appearance” or possibly “illusion”) addresses the phenomenon of “alternative worlds” that were just beginning to appear on computer screens at the time of writing. Anticipating that his readers would dismiss such worlds as empty and trivial simply because they were artificial, Flusser argues that on the contrary, since all meaning is constructed, alternative worlds are as “real” as any other and have just as much potential to generate meaning.  All are made up of whirling particles, and although at present the distribution of those particles tends to be much more dense in the world we have been given than they are in the alternative worlds, there is no technical reason the current imbalance should not gradually resolve into so many equally persuasive possibilities.  “Digitaler Schein” does not mention videogames.  He may have been thinking of something more like what we would call simulation software.  In any case he sees such worlds as sites where elite practitioners of an unprecedented kind of communication are establishing themselves, learning to operate the controls.

The reason he did not identify alternative worlds as games in this essay is, I think, is that the idea of a game was not of interest to Flusser if there was no possibility of playing — in the sense of experiencing one’s own humanity, and he found the new worlds inaccessible. The essay casts both author and readers as on-lookers, their noses pressed up against a glass through which they watch others “play” in, or with, the new alternative worlds. The “glass,” clearly, marks a boundary between those who write computer codes and those who do not.  In Into the Universe of Technical Images — and “universe” may now be understood as “the sum total of combinations” of technical images — Flusser further projected a future world in which reading and writing have become exotic skills and people lead their lives in synthesized environments, tapping keyboards with their fingertips, so engrossed in what they are doing that they forget to eat and sleep.[25]  A contemporary reader will surely think of MMORPGs (Massively Multi-player Online Role-Playing Games) such as World of Warcraft or Fortnite.

At the end of Does Writing have a Future?,  first published in 1987, Flusser had already expressed such sense of exclusion, of regretting that he was too old, too deeply and durably shaped by language and print to adapt to the new devices.[26]  Later, in “Digitaler Schein,” he reiterates his sense of exclusion, if anything with a more pointed effort to show us — readers of essays — that we are likely to be in the same position:

…just those few people who have left this [historical] consciousness behind, who no longer experience, recognize and value the world as a chain of events but as a toss of the dice, whose thinking is no longer progressive and enlightened, but futurological and system-analytical or “structural”, are producing the models the majority of people follow. They program advertising, films and political programs according to structural criteria, and cannot be called to account by those who are manipulated.[27]

They also design digital games, we might add.

To the extent what Flusser calls “alternative worlds” resemble contemporary videogames, we are obliged to respect his very clear and consistent distinction between “programmers” and “programmed”, or, to stay with his language, between games and the possibility of actually playing.  We are perhaps particularly constrained to respect his definition of the capacity for play as the feature that distinguishes human beings from their apparatuses.  In light of the astonishing recent expansion of the sheer numbers, diversity, subtlety, and popularity of computer games, along with proliferating claims for their value in helping users learn new skills, resolve old problems, and adapt to changes in their circumstances and identities, it may seem almost perverse to ask, in the interests of representing Flusser’s sense of games and play, who is really playing.

Some readers of this essay may agree that on-line video games seem alien, unapproachable: whatever they may be, they are not “fun”.  A few may further support Flusser’s contention that “the alternative worlds that are now forming in computers must be understood as designs of the ruling elite.” Flusser accepts, in fact welcomes the radical artificiality of such games, and sees no inherent limit to their potential to for engaging people in persuasive, attractive, satisfying, meaningful realities.  Only he can’t play.  Not only did he lack the technical skills to operate the game controls (He did not use a computer at all, not even a word processor.  He wrote on a manual typewriter), he also resisted the kind of thinking that can calculate and compute imaginary worlds.  He draws an analogy to the gradual implementation of writing into oral culture between 3500 B.C. and the early 19th-century, those centuries in which a literate elite could “program” an illiterate majority.

In his book Videogames, Identity and Digital Subjectivity,[28] Rob Gallagher lends support to the contention that “gamers” — loosely, people who invest a significant proportion of their time and energy in mastering and critiquing digital games — constitute an elite.  Drawing on Graeme Kirkpatrick’s study of gaming culture in the United Kingdom[29], Gallagher identifies gameplay as the key feature around which gamer culture coalesces:

In order to forge an image of “gamers” as “young, male and cool”, “subjects who appreciate gameplay and are good at it”, early gaming culture began to define itself in opposition to those who did not meet these criteria.  If this meant jokes at the expense of women and older people, it also meant striving to differentiate gamers from enthusiasts next to whose truly nerdy hobbies (hobbies like trainspotting, stamp collecting or tabletop gaming) digital gaming could be considered exciting and subversive.  More than that, though, it entailed mockery of insufficiently skilled would-be-gamers [who]… prize dazzling graphics or an absorbing plot over that ineffable but all-important criterion of compelling gameplay.[30]

To return to the criteria introduced in the example of the chess game above, gamers can and do play, in Flusser’s sense, when they step outside the game, play with it.  They may be critics — often outspoken, articulate and enthusiastic critics — of particular games or of tendencies or companies or particular designers.  Such criticism — invariably written — may feed back to the companies or designers in question and may have some impact on the digital world in question — or not. Some gamers meet outside the game as well. As in the earlier example of the chess game, their focus turns to one another.  In this context, “gameplay” furnishes an aesthetic framework in which individuals perceive beauty, elegance, satisfaction — or above all, fun — in a given game differently.  In differing, they act themselves out, align themselves with the aesthetic values that make them the specific human beings they are.

In his discovery, adaptation and projection of games, Flusser was playing.  That is to say, he was engaging  in games of mathematics, linguistics, anthropology, history, quantum theory, music, visual arts, and more, translating among them, criticizing and changing them without losing awareness that they are games, that is, without surrendering his freedom to participate whenever and for whatever reasons he might choose, and to abandon the game at will. He endorsed cheating, jumping between games, inventing new ones on the spot.  He encouraged others to do the same.  But, as he once put it, “without responsibility there is no freedom”[31].  The jumps and transformations and inventions are constrained by the need for meaning and a desire for the various pieces to “form a whole,” a constraint that can only be identified as aesthetic.

Flusser’s play with games seems in many ways to model what he calls, in his last book, a “project.”   Vom Sujekt zum Projekt [From Subjekt to Projekt][32] begins with the question “Are we really postmodern?”  It goes on to characterize the modern as a long shift in communicative codes — from alphabetic to numeric — a shift toward greater abstraction and precision, and from human subservience to God to a subservience to things–nature as the object of human knowledge. He marks the end of the modern as the point where there can be no further abstraction.  Minds and mountains, planets and people have all dissolved into whirling particles, and a subject is left without an object, with no sense of a relationship to the world. In the course of learning to calculate the world, however, human also beings learned to compute new ones.  Flusser, surely drawing on his own encounter with despair, speaks of a point where human beings can turn away from subjectivity and walk into the future as designers or artists, drafting, projecting worlds as they go, conferring rather than exposing meaning.  Flusser’s play with games may be a modest example of a project, relying as it does on alphabetic text, leaving readers to fill in much of the dialogue with other thinkers for themselves, making hardly any technical demands at all.  But he insists that when we have really accepted the absence of any accessible common “reality,” grasped the urgent need to generate meaning and begun to use technology to think and dream together, we will truly have become postmodern.

Unless otherwise noted, translations from German are mine.

[1] Flusser employs the prefix “meta” with regularity. One of Gregory Bateson’s innovations, it would have been relatively new in 1969, and its appearance here suggests that Flusser was familiar with Bateson’s work.

[2] Vilém Flusser (2002), “In Search of Meaning,” 197- 207 in Writings, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 205.

[3] ibid 205.

[4] The book acknowledged to have founded game theory as a mathematical discipline is Johan von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern’s Theory of Games and Economic Behavior, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1944.

[5] Flusser wrote for publication, in descending order of frequency, in German, Portuguese, English and French.

[6] Vilém Flusser (2012) “The Gesture of Writing,” 25-41 in “New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing 9:1 (March).

[7] Gregory Bateson (1972) [1955] “A Theory of Play and Fantasy,” 177-193 in Steps to an Ecology of Mind, New York: Ballantine.

[8] Bateson, Gregory, “The message ‘This is Play’”.  Group discussion, 145-241 in Transactions of the Second Conference on Group Processes, Bertram Schaffner, ed., Princeton: Josiah Macey Foundation, 1955.

[9] Vilém Flusser (2011) [1985] Into the Universe of Technical Images, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 100.

[10] Vilém Flusser, “Jogos,” O Estado de São Paulo, 1967, and ”Die Welt als Spiel,” Frankfurter Allgemeine, 1968.  The German text was reprinted as “Spiele” [Games] in Florian Rötzer, Ist das Leben ein Spiel? Berlin: Wilhelm Fink Verlag and the Vilém_Flusser_Archive, Universität der Künste, Berlin., 2013.

[11] ibid n.p..

[12] Johann Huizinga (1949) [1938] Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

[13] Vilém Flusser, Das Zwanzigste Jahrhundert. Versuch einer subjektiven Synthese [The Twentieth Century. Attempt at a Subjective Synthesis, unpublished typescript, Vilem_Flusser_Archiv, Berlin.

[14] Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman, Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, Cambridge and London: The MIT Press, 2004, 75.

[15] Peter McDonald (2019) “Homo Ludens: A Renewed Reading,” 247-267 in The American Journal of Play, 11:2, (Winter) 247.

[16] Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters, trans., eds. Elizabeth M. Wilkinson and L.A. Willoughby (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005 [1795]) “15th Letter,” 107.

[17] Flusser 2013,“Spiele,” n.p.

[18] Rainer Guldin “Vom Nullsummen- zum Plussummen Spiel: zur Bedeutung Anatol Rapoports in Vilém Flussers Spieltheorie,“ 87-111 in „Play it Again, Vilém! Medien und Spiel im Anschluß an Vilém Flusser, Marburg: Tectum Verlag, 2015.

[19] Guldin 2015 “Vom Nullsummen- 104-6, 108-9.

[20] ibid 101

[21] Flusser 2013 “Spiele” [Games] n.p.

[22] Vilém Flusser (1998) [1985] “Einführung “Herbarium” von Joan Fontcuberta, 113-116 in Standpunkte, Göttingen: European Photography.

[23] Flusser 2013 “Spiele” [Games], n.p.

[24] ___________ (2002) [1991] “Digitaler Schein,” 202-215 in Medienkultur, 3rd ed., Frankfurt/M: Fischer.

[25] _________ (2011) [1985] Into the Universe of Technical Images, 104.

[26] __________ (2011) [1987] Does Writing Have a Future? Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 157-161.

[27] Flusser 2002 “Digitaler Schein,” 207.

[28] Rob Gallagher (2017) Videogames, Identity and Digital Subjectivity, London: Routledge.

[29] Graeme Kirkpatrick (2012) “Constitutive Tensions of Gaming’s Field: UK Gaming Magazines and the Formation of Gaming Culture 1981-1995,” Game Studies 12 (1). Accessed 7 October 2019.

[30] Gallagher 2017, Videogames, 9.

[31] Vilém Flusser (2011) [1991] Gestures, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 136.

[32] Vilém Flusser (1994) Vom Subjekt zum Projekt [From Subjekt to Project], Bensheim and Düsseldorf: Bollmann Verlag.