Games are undoubtedly, an important socializing agent throughout the whole life cycle, as there are children´s games, youngster´s games and games for adults, however, they are determining in the development of the young child.
From the first year of life, children start playing games on their own, games that help them improve their body coordination and broaden their knowledge of adult world by developing new abilities and through behaviour imitation. This is what G.H.Mead described as learning to adopt someone else´s role. Young children, following the evolution proposed by Mildred Parten, start off with independent and solitary games. They evolve by copying what others do: games of parallel activity. Towards the age of three more or less, they manage to coordinate their behaviour with those of others in associative games. Later, around age four, they perform activities that require each child to collaborate with another: cooperative games. Likewise, by he age of five, the child who through playing games has learned discipline and autoregulation, is relatively autonomous.
There are many classifications proposed for the study of traditional games. One of the most evident is based on the participant´s age: young children games (those which adults show children to play by interacting with him); children and youngster games (those that they play autonomously; rhythmic, mobility games and those in interaction with the environment, in general); adult games, associated with leisure and entertainment. Anthropology also suggested a classification related with the structure of games: the organized ones as opposing to the chaotic ones. And sociology insists on a classification based on the differences of gender: mixed games, singularly fememine games and those that are played for the most part by one of the genders.
The groups Etniker, in their Atlas on traditional games which is based on the Barandiarán questionnaire, propose a complete repertoire of young children games: relating to early years, to nature, to races, to hiding away, to jumping, to hurling, to having skill, rhythm, to language, to guessing... they also place emphasis on the formulas, norms and children draws, and the hand-made toys, without forgetting gender differences. Clara Urdangarin and Joseba Etxebeste, using this repertoire and others as a reference, suggest a classification of young children games. They begin by using the division made by the anthropologist, Joseba Zulaika, between winning or losing games (lineal games of competition) and winning and losing games (cyclical games). The opposing Basque terms "jokoa" (game of chance and of competition) and "jolasa" (game with no bid or competition) which are placed at the ends of a continuum with sixteen possible combinations. Maybe whats most interesting of their contribution is the four criteria established for this classification. The first of them is the relationship between the players, enabling to distinguish between psycho-motor games (or on ones own) and socio-motor (collaboration, opposition or collaboration-opposition). The second criteria is the relationship with space that enables to distinguish between certainty games and uncertainty games. The relationship with objects inspires the difference between games in which no object is necessary and games with materials or objects (we would also add here, plants, animals...). lastly, games are distinguished according to their relationship with time: games without a definite ending and games in which the end is marked. The combination of all these criteria enable them to classify a series of traditional games using a index card that assembles the characteristics of the game (description, space, number of participants, age, material, structure and length), how to play (beginning, development, end, other ways of playing), the predominant actions, the uses and customs associated with the game, and the pedagogical aspects promoted by the game.
However, this clear exposition faces the dificulty that we have been drwing attention throughout this whole classification of oral and immaterial genres: their permeability, that is, that games, songs, series, etc are very often difficult to differentiate. Ana Pelegrín, in her classication of forms of children folklore, refers to it. She establishes four blocks: series-games and lullabies that the elders teach young children; the development of speech; rhythmic and motor games (actions and movements with objects, series of draws, rhythmic and witty and forfeit games); and song games. As seen, these fuzzy, permeable borderlines influence her classification. To the extent that later she reformulate and simplifies the classification into three blocks headed games-rhymes of movement and action, game-rhymes of wit and circle-danced games. This difficulty has forced other specialists and compilers to make classifications of their collections of traditional games according to less coherent criteria in general than those presented by Urdangarin and Extebeste.
Adult games are much less complicated to classify: fights, stone-throwing, metal lever throwing, bowling, skittle games, conjuring games and card games... This repertoire fits in comfortably into the criteria proposed, as the conections with other genres is minor or non-existent. In the description of these games the differences between gender and how they are distinguished from traditional sports is approached.
To conclude, we adopt the criteria and index card model used by Urdangarin and Etxebeste with the following precautions to be considered. As proposed by Ana Pelegrín, this oral tradition based card should include a study of the allusions made to games in literary works and glossaries with its references, an iconographic study to enquire into the graphic representations of games and a final comment that would integrate all the data obtained from the different sources.