Thursday, September 23, 2004

In search of play

The question of play is central to my dissertation, and I am currently revisiting and refining my position that play is a world-building activity.

When people talk about technology and play, they are usually talking about games and game-play, and I prefer to leave the ludology-narratology debate to the games studies folks.

My central concern right now is what can be called the problem of structure. You see, whether we take Huizinga's Homo Ludens, Caillois' Man, Play and Games, Gadamer's ontology of the work of art in Truth and Method, Derrida's structure, sign and play in Writing and Difference, or even Sutton-Smith's Ambiguity of Play, the concept and practice of play are always tied to structure.

Play is most often described as something that happens outside of 'reality', and therefore comprising its own structure, or as something that shapes and changes the very structure of culture or society itself. Either way, we're stuck with a structural understanding that doesn't have the conceptual or practical agency of a word actually rooted in the notion of movement and action.

So what would a non-structural approach to play look like? What is the space of play? How can play serve as a method of critical inquiry?

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