Saturday, October 17, 2015

Play Entry 12 - Parties: Leisure or Play

This play journal is still happening before lit review on play or leisure so that my experiences of it are still in the tactile embodied sense.

However in Karen Ho's Liquidated she describes the recruitment process for Wall Street and how the recruiters come to campus and basically invite undergrads to events that model the kind of socializing and life they would have access to if they become members of those companies.

The “vigorous college recruiting season” is usually capped off with elaborate “sell days” to encourage seniors to accept the job. Such perks include “ski trips to Utah and dinners at Lahiere’s” (Princeton’s four-star restaurant) (Easton 2006; Shapira 1998). Every junior and senior that I interviewed spoke about the allure of recruiting, the constant wining and dining, the fancy spreads at upscale hotels and
 According to the Daily Princetonian staff writer Alice Easton: After months of dressing up in suits and ties, making their way to New York or the Nassau Inn and trying to impress panels of interviewers with their technical and social skills, juniors applying for summer internships in finance and consulting can now reap the benefits of their work: elaborate “sell days” to convince them to accept the job.… “They paid for two nights at a fancy hotel in New York.… They rented out a museum and had a cocktail party, and then rented out the VIP room in a nightclub in Soho.”... The company later sent him chocolates in the mail.…[ They showed recruits] a whole lifestyle.
  (Easton 2006)
Ho, Karen (2009-06-22). Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street (a John Hope Franklin Center Book) (p. 50). Duke University Press. Kindle Edition.

So this is the thing I am thinking about parties as Leisure and why leisure is different than play.

Liesure is the time defined as not-paid I think. You are expected to do things and perhaps expected to consume but not necessarily create - creation of the party however may be play - you are crafting a social experience.

As the senior rep for the Anthropology Department together with my fellow rep we are in charge of putting together the Anthropology Tea. For me it is a party planning happy space - I love designing events and subverting serious things with unserious ones and vice versa - it is like writing.

Our tea will use our traditional theme of Halloween - because physical anthropology loves skeletons and Anthro 101 is usually in sessions and dealing with skull identification at that point. Our school recognizes the four fields method of teaching anthro and when I attended I wanted to understand or be engaged more in our recruiting process for those things - so the play for me was setting up a party for new and interested people that also tied into the four fields.

Cultural will be the Bryn Mawr Tea, Biological will have blood clot candies, DNA referecning injections and bones, Archeology will have a life sized chocolate skull we can serve using stone tools (hopefully) Linguistics will have grammatical notes and bookmarks,

Information will be provided on each table and we are hoping to have little table stands that say "ask Dr. ____ about _____" so potential majors and minors will be able use that question as ice-breakers for the profs.

the Planning for me was play - the party however will be networking - it's only two hours - there will be some speeches and presentations, the food and tables capes will be doing the events - there are no contests or games other than networking and eating an anatomically correct chocolate skull.

It is a party meant for information dissemination and maybe recruitment.

but I went to a birthday part last night  - we were gathered as disparate parts of my friend's life - we brought some of the people from our own to share - I brought food and a gift. - The birthday person was the host, alcohol, foodways, and networking were still done. 3/5 of our excecutive board was there. The realities of our weeklong break showed "break" for us really just meant "no classes were held but some deadline and assignment were still being submitted throughout the week.

The school held hearings, had work due on the monday and various institutional outside groups continued to have deadlines. In my support role I was still accessible to our constituency so most days either through kinship-support (the McBride or Anthro Major Kinship) or through "person needs real time help to deal with trouble" I ended up dealing with some school based admin focused issue daily. As much as I protected myself from adding work on my own while refocusing I did not achieve "escape from school/work" I simply didn't overload it. At the party - which was leisure we checked in and checked information - this does not mean we didn't have "fun" but it does mean that our off time is not separated from our on time.

The pure joy is I managed to get some of my friends from school to meet one of my very important friends from outside of school- and they enjoyed each other  - this is story sharing. And for me it cements some of my school friendships as friendships I will stake outside the space of institution. By introducing one world to the other intentionally it makes them more likely to survive the institutions - they will know they are not conditional friends.

So what is a party for when it is a gathering like this? How are parties different than parties planned around actives - like when friends who play games have parties based around playing the game?

We talked about games yesterday - because if you ask about my work right now you are asking about games. And a guest who knows some magic "played a game" with me:

GWKSM: "So do you know any good places to get Magic cards in the city"
Me: "Well by University City there's a really good store called Redcaps and...."
GWKSM: "I know the owners of Redcaps, I was going to see if you mentioned them. "

In terms of playing at regular events, while many things happened in Philly Redcaps is the only place to draft and play Friday Night Magic in Center City. So the question was initially from "unknowing because lightly engaged" and when GWKSM flipped it into a test - unbeknownst to GWKSM it becomes a gatekeeper question the subtext being "do you REALLY know anything about playing Magic in the area" however GWKSM was lightly engaged in the community and doesn't know any activities that aren't Redcaps based. GWKSM is also unfamiliar with stores outside the area, and engaged in conversation about why GWKSM didn't enjoy playing Dungeons and Dragons because it was presented as analogous to video games like Final Fantasy, instead of a collaborative storytelling game - which this person would not be interested in.

The reason I'm inclined to see our exchanged about Redcaps as a game GWKSM was playing is because of the definition and lens of competition being used to frame all conversations about play and goals until I applied other analytic frameworks in our conversation. Interesting in light of the statement "limited is the only 'real' way to play competitively" and not knowing what Elo rankings were but automatically assuming they were accurate and superior to non-Elo rankings.

In that case what is the underlying competitive habitus of asking that question to "test" my answer? Assuming it's not "women don't play or know Magic" which I'm not inclined to believe as a conscious choice - then was it a game of establishing my credibility or a hide and seek discovery game where GWKSM's cultural capital is revealed?

A side note - at the part last night were 4 people who identified themselves as people who played magic with perhaps 20 people at the party - the host does not play magic.

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