Sunday, February 11, 2007

Game vs. Play

Social scientist Shiv Visvanathan makes an interesting distinction between game and play in his article, Alternative Futures, which appeared in the opinion page in The Times of India (dated Feb 10th):

“A game is a bounded, specific way of problem solving. Play is more cosmic and open-ended. Gods play, but man unfortunately is a gaming individual. A game has a predictable resolution, play may not. It allows for emergence, novelty, surprise.”

How does one create play in learning? To begin with, is it even conceivable to create it? Maybe it’s possible to set the ground for play and shift the power to the learner/user to play. Google (along with G-Talk, G-mail, You Tube, Blogger) is one such ground, Second Life is another.

Play is the way you learn from life while you use Game to learn in an organization or in an institution. (I’m using Play and Game more in a metaphorical sense than in a literal sense.) Why? Because Play is open ended, non-purposive, and endlessly interpretative, whereas Game is purposeful, focussed and driven towards an objective. I’m not saying that Play cannot be purposeful but a game certainly cannot be non-purposive. Maybe I’ll try to expand this line of thinking some other day.

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Anonymous Gerard Dekker said...

Dear Anil,
Interesting blog article on the distinction between play and game. We (at MadLogic) write a four-part blog series about Johan Huizingas' Homo Ludens, a historical book on the subject of play as a preliminary stage of culture. The book was written in 1938 but is still a standard work. We intend to end the series with one or more scenario's for the development of play in the 21st century.
Feel free to challenge us if you have any thoughts on this subject

11:49 AM  

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