After interviewing 7 people on what their definition of play would be and thinking about my own I’ve come to the conclusion that play is this:
Let me elaborate. I opened the program “Notepad” and I proceeded to write down “Play”. I didn’t do this by typing “Play”. I was trying to brainstorm ideas for this assignment when my mind strayed. Instead I thought, “How can I write play differently? “. I arranged different symbols on my keyboard into letters. This became an activity that I became absorbed in. I consider this play. I figured it would be easiest to define play by engaging in play myself. Now I have to ask myself what characteristics I can take from this activity.
- I wanted or desired to do this activity: Desirable.
- I was amused and enjoying myself: Amusement and Enjoyment
- I felt challenged in arranging the symbols correctly: Challenge
- I was absorbed in the activity and could not stop myself from completing it: Intense Concentration.
- I used my imagination and creativity: Imaginative
I interviewed several people and amusement, in one form or another, was always present in their definition of play. In my opinion I think play is actively [interacting] engaging in created activity to provide amusement. Beyond the scope of amusement it becomes impossible to concretely define what play is. Often play puts you in an instance of the world where you are in charge. The rules and context of your situation are subject to your imaginative and creative impulses. However playing often involves stepping into an instance of the world manufactured by someone else, in which case you follow the rules set out for you. One may argue that play is a form of learning. I have come across the notion that play is a tool that children use to understand the world in which they are immersed. While I don’t think that is necessarily wrong, is play limited to children and isn’t all experience a catalyst to understanding? All of these things are associated with play but are they intrinsic to play itself? I will leave my definition as interactivity created to provide amusement.
Play is extremely important to me. While it is not in my definition, I believe as an effect play leaves me with an overwhelming sense of enjoyment. This was another thing that was common in almost every interview. Play forms an important balance between desired and required activity in my life. Without play I believe life would be significantly reduced in positive emotion.
Why is it important for new media students to consider play? As a new media student whose focus dwells in interactivity I would think it’s important to consider the types of interactions we have. One way of looking at experience is categorizing it as required or desired interaction. Considering play allows us as experience designers and as new media students, to create experiences that entice the subject and keep them transfixed within them. This allows us to create not only desirable experience but make required experience enticing too.
(last names excluded for privacy reasons)
Play, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Play_%28activity%29, Wikipedia