Tuesday, November 19, 2002

I'd like to know how you play

I'm currently zipping through the literature on PLAY - and four types repeatedly come up: games of chance, games of competition, games of simulation or mimicry, and games of vertigo (making your head spin). The first thing I do when I read something is to gauge it against my own experience - and so I find myself thinking that I gravitate towards games of competition and vertigo.

I was one of those kids who loved spinning round and round until I fell over. Now I actively seek out mental vertigo - the practice of cramming a bunch of disparate ideas into my brain and spinning them about to see what happens. I am a geek and I love this. But the competition thing makes me a little uncomfortable: I'm not much of a fan of organised sport (with the exception of the World Cup and rugby), religion or rampant capitalism - and yet I find myself inescapably drawn to the world of academia, with its inherent competitiveness. (We'll just skip any psychoanalysis of this...)

My concern is that these types of play inadequately account for social interaction in space and time. There is a tendency to regard playfulness as a separate space (one of leisure rather than work) and, consequently, as non-productive behaviour. And that doesn't seem right to me. As much as I believe that we don't always interact in order to achieve something, I'm suspicious of any account that claims our interactions are non-productive. Of course, the question then becomes "What is being created?"

So, while I can only offer my gratitude for helping me with my research, what I would love to know is: How, When and Where do you play? And if you're so inclined, try to give a stab at what you think is produced through your playfulness. That would be way cool ;)

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