Saturday, December 5, 2015

Play Entry 27 - Oh Hell, I've been down this road before

Once upon a time - a long, long time ago I used what I now recognize as focus grouped ethnography to playtest toys and write toy reviews.

I tackled the difference between adult play and child's play then - right there- published and everything:

"If you want a glimpse into a strange new world, eavesdrop on a pre-schooler playing alone. You will discover a range of voices, character traits, and truly alien thinking that will put to shame any hidden notion you have of your own superior imagination. The biggest lie we science fiction adults tell ourselves is that we have retained the sense of imagination and wonder we had as children. But we are cynical. We imagine the impossible because we have so clearly defined for ourselves what is possible. We hope for the improbable because, well, we’re weird. But children have yet to draw the line between possible and impossible. They still hope for the impossible.

When we adults play, we are practicing the suspension of disbelief. Children, on the other hand, suspend nothing. Even when they are very reality-based during their period of play, they practice belief. For the duration of their play, they believe their doll is hungry; they believe their T-Rex hand puppet is bad and should be smacked on the snout for trying to eat boo-boo bunny; they believe that they are the teacher and should be listened to. I hope that by encouraging this type of play over video games that the kids we deal with will have a little less disbelief to suspend when they are older and weighted down by reality like we are."

I've moderated my own stance considerably on video-games over time, but part of the reason is that video games have changed too - that's personal/editorial - I think what's interesting to me is that this is commercial writing for niche market and before I went back to any form of school. For example: In an earlier column I discuss how "I don't know much about Art History" and it was true then, and it is deeply false now.

I am more consistent than many would be over a span of decades but I obviously still care about the same questions for different reasons.

That insight of "belief" is a thing I struggle with in anthropology - recognizing that the impulse to consign to "suspension of disbelief" already privileges rationalist hierarchies and colors other systems as "fictional" or "unbelievable"

The reason I encountered my own work is an internet security search I do every so often -

I may have to cite myself at some point -

I'm glad I'm not static, I'm also glad my past self doesn't make me cringe too much. But that said I'm already writing to adults about Nostalgia Play vs Play, where the act of playing at all is nostalgic and subversive in the literal sense.

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