Alex- First Reader

Whenever I think of play, I always think of the nature programs that I used to watch as a kid.  There would always the offspring of mammals such as lions or bears playing and roughhousing.  While human play is more complicated then animal play, I think that animal play is not fundamentally that different.

I mostly agree with Caillois’ defining factors of play except for the fact that play is unproductive.  While it is true that play does not produce anything, I think that it can be counted as investing in future productivity.  As the nature programs taught me when mammal offspring play they are often practicing skills that they will use to survive in the wild.  Their roughhousing is practicing for the battles that they will have when they are adults.  This is probably the reason that play evolved in mammals, as it gave them an edge surviving.

Humans play for similar reasons.  Just because play has no purpose does not mean that skills and knowledge can’t be gained from games.  People who play first person shooter video games have faster reaction times on average, probably because the game lets them practice this skill while playing.

The two games that we played this week were the opposite of games that help you learn.  Pacman is a very familiar game, having played it in my childhood.  I say that these games are unproductive because they are just for fun and doesn’t convey any skills to me at the moment.  Flow is more free and lets you discover what the game is at your own pace.  The process of discovery was fun but the game was over too quickly.

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3 Responses to Alex- First Reader

  1. I originally disagreed when Caillois states that play is unproductive. To be honest, I think I confused myself by thinking too much about the differences between play and practice. Relating back to what was discussed in class on tuesday, are pro-football players playing or working? When they practice, they play; when they play, they work. In this instance, could the words practice, play, and work be interchangeable? My personal belief is that every person is different. After watching a game of football, it was clear to me which players classified the game as ‘work,’ and which classified it as ‘play’.

    Though I can’t relate to the football players, I began thinking to myself about playing an instrument. As a musician, I practice several hours a week. There are instances where I am enjoying what I am doing, and then there are times where I want to break my instrument in half. There are scheduled practice/rehearsal times, and then there are free-form, enjoyable ‘jam sessions’. Nevertheless, we use the term ‘playing’ an instrument, not ‘making music with’ an instrument or whatever else one could think of. But, is it really fair to say I am ‘playing’ my instrument if I am receiving the opposite of enjoyment from doing so?

    I believe that play is a catalyst for practice. Agreeing with what you said, most games allow you to practice skills while playing. However, I also believe that practice can’t happen without an essence of play. For example, in order to beat a video game, you must practice the skills necessary to beat that game. Also, you must practice an instrument/sport in order to play it correctly. If you are a person who enjoys math, perhaps practicing/studying is entertaining to you and could be classified as play. If you enjoy sports or music, the terms practice and play could be interchangeable. Who you are and what you enjoy are the two main factors that define practice v.s play.

    • Jason Ko says:

      “When they practice, they play; when they play, they work. …is it really fair to say I am ‘playing’ my instrument if I am receiving the opposite of enjoyment from doing so?”

      You came to the conclusion that practice is an athlete’s play time. However, as I’m sure you can agree as a fellow musician, practice is often much less enjoyable than the performance. I am not completely sure how well that applies to athletes, but I would assume that it is much the same. Thus, I would disagree and say the opposite, that practice is “work”, and the playing of a game or a musical performance is the “play”.

      Though I have to agree, that in instances such as these, the line is quite blurry. Still, I would submit that no one truly enjoys practice in and of itself. One who enjoys practice enjoys the results that practice brings.

    • I’m glad you brought up the distinction between practice and play. The opposition works differently in different realms (sports, music, videogames, etc.). For example, what the best videogames do extremely well is to make “practice” feel like play. Most non-casual modern videogames require multiple do-overs. We might “die” two dozen times before we get past a particular obstacle. One way to look at this is to say that we fail more often than we succeed. Another way, though, is to say that all those unsuccessful attempts count as practice. Either way, though, it doesn’t feel like work.

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