Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

The value of play The ambiguity of play m.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "The value of play The ambiguity of play m."— Presentation transcript:

1 The value of play The ambiguity of play m

2 The value of play The ambiguity of play - It’s our primary adaptive response as advanced mammals - It’s our most appropriate way of operating in the network society - It’s a display of ‘soft power’, both domestically and globally -It is essentially amoral/multi-moral -It is an energy to be contained, as much as expressed -Play is not ethical, but requires an ethics

3 ‘Pokemon Theme Song’, Anthony Pedilla & Ian Hecox, 28.11.05 Second most viewed ever on YouTube: 19,836,641

4 Circle Circle Dot Dot - Jamie Kennedy and Stu Stone (2006) Views on YouTube: 2,562,563 (No.2 December 2006)

5 ‘Dirty Kuffar’ Sheikh Terra and the Soul Salah Crew (2004) YouTube viewers: 8,896 (uploaded November 2006)

6 Bluetoothed to Pat Kane’s phone, 21.12.06, Princes Square, Glasgow

7 YouTube (and the Net in general) is a ‘playground’, a ‘ground of play’ What sustains a playground? Law? Custom? Culture? Its design and affordances? Rules of each game? What kind of playground, or ‘ground of play’, should the BBC be? Given the essential ambiguity and potentiality of play…



10 A recent history of play: John Thackra's 1998 Doors of Perception - play as a kind of active learning, a spirit of experimentation - Danny Hillis saying that play and efficiency are opposed – but that a creative business needs to have long- term playfulness - Lovely cosmic and spiritual stuff from Dutch poets, Indian designers m/doors5/doors5index.html


12 Nearly ten years on - 9/11, Iraq, 6/6 and the Stern report – the world has gotten much more playful in some ways, and much less playful in others

13 More playful -The acceleration of network society (M. Castells, R. Sennett) - which requires ‘players’ to survive and thrive in it. -Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 to Web… the ‘innovation commons’ (Lessig) just keeps on growing, through participation and creativity -Maturing of the ‘Greystation’ generation - games now as formative as television was to Boomers and early X-ers -For the first time ever in 2005, recreation was the biggest component of household expenditure -Much organisational work inherently playful - or requiring energy, enterprise, and investment of imagination and emotion. Rise of the ‘Soulitarians’ (But can you keep their heads and hearts in line?)

14 Less playful ‘Liberal semiocrats’ don’t have it all their own way The illimitability and excess of play becomes directly questioned by a growing society of limits and asceticism, caused by environmental considerations (will all design now have to be sustainable design?) the relegitimation of the sacred and iconoclasm (can all signs be equally promiscuous?)


16 Need to revise that … ‘Jihad via YouTube’ Benjamin Barber … ‘Jihad versus McWorld’ We could as easily have… ‘Itijihad via YouTube’ (answer video, comments) How can such an obvious play-form as ‘Dirty Kuffar’ preach iconoclasm and Western image decadence ? It is another form of play - but how to recognise it? We are on a common global ground of play, as players - but we need better theories of play than just ‘free play against authority and order’

17 Brian Sutton-Smith, The Ambiguity of Play (Harvard 1997) Best grounded theory of play I can find…. For complex mammals, humans most of all, play is ‘adaptive potentiation’ It keeps us flexible and full of possibilities, in the face of our struggles to survive and prosper in our social and natural worlds

18 “Play, as a model of evolutionary selection, engenders variable contingencies (uncertainties and risks) for the purpose of exercising selective control over them in fictive or factual terms. It is a mastery process creatively derived from the the exigencies of the evolutionary predicament” (p.229) “I define play as a virtual simulation characterised by staged contingencies of variation, with opportunites for control engendered by either mastery or further chaos. Clearly the primary motive of players is the stylized performance of existential themes that mimic or mock the uncertainties and risks of survival and, in so doing, engage the propensities of mind, body and cells in exciting forms of arousal…” “Play is also a lifelong simulation of the key neonatal characteristics of unrealistic optimism, egocentricity and reactivity, all of which are guarantors of persistence in the face of adversity” (p.231)

19 Modern Play as progress – we adapt and develop through play Play as selfhood – play as an expression of voluntary freedom Play as imaginary – play as symbolic transformation, mental energy Ancient Play as power – we contest and compete with others – in sports and games, in theatres of power Play as identity – the play-forms we use to confirm membership in a community – carnival, ritual, festival Play as fate and chaos – the sense that we are played by forces greater than ourselves, not accessible to reason Play as frivolity – play as laughter, subversion, tomfoolery Brian Sutton-Smith - the seven rhetorics of play

20 But it is a HORIZONTAL model - like Gardner’s ‘multiple intelligences’ - and doesn’t account for the tangled ‘play- forms’ of YouTube (from Pokemon to Jihad), mingling modern and ancient forms almost chaotically Sutton-Smith’s theories help us to establish the legitimacy, diversity and constitutive reality of the ‘ground of play’ in world society - it encompasses the extremes and subtleties of the human condition Can we think of play VERTICALLY as well - more developed and expansive forms of play and player? How do we nuture the new ‘lego’ [Danish, ‘play well’]?

21 Unitive player Dynamic player Sensitive player Complex player Status player Ordered player Aggressive player Magical player From ‘Are We Having Fun Yet? An integral investigation of the transformative power of play’, Gwen Gordon and Sean Esbj ö rn-Hargens, Play and Culture Studies Vol. 8.


23 A ‘play ethic’ is not just a euphoric celebration of play… …but an approach to the composition of a meaningful life, faced by a society of play and players Robert Kagan talks of being ‘In Over Our Heads’ - incredibly evolved (and evolving) tools and technologies, but with our values, ethics and consciousness struggling to catch up This is mostly where we are with digital games - incredible synthetic words dramatising school bullies, LA pimps or trivial celebrity narratives… But can interaction design at the BBC be more/better?

24 Q1: Who takes responsibility for the development and growth of players (rather than workers)? Q2: What are the means and techniques that enable development-through-play? A1: The BBC (or maybe the BIC)? A2: Interaction design?

25 The day my technophilia finally evaporated: Steve Jobs pranking Starbucks with his I-Phone, Jan 2007

26 Always the possibility of new secondary markets though…


28 Role for the BBC in this digital, playful, global future? ‘Gorgeous Librarians’  the most attractive (and accessible) audio-visual- textual archive in the world.  A true ‘ground of play/playground’  ….But will “share”, “find” and “play” allow “rip”, “mix” and “burn”? ‘Serious Players, Serious Games’  BBC should not be transfixed by notion of ‘correcting market failure’.  So much of the ‘wealth of networks’ is based on commons/civic/academic values - economy of sharing (Y.Benkler).  Use your non-market position to think of advanced technique and advanced content simultaneously - move players’ “up the spiral” BBC => BIC: British Integral/Innovation Commons

29 The value of play The ambiguity of play m

Download ppt "The value of play The ambiguity of play m."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google