Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Play Entry 24 Openness, Chaos, Replacement

Yesterday we were dealing with Design in org behavior class and moved to make a design vision board for our consulting offices - this is of course part of my former world and the vision board part of it wasn't the hard part - it was being an anthropologist in a room of social workers.

"What do you want your client to experience when they come to see you"

They need to be in very different spaces than I do with that - they are looking to help people achieve specific mindsets and goals and healing or achieving things.

Anthropologists go where people are not have people come to them.

Consultancy - which is the other thing I would be doing would be convincing people that I share their symbols and and values while actively working to change them.

I am working on the idea of Play as Viability - a survival impulse - I am looking for people who come in to my space to be open in replace some of the things they know with things the do not know- I'm pretty sure in my working definition of play one of the concepts will be play as transformational - you cannot be unmarked by "play"even if it feels unserious.

I contend the "unreality" of play as intrinsic to it's definition and find that is more of a linguistic instinctual backlash trying to maintain the hierarchy that is currently "rationality" -

Openess - all things may be possible for at least a nanosecond because you thought of it
Chaos- Chaos
Replacement - if you touch chaos for a moment it will take a piece of space where chaos wasn't.

If you're playing with me we're changing things together.


Conversation at a bar with my brother-in-law -
"Who GAVE you matches!"

I was talking about an essay I handed in - my thesis proposal is due this week and it meant that my writing for my other classes was a little less filtered and my thought processes and sense of humor was more present because my brain was working so hard on meeting stringent structured requirements for the proposal.

I mentioned my birthday matches in that essay.

This exclamation engaged us in a playful conversation that literally became about play.

The thing that I take away from it several hours later is this - the exclamation became a moment of trust "Oh my god he DOES actually know something about 'real me'" rather than simply the kinship space I occupy for the family - the rest of the conversation ( which he agrees for adults counts in play) is play not because of the "joking relationship" that would be described by Radcliffe-Brown but because the recognition OUTSIDE the role meant that it was "safe to play" - at that point play is connection. Transformatively the relationship changed incrementally - I am known in a way I did not think I was known - interactions will be slightly different - trust will be slightly higher - if he gifts me matches it will be a reference to that moment.

I wrote about the way rationality and credibility force "positives" into transient moments instead of permanent objects because once a thing is proven it no longer becomes "proof positive" but an "objective fact" and thus neutral but in discussing the essay - the playful act of gifting me matches become referenced and semiotic in several spaces making a transient moment a returnable referent.

It is also generative - sharing the moment of play ( or in actuality playing with the moment of play) reproduces the moment and then leads to more moments of "good" and play.

If rationality makes "good" no-thing, a moment before it becomes an objective neutral then seems like play might take that moment and make it "a thing" and removes it from neutrality - so its not simply emotional reality but also moved into an objective positive existence.

If I were a novel, it would matter that it is the act of providing me with matches that is acting as a way for me to realize I am being seen. I don't think we actually exist that far outside of literary theory.

Also I still have matches. And I made Anarchy Chickens in my class at Grad school

******* A thing I observed on some-else's FB threat about not-getting Wesley Crusher Hate in Star Trek Next Generation.

Adrienne Reynolds Older men in SF hated that character the same way they hated Barney (the pre-school dinosaur) and for the same reasons - they didn't get that it wasn't about them - but there was also the problem of him being used for deaux-ex-machina. 

And that Barney reference isn't random - I was running and SF magazine and the sheer amount of time, investment and hot air older SF fans spent hating Barney at conventions was ridiculous. Now when I think about "disliked things" in the 80's and 90's it always looks like "hey this isn't catering to ME" kinds of things where before the space exclusively catered to them or they were power tripping - hating Barney in SF spaces was about some sort of something ....

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Play entry 23

Earlier this week was my Anthropology History and Theory presentation on Post- Structuralism

So I convinced my team ( to no resistance) to teach and discuss habitus and Foucault's Discipline with legos.

This was very successful - and though I will be writing a reflexive essay about the act of negotiation and designing the exercise *one of very cool effects is the three of us all then worked through designing the exercises we cared about most by not behaving in the manners or physcical space usage of past classes.

Improvisation and adjustment happened - cause and effect suspended and morphed. If it is not transforming something is it play?

Over the last two evenings I have finally "played Magic" each with an individual friend ( one new,  one pre-existing)

Here are things that are true:

My first friend is "new" and he has been unable to play Magic for two ( possibly more) years - he brought his own cards. The last time he played was during my favorite time to play - for those who don't play magic, set releases are tied to a story that provides "flavor" which is then also executed through art and game mechanic shifts. Innistrad from Sept 2011 which was legal to play in Standard through September 2013 is my favorite standard legal environment. It's horror film inspired.

The end result is that I got to play with a number of decks that I hadn't taken apart for pieces because I love them so much. I got to play "less competitive" decks because my friend's collection was being looked at for the first time and his deck construction was unclear - we talked about what it means to play and keep up with building decks.

He enjoys the building part and his builds are from his collection. He did not play competitively so the act of economics is based in collections through boosters - playing "kitchen table" with me allows his collection to be "at will" there's no need to keep up or buy more advantageous cards.

However I interact with the cards from a collection/competitors positionally - my goal ( less intense since the release of Gatecrash ) is to collect at least one of each set. The more I play competitive play, the weaker that impulse of engagement becomes.

In the process of identifying my interactions with play I should unpack that - "fun" used to be collecting and putting the cards in binders that could then page through later. Binders would still be the "dream" way of storing sets of cards for me - however they are space inefficient, and expensive to maintain a collection of over 14,000 cards that way.

So thinking about the relation of consumer to community member: the consumption of the material objects to participate in the activity - combined with my personal "joy" in that consumption created an effect where I no longer can do the joyful thing in a pragmatic way.

An emergent property however will be this - I am not a deck builder - I'm more of a tinkerer: some of this is also about time constraints - and I have now found there is a whole study of women and leisure time to cross compare use of leisure. However my friend the engineering student would build decks but has economic constraints as well as deep time constraints - my surplus cards however could be used for him to make decks that live at my house where we would play. I keep my decks forever when I love them or didn't get a chance to play them as much as I'd like.

There is also the issues of card management - the tool that I use to update and record the circulation of my collection** stopped opening this weekend. I am not the only person who had this issue when I went to report it to the developers.

Being unmoored from the record of my collection made me realize how I am both connected to the material collection and alienated from it simultaneously - my ambivalence in play and my disconnect from my preferred methods of storage actually mean that I have accumulated a surplus of maintenance work that could be pleasurable but now is perfunctory to an opportunity to play.

I should come back and flowchart this relationship.

However the surplus is creating an opportunity for a community member to re-engage with a form of play that includes discovery and creation and give him "joy" and then presents and opportunity for us both to play.

We played with existing decks on Friday.

On Saturday while I ostensibly asked for help with work - ( developing a survey) what happened instead was play - we played with coffee, we played with shopping at the anniversary event of my local games store, then we played with cards. She had brought a mixed proxy deck from the same Standard environment that my friend on Friday night had. Because she and I had previously played together - expectations of skill set were less "cautious" but she also hadn't played in sometime.

We discussed things we practiced "not to look dumb" like shuffling and card placement.

I think it's significant that our "Kept" decks for all three of us are disproportionately in that timeframe even though we have VERY different core motivators for playing - all three of us are unhappy with playing the current Battle for Zendikar set. The reasons for our reduction in play however are all differently motivated so therefore not causative between that disconnect.

All three of us expressed how nice it was to play without playing with strangers, performativity, or economic concern. Two of us however dropped a bunch of $ when we went to the game store anniversary - one for gifts for others involving miniature gaming and me for "non-study" desired singles for a modern deck - putting together the modern deck has no aspect of "play" to it - it is solely at the economic exchange issue for the "hope of play" later. Now that I have re-established two friends who will come over to play without the other psycho-social burdens of playing the modern deck elsewhere I may proxy my missing cards to play the deck while continuing to acquire the legal cards for future opportunity to play.

The economic constraints of building the modern decl literally mean I am not playing the game - I will not be able to acquire a fully legal deck for the better part of a full year due to the costs of the components.

*(my own habitus and my participation in structuring structures was explicit - once again moving through Holt's knowing but also through Rabin's trickster categories - is incorporation of bodied play "uncanny"?)

** this is a lie - a collection does not "circulate" if I never trade or get rid of cards .... or if it does circulate it circulates internally through my own usage/storage patterns.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Play Entry 22

"The best known element of Homo Ludens is Huizinga’s statement of five defining characteristics of play. 
  • First, play is a relatively free or voluntary activity in which people set the terms and timing of their own in- volvement. 
  • Second, play is distinguished from routine affairs by its absence of material consequences. 
  • Third, play is separated from other activities by its use of exotic rules, playing spaces, ideas of time, costumes, and equipment. 
  • Fourth, play is marked by the way in which it both honors rules and yet encourages transgression and disorder. 
  • And fifth, play promotes the banding together of participants in “secret” or otherwise outlandish societies. 

The Nature of PlayAn Overview
Thomas Henricks 

This is a apparently controversial because Huizinga was focused on adult play and dismissed solitary play and seems to be a kind of "great man" theory of play.

This is probably relevant to my thesis because the intentional construction of premier competitive play in Magic the Gathering buys into the theories described in Homo Ludens and specifically utilizes them for market purposes - creating economic capital through creating social capital.

Also this entire edition of the American Journal of Play:

Friday, November 13, 2015

Play Entry 21

I still have not managed to play anything like what I consider "a real game" of Magic

Part of this is the problem of the current set - it is difficult for me to read and therefore difficult for me to play. The other problem is the general problem of "play" as an adult in general.

I went and carved time out to play last Weds but preparing to play made me remember the disability issue - I could not "risk" playing because of the academic workload coming up over the weekend and could not afford the neurological side effects.

On my birthday we agreed to play, but the person was caught in their group work - his original desire was to play in "Organized Play" but that starts at 7 - there is no way to move from work to "play" without some mental preparation ( plus material preparation) as it was he joined us at the home event three hours late -

In that time my other friend and I had taken the opportunity to sort cards - specifically land -  by matching the artwork in it. This is in preparation for something like a cube - a fixed form of the game that emulates the booster pack based draft environment.

During the sorting of cards there was a feeling of "play" we talked about what the cards meant - imagined stories about the art, recognized and matched artists and art themes. Joked and remembered stories, made vulgar references ( ah trickster class)

This form of play - pattern making and improvisational/adaptive - seems to interact with Bordieu's descriptions of habitus and the idea of "discovery" of things that seem natural or original within the context of cognitive and social interactions being "the forgetting of history" - by which he meant the individual acculturation of discipline and the world that existed before the person did, through the structure structuring itself.

We are sorting cards that were based on archetypal semiotics and specifically reference the art history of landscape painting and the MASSIVE structure of hierarchy and discipline that those paintings rest upon.

We are using tools not designed for our task, and the inversion of what the items are is part of the play ( I use a very fancy tea caddy to sort cards)

not the land cards
So the camaraderie happened - my friend and I waiting for others "played" without rules but patterns were all underneath what she and I were doing with a shared knowledge of the "pieces" - or what the game was doing and why these most basic pieces of the game had aesthetic, value but frequently no economical value - 

The card sorting was also a side effect of the study - these were the cards that were being categorized for collection and circulation data - so one of the places where my work self/play self are explicitly combined in native participation - there is no separation of anthropological self in the acts of sorting cards - there is only the knowing consumption of the activity (Holt) 

The gathering that night was birthday based and where normally my birthday goes by with minimal "marking" due to the difficulties of balancing "down time" with some work I am doing as an adovacy rep, I let my social circle know that it existed. There were three separate gatherings of friends with overlap and they all involved food, sharing of things they like and the trying of those things by me. 

The acts of "play" in the gatherings were in the choosing of what to mark me with- and what I should share with them. There is aspect of joking relationships - One of my gifts was matches, a very large box of matches - I do no smoke. I understood the matches ;-)

The acts of play also include the plans of boundaries - and discovery outside the Bourdieu habitus sense - or maybe inside if we look at it through improvisational adjustment lens. 

The culture of one of the Gatherings included "birthday shots" among the group that was there ( and the hostess particularly) - as a rule I don't generally drink shots because if I like something slamming it back quickly simply to create a physical effect seems counterproductive - and improvisational adjustment was negotiated - I would try something new once they discovered I would drink whisky shots if it was a good sipping whisky - the person most invested in the birthday shot tradition was excited to share her favorite whisky with me - and the ordering of birthday shots meeting the outlines of that social space could continue according to it's rules while I interacted with it through application of my own - the gathering went on for over 4 hours - during which I sipped through 4 shots slowly. Having been at other gatherings with the Birthday shot tradition I am aware that those 4 shots would have been consumed in rapid succession if I were game or still standing at the end - so I am also aware that the rituals of ordering, viewing, shared toasting, anticipation of effect and proposed ideas of future misbehavior, then consumption would have been in a much tighter timeframe and had very different  effect - so the improvisational adjustment was also on the part of my friends.

I would argue that we "played with" the birthday shot ritual in that we warped its "rules" 

The status game discussed by anthropologists in terms of social and cultural capital uses the word "game" which drags along the word "play" as a verb to describe the action of engaging in the game. 

Playing - simply means engaging here - play as verb 
Play as a noun however is still running around loose. 

The end result of the night is we all have a way for me to participate in future birthday shot rituals that is now "Known" -Drinne WILL drink shots with us she just won't throw them back 
In this crowd getting me to participate in rituals around alcohol shows personal knowledge
I do intentionally not share some of this knowledge - the social pressure for that is protective to them - my tastes are significantly different than what is often ordered or shared and I don't want anyone to feel judged nor do I want anyone to go to extra expense to get something specific to my tastes. 

I need to give some thought to this - my reticence is based in making others feel comfortable when I share information there is a social and cultural capital exchange going on based in economic capital 

Friendship and name kinships are involved in this specific group - knowing things about each other "outside" is a kind of cultural currency. 

But the "play" aspects of a party involve very little "play" outside the rituals themselves - so they seem to be "leisure" in the way that they are simply "not work" only inversions of rules or creations of patterns seem to be "playful" - and I'm inclined to think of them as "things of transient effect" but on reflection they aren't transient at all 

My cards are sorted by art - everyone present now knows the different arts and on particular piece of art will forever be called by this group "the Vulva Land" 

The group that celebrated with me  now knows I drink whiskey and scotches and that can be a site of future sharing and ritual - 

Those are not transient. That's emergent effect from play and tiny, but transformational 

However, it does match with the idea of "forgetting of history" as discovery - those things are transmitted through play. They existed beforehand they just weren't shared with each other and they were utilized through activity. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Play Entry 20 - Gender thoughts - operant conditioning through play

OK seriously weird thought experiment based on patriarchal culture :
Historically children were treated as unisex in western european based cultures until t least the age of three - then gender separation would happen later 
(- shades of this are seen in toy industry categorizations when I was working as a toy reviewer in the 1990's - Unisex was a pre-school category, "all ages" was only for games and every other toy was gendered boy or girl THEN categorized by type) 
So the thing I'm thinking is this - by defaulting children to unisex but keeping them in the control of the feminine sphere of a patriarchal binary gender schema socializing to police them into gender roles "waits" and is mostly through cultural osmosis. 
But what if we took patriarchy ALL the way through and treated every child the way we would treat and train a male child until they developed secondary sexual characteristics. So their first 10-12 years everyone would be taught to possibly assume the roles in society that men would be assumed to have - and they'd have to LEARN how to fill in the support roles that their gender performance makes them "unsuitable" for AFTER being treated exactly like the people that would be running things. 
How would feminine and non-gender binary people fill those spaces and performances if they were not indoctrinated to them until 10-12? What would 'manhood' look like if ALL forms of play are supposed to happen in male space and adulthood is what makes others not-male? 
Can anyone even picture this without assuming that things currently coded male will exclusively stay that way instead of things being childish?

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Play -Organizing the inquiry

So it ends up there is an organization or three devoted to the anthropology of play.

I understand that my questions are actually about the connection between the state sanctification of some forms of play and the impulse to regulate play as "dangerous" in the same manner that the state regulates sex.

Both forms seem to have issues for a body of governance in that unless they are directed they could somehow disrupt the social structure favored by the state - I want to hold off a little bit more before I think about/discuss kinship through sexual contact vs play through shared contact.

Or maybe I don't - I should probably mark here that the explanation from "auto ethnography" that I wrote for a friend studying masculine identity and performances in Tinder specifically deals with my real life experiences of watching people redefine "infidelity" in my lifetime and my confusion with the sexual possessiveness of claiming mind and thought literally equivalent to bodily contact - and how "sex" was redefined through political media need.

If 80% of a culture doesn't think X is Y and .002% of a culture wants to make people hate someone because they DO think X is Y - was X ever Y if you need to create an entire cultural shift?

Is X then Y after? How does that end up as a social fact in the Durkheimian sense ?

There is a popular writer that is lawyer who has written about sex and punishment

Ok so here is the anger - I have asked lots of people about anthropology of play - there was not a chance that I was the only person observing these things - this is perhaps a frustration of undergraduate exposure - when I look at having all of Belle and Beast's library of academic work in front of me direction from professors is crucial, but they aren't necessarily equipped to point me to functionally useful ways to find expertise and pre-existing work so I don't spend too much time reinventing the wheel.

In any case the Proquest Tool and keeping up with actual regular media is what saves me almost always when an academic study peeks out a tiny disorted portion of itself and I can follow a name or a fact.

Here's where I'm at for the Magic ethnography though:

There is semiotics in all the forms of cultural interaction and cultural actors - this should be looked at through activity theory, habitus, and theories of value.

Community building and identity formation are literally constructed through playing with these cards or supporting these cards being played with or having someone in your life who plays cards - this is the ethnographic space - chosen identies, communities of activity, consumer identities and construction of work/leisure identities are here - I owe Zolani a written version of my identity discussion from class here.

Material objects - cards, accessories waste assmbleges if game materials, transformation of deck lists - semiotics of deck lists.

Relationship formation and maintenance

Non-WotC Content and Media creation - articles, crafts, art, alters, writing, fanfic, cosplay

What does it mean that story is both primary and tertiary to a property - Vorthos interaction and filling in the gaps.

Why even with exposure to play theory - MtG still maps poorly onto video game and fandom studies and feels more like it maps more accurately onto sports?

The illusions of value/the making of value/what would MtG lose if it stopped appropriating the linguistics of economics and wall street.

"Smartness" from the Karen Ho Liquidation ethnographic study - does that map with poker players and hedge fund managers

How and when do we make time to play. - also suburban development - destabilized middle classness - ties into the Consumer Republic and the consumer Citizen - Elizabeth Cohen's work -

Do women really "get" time to play - how quickly are we pressured to give up childish things as soon as secondary sexual characteristics become apparent in the west?

Note to add - check theory of objects/