In the paper Communities of Play and the Global Playground by Pearce and Artemesia, they include the definition of “play” as defined by Johan Huizinga:

 “Johan Huizinga, considered the father of “ludololgy” (a term used to describe the study of digital games), defines play as

a free activity standing quite consciously outside “ordinary” life as being “not serious,” but at the same time absorbing the player intensely and utterly.  It is an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it.  It proceeds within its own proper boundaries of time and space according to fixed rules in an orderly manner.  It promotes the formation of social groupings which tend to surround themselves with secrecy and to stress their difference from the common world by disguise or other means.”

My first reaction is to call b.s. on parts of this definition – especially if it is relating to “play” outside of digital games.  The first part that bothers me is when he states that play is “not serious.”  In theory, play should not be serious, but in many instances – it is serious.  Have you ever been to a bar with intense fans watching a football or basketball game?  Some fans take the game incredibly seriously – granted, they are not “playing” while they watch the game.  Professional sports players are, in fact, playing the game though and take it incredibly seriously.  They are also getting paid money to play – which brings me to my second thought.  Huizinga’s definition states that play is “an activity connected with no material interest, and no profit can be gained by it.”

I realize I’ve just discussed play as it relates to sports rather than digital games, but I don’t know much about digital games – I’ve never played World of War Craft or Dungeons and Dragons, so I’m not quite sure how those games work.  In this paper, the author refers to these games as “Play Communities.”  The author states, “Yet in many other contexts, such ongoing play communities tend to be viewed as outside the norm.”  In my own opinion, the reason why these tend to be viewed as outside the norm is because players take the games so seriously.  Playing a computer game for hours on end and even sometimes being so wrapped up in the virtual world comes off as a little “strange” to people who don’t know much about the game.  People who play sports can’t physically play a game for hours on end (say 10-20 hours) because it’s just not physically possible.  People who play sports are also playing in the real world vs. a virtual world.

One last note I’d like to make is that the article states that “Cosplay, the practice of dressing up in costume, has gained widespread acceptance in Japan.”  With no evidence supporting that statement, I’d be the first person to want to argue that statement.  I think culturally, Japanese people will not outright show their disapproval or true feelings to people’s faces.  I think this can sometimes be mistaken with “acceptance.”  Just because they don’t voice their opinion as loudly doesn’t mean that they accept it.

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