What Matters in Macao

Situating the Game in the More-than-Human City


  • Rick Dolphijn Utrecht University




Macao, Punto Banco, Play, Architectural theory, New Babylon


In contrast to the dominant ideas of how 'game and play' work, which I label 'transcendentalist' and 'sedentary',  my study on Macao proposes an alternative, 'materialist' and 'nomadic', perspective. This comes down to thinking 'game and play' not as an 'artificial' activity that takes place in a safe, enclosed environment, but as an elementary part of life, crucial to how imagination works, and to how imagination  is entangled in the materiality of the urban sphere. After mapping an alternative history of how to think 'game and play' differently, working with anthropologist Karl Goos, architect Aldo van Eyk, artist Constant, and in the end philosopher Gilles Deleuze, I engage with the city of Macao, its architecture, its politics, and its gambling practices. I use fiction authors Leslie T Chang and Louis Borges to show, finally, how Macao, in contemporary China, equals the infinite game of chance, materialized; the much needed other in its contemporary urban landscape. 

Author Biography

Rick Dolphijn, Utrecht University

Rick Dolphijn is Associate Professor of Media and Culture at Utrecht University (the Netherlands), and Honorary Professor at Comparative Literature, University of Hong Kong (PRC). His books include Foodscapes  (Eburon/University of Chicago Press 2004), New Materialism: Interviews and Cartographies (Open Humanities Press 2012, with Iris van der Tuin). He edited (with Rosi Braidotti) This Deleuzian Century: Art, Activism, Life (Brill/Rodopi 2014/5) and Philosophy after Nature (2017), and most recently Michel Serres and the Crises of the Contemporary (Bloomsbury Academic 2019/20). His new monography, The Philosophy of Matter: a Meditation, recently appeared with Bloomsbury Academic.




How to Cite

Dolphijn, R. (2022). What Matters in Macao: Situating the Game in the More-than-Human City. Critical Gambling Studies, 3(2), 145–151. https://doi.org/10.29173/cgs53