Oblectation: How Do Your People Enjoy Life?

Stopping by for the first time for the A-Z Challenge? Read a short intro to the A-Zs of Worldbuilding here!

I have another post up at the Ferret blog today, as well! Hop on over there to read all about Choosing the Best Opening Scene for Your Story!


O is for Oblectation (Enjoyment; Pleasure)
O is for Oblectation (Enjoyment; Pleasure)

I’m going to warn you now – this post is a long one. Grab a cup of something, pull up a chair, and settle in!

Oblectation, according to The Phrontistery means:
enjoyment; pleasure

Where there are people, there will be recreation. How much recreation depends on their lifestyles, because their lifestyles affect their wealth, and their finances dictate how much they can have other people do for them, and how much they have to do themselves. 

Some of it will also be affected by the level of technology available – how much can machines do for people? Then, of course, there’s always the matter of who can afford those machines anyway.

However, we could speculate over that all day. So we’re going to move on!

Forms of Recreation


Games teach skills. They may not always be the wisest of skills to hone, but when something is fun it’s more likely to be memorable.

Children’s Games

These are simple games often created to make mundane chores something enjoyable.

Anything can be made into a contest.

  • Who can pull the most weeds the fastest?
  • Who can find the most eggs? (From hens, not for Easter.)
  • Who can milk the most cows?

Another game I remember from my childhood was learning the waltz while folding sheets.

There are also games for wearing off children’s excess energy, or for teaching them manners and other skills.

  • Red Rover (This was such a dangerous game. But so much fun.)
  • Tag
  • Hide ‘n Seek
  • The Quiet Game
  • “Mother May I?”
Adult Games

Games for adults usually require more refined skill than children’s games, but not always, and the skills practiced and developed are sometimes more sinister.

Games of Chance

Games of chance are unpredictable (we’re not going to deliberate statistics here), unless one cheats, and usually rely on the skill of bluffing.

  • Card games – not solitaire, but anything where your betting against another person’s dealt hand, etc.
  • Dice games
  • Betting on other games/events
Games to Display Physical Prowess

In any society where fitness or the ability to perform manual labor is prized, recreation and games will arise out of that.

These games may be just for fun, or they may have higher stakes – even up to a fight to the death.

  • Wrestling
  • Rodeo (more common in societies where people deal with livestock for their livelihood)
  • Fencing (more common in societies that place great emphasis on swordsmanship)
  • Running
  • Tournaments

Tournaments don’t have to be jousting, they can really be pitting several different sets of people against each other multiple times until a sole victor remains. It can be adapted to any game, but is more likely to be made a great deal over in cases of games of physical prowess. Think about the Olympics.

Logic & Puzzle Games

Games that exercise the mind have always been a part of society and culture. They are especially prized among those who need to think strategically often – whether it’s plotting the next war, or the next marriage.

  • Chess
  • Sudoku
  • Riddles

Chess is an ancient game, so it’s not hard to think that there might be a similar game in your fictional world that has remained largely unchanged for centuries.

Stories: The Stuff of Legends & History

Oral tradition is a fascinating thing to study – and many times, especially before a written language is widespread, it will become the recreation of a community. Later, the stories may be written down, but ultimately many of them will be lost.

I had the privilege in high school of seeing the performance of an Irish storyteller for a St. Patrick’s Day event, and I can tell you there’s nothing like hearing old stories the way they were originally shared. It is a very visceral, memorable moment.

How are stories passed on in your current timeline?
  • Plays?
  • Books?
  • Oral Tradition?
  • All of the above?
  • None of the above? (Think Avatar – yes, the James Cameron one. Memories were shared through that tree-thing.)

What is the most well-known story?

What stories does everyone know?
  • What historical stories?
  • What moral stories? (Think Aesop’s Fables.)
  • What just-for-fun stories?


Celebrations accomplish two things: they keep the morale of a community up, and they help people bond with each other. That bond is important at time of crisis, whether it is famine, drought, plague, or war, or any of the numerous other calamities that can befall a society.

What types of events warrant celebration?
  • Spring planting
  • The first harvest
  • The first rain
  • The beginning of each season (solstice & equinox)
  • Birthdays
  • Betrothals
  • Marriages
What holidays are celebrated?
  • Religious – more on this in a later post.
  • Civil – anything that commemorates an occasion that was beneficial for the people. IE: Independence Day.
  • Memorial – usually commemorating an event, usually involving a selfless act that cost someone something precious.

Other Forms of Recreation


Attending Lectures


To Sum It Up…

Almost every facet of life is affected by how much enjoyment or pleasure can be derived from it. Pleasure is secondary only to survival.

Image used in header is by PgmJanssen, public domain.

My intention is to turn the A-Zs of Worldbuilding into a workbook after the Challenge is finished. If you’d like to stay notified about that, you can subscribe to my newsletter here. Please make sure and select the A-Zs of Worldbuilding option!

Recent Comments

  • andrewknighton
    April 17, 2014 - 2:02 am · Reply

    Looking at this list, I realised how often I default to using the games and pass-times of our world, even when building a fantasy setting. They’re something that can add depth and richness to a setting, and yet I tend towards the mundane. I’m going to have a go at using your list to help me develop fantastic alternatives, and see where that takes me.

    • Rebekah Loper
      April 17, 2014 - 10:05 am · Reply


      Fantasy does need some things grounded in what we’re familiar with, so we can relate to the world and the characters, but sometimes all we need to do is tweak something a little. Who knows, maybe the card game they’re playing was once identical to what we call poker, and then someone upped the stakes just a bit…

      It’s all about ‘what if?’ 😉

  • MAJK
    April 17, 2014 - 2:09 am · Reply


    No, really! That is an amazing word and I have never heard it before. Also this is a very important piece of world building that I really notice when I am reading. it says a lot about a character to me as to what they spend their free time doing. I have a mage whose favorite past time is goo liquor and charming women off their feet… just because he can. Too often I read about a character and think… but what do they do when they are NOT the center of the action.

    A-to-Z Challenge 2014
    Mighty Minion of Co-Host Nicole Ayers
    @Safireblade on Twitter

    • Rebekah Loper
      April 17, 2014 - 10:10 am · Reply

      I loved Red Rover. Even though I’m pretty sure some friends ended up with broken bones from the game XD. Never when I played, of course.

      Seeing pictures of actual Quidditch teams cracks me up. I think it’s fabulous, but I just can’t stop giggling over it…

  • Lissa Clouser
    April 20, 2014 - 6:59 pm · Reply

    I like how attending lectures and sex are side-by-side. (Yes, I know that means nothing, but I’m going to giggle at it anyway!!)

    Also, good GRIEF woman, how does your brain store all these questions and actually sort them out? O.o

Trackbacks and Pingbacks

What do you think?

About Rebekah

Rebekah Loper writes character-driven epic fantasy featuring resilient women in trying and impossible circumstances who just want to save themselves but usually end up saving the world, often while falling in love.
She lives in Tulsa, OK with her husband, dog, two formerly feral cats, a small flock of feathered dragons (...chickens. They're chickens), and an extensive tea collection. When she's not writing, she battles the Oklahoma elements in an effort to create a productive, permaculture urban homestead.