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.

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