Definitions of Play
Research and thoughts by: Monica Zolnierczyk
Thoughts on Play:
Play is essential to the evolution of mankind, learning to co-operate, building team working skills, leadership and acceptance of failure. It can be seen in everyday events and is used to pass the time. Not only does play build “gaming skills”, it develops skills used in tasks such as taking public transit, working on a project, or even cooking and cleaning. It also amplified skills such as patients, acceptance, being respectful of others, and even agility and physical shape. These are all things that we can gain from play as a child, a growing young adult and even adults. Play is all around us in the world, and even when it’s not there people look for ways to entertain themselves. Involving play in art is a very common practice because people like be reminded of their childhood and games they used to play. Play in technology can make even the simplest of games interesting and exciting in surprising ways.
“Sutton-Smith sites the work of evolution biologist Stephen Jay Gould, who claims that evolution is determined by adaptive variability, characterized by “sloppiness, broad potential, quirkiness, unpredictability, and, above all, massive redundancy. The key is flexibility, not admirable precision.” (Sutton-Smith 221) Sutton-Smith finds a correspondence between the characteristics of play and each of Gould’s principles, stating that “if quirkiness, redundancy, and flexibility are keys to evolution, then finding play to be itself quirky, redundant, and flexible certainly suggests that play may have a similar biological base.” (Sutton-Smith 222)
Some of the points made by the The Children’s Play Information Service, as to why play is important to children, on their factsheet online are as follows:
- “Play allows children to give free rein to their imagination. In pretend games, alone or with play companions, they can be whosoever they want and create an imaginary setting and scenario with a minimum of props;
- Pretend play may take on the form of almost total fantasy with superheroes and heroines. Some forms of pretend play are more domestic and allow children to try out adult roles in childcare, cooking or taking on a job role such as firefighter or nurse that they could not do in reality;
- Children sometimes use play in a spontaneous way to work through events and feelings that absorb them. They may choose to retell and sometimes rework experiences through their pretend play, story creation and artwork.”
Play in the Art World
Research and thoughts by: Karen Cochrane
Nostalgia Machines: Technology and Memory
This art piece is a kinetic sculpture that uses nostalgia to calm people down. They have open wires and motors. The sounds are supposed to be calming because it reminds people of the part. (Baum)
Our piece reminds people of their childhood and even though people are playing (and possibility running around) we do hope to create a calming and bring back positive memories.
Queen’s Human Media Lab Makes Board Games Graphic Electronic
A grad student and Professor at Queen’s University created a game in which the cards become mini-computers that create video projections using projectors and cameras. He states that these are the games of the future and items like these will be the computers in near future and will come in any shape or size. (Human Media Lab)
Our piece is a game of the future as it involves technology and board games. It creates a new way of playing which reminds me that there are not just two people playing but many people using technology.
Changing the Way We Play Using Social Media
This article explains how game rules are very complicated and sometimes takes a long time to learn. They explain it using social media as an excellent example – social media such as twitter has fantastic experience design and therefore users are able to use it right away. (Couzin)
When we are explaining the rules, we have to make it as easy to understand as possible, we have to make sure everyone can play as quickly as possible and they do not have to spend 90-minutes learning the rules.
TEDxUSC Talks: Kellee Santiago
She explains that board games and other types of games (such as sports) are not art. She defines art as the process or productivity that arrange elements that appear to the senses and emotions. Communicating art in a way that the audience finds engaging. She explains it is an evolution on what audiences are looking for in a game. (TEDx)
I find out piece a mix in between what she defines as play and what video game it. I guess in the sense that the users are using video but this piece is meant to be a two-way conversation within gaming. As people are using skype more and more to communicate, we are playing with the idea of video calling in a play space rather than just using it to talk to from it person A to person B. We are using the medium to create a new experience. We are putting the people in the same room on purpose and creating a new experience by playing with video calling that was not thought of before.
Text and Interview for the Exhibition “An 8-Bit Moment in Gameplay”
“Video game culture is in large part fueled by the same principles that have made networked culture possible: the possibility to share and remix code as desired, to then re-release it for the community to use and improve upon, again.” (Navas)
I feel this is important to our piece because instead of remixing a “video game” we are remixing a board game which had a huge significance in many of the player’s and character’s lives as a child. We are creating a new experience while keeping it similar enough that they can remember the old experience.
Classic Gaming Wiz (Blue Hedgehog Remix)
Audio 8-bit sound remixes are a huge part of play remixing. (Apicary)
It is a huge part of gaming art but our group feels that we are staying away from this type of remixing gaming art.
Nostalgia and the idea of games being “artifacts”
Research and thoughts by: Kathryn Barrtett
Hyperallergic – Sensitive to Art and Its Discontents
“Sometime around February 14, an internet phenomenon erupted as Charles Hoey and Pete Smith announced they had found a lost game cartridge for the original Nintendo video game system (NES). This cartridge was an unlabeled video game version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famed novel The Great Gatsby. Depicted in chunky 8-bit pixels, a boomerang-hatted Nick Carraway dashes through a game world of flappers, bellhops and gangsters. It even came with a vintage advertisement and a game manual that looked straight out of the 80s. The trick? This game wasn’t found; it was made in 2010. Thus we are rushed into an era of digital nostalgia.
Digital aesthetics are old and established enough by now that artists, musicians and cultural producers are starting to appropriate the old digital vanguard as a new form of nostalgia, a fetishizing of a past version of high-tech. From adopting the fuzzy visual quality of early monitor displays to copying the faults of static-ridden computer speakers, these digital semiotic tropes have become a new vocabulary for cultural producers.
Take The Great Gatsby’s NES version, for example. The initial appeal of the digital artifact was its exoticism—a holdover from an earlier era of multimedia entertainment, lost to time and stuck in someone’s closet. There’s a thrill to uncovering something hidden, an artifact. But why the piece remains interesting after acknowledging that it was actually created today is because of the visceral, emotional and aesthetic relationship we have to its original source material, the true artifacts.
Artists in other media are going through the same process, recycling a new era of the past. Visual artists are adopting the aesthetics of the early web, Geocities pages and glitch graphics, in surf clubs and mash-up image tumblelogs. In music, artists like James Blake and How to Dress Well are looking back to 90s R+B but reinterpreting it through a haze of static and artificially tinny sounds that echo bad computer equipment. Ian Bogost, a video game designer, has created graphic engines meant to precisely copy the fuzzy, backlit and noisy images of Atari games.
These pieces of art, visual, musical and written, depend on their relationships with their source material for impact, just as they depend on their viewers or listeners or readers to understand their references. It doesn’t matter that the Gatsby NES game is faked; it only matters that we can approach it appropriately, understanding the piece in terms of its own nostalgia. As another generation of artists and creators comes to prominence, more and more we will see mainstream art making use of digital nostalgia as a potent wellspring of artistic vocabulary.” (Chayka)
As this article attempts describe the feeling of nostalgia in gaming, one of the main focuses is how past things can be seen and remembered as artifacts. Typically we think of artifacts as objects from centuries before our time and not normally in the context of mere decades. Although this written piece aims towards digital gaming, this can be evident in board games as well. As each form of technology pushes us forward in the realm of play, it is interesting to think of board games as “artifacts” and sometimes their obsolete purpose in our lives when we have such things as screens for gaming. Their original existence becomes almost like a collectible – because in most cases they have become hybridized into something else. Using the example of the Great Gatsby, we have entered an age where original games are becoming rare, and the new versions are just as good, if not better than the first. Despite them being “tainted” with, they still take us back to remembering the original and the memories or time periods often associated with playing. Are we addicted to our past? Are we addicted to recreating it to better ourselves and our situations in our current time period?
Ournal of Visual Culture: The Remembering and the Forgetting of Early Digital Games: From Novelty to Detritus and Back Again
“I am fascinated by the abundant contra- dictions between games’ early novelty, their subsequent rejection, and a more recent (partial) recuperation of these artifacts – a cultural position that is thoroughly ambivalent, incorporating excitement, nostalgia and amnesia. Beyond simply noting this link between digital games and detritus, it seems important to inquire into the remembering and forgetting that make it possible to dismiss early digital technologies.” (Swalwell)
The timeline for early digital games:
– A will to forget
“Having made the journey from novelty to detritus, are early digital games now progressing back towards novelty? That is certainly the hope of those game companies with extensive back catalogues. They may not move quickly from ‘low’ to ‘acceptable’ status, but retro gaming has, over the last decade or so, certainly attained a degree of cool.” (Swalwell)
In relation to early board games, this theory is applicable by means of re-discovering childhood and making the games “cool” again. This is evident especially through old games that have been digitized; such as a lot of the apps we see on Facebook now. Using Monopoly as an example, it was an extremely popular board game when it first came out in in the 1970’s and later dropped in the widespread trends. Although never forgotten and surely still being played, more exciting and new games were created and popularized on the market that let Monopoly reduce in “coolness.” Years following, the game reverted back into a form of nostalgic greatness and was seen as something that could possibly be stated as “retro” to newer generations. The original board game became something like a collectible; along the same lines as having this game in your house made you “normal” and it was inevitable that if you didn’t have Monopoly, you weren’t “cool” either. With the never-ending advancement in technology, Monopoly has revitalized its status in the digital word – leaving its mark through online gaming and creating a nostalgic experience for todays users. It is interesting to think that we use the novelty of past things to recreate their significance in the present meanwhile remembering how amazing and culturally popular they were and becoming addicted to feelings.
Old Games and Children Groups
Research and thoughts by: Erin Sweeney
What is Guess Who?
Guess Who? is a two player board game designed by Ora and Theo Coster that was manufactured by Milton Bradley in the UK in 1979. In 1982 the board game came to the United States and has sense become one of the most recognizable and popular childhood games of individuals born during generation Y and Z. To begin gameplay each player must select a game board (the boards are usually either red or blue) that contains individual images of 24 characters displayed on cards. Next each opponent must select their own character from the character card pile and play it in their game board facing away from their opponent. Players will question each other until someone has figured out the card in the others possession. Questions are suited around the physical characteristics of the figures on the card. For example; one may ask “is your person female?”, “is your person wearing a hat?”, “does you person have blonde hair?”, etc. The person asking the questions can only ask “yes” or “no” questions and can only ask one at a time even if they are correct. As the player eliminate card they flip them face down so they can only guess based off of who is left standing. In order to win the game you must ask “is your player (insert name here)?” even if you only have one card left standing. The objective of the game is to determine the other players character before they have the opportunity to figure out who you have chosen. Recently deluxe editions of Guess Who? have been released including Star Wars, Disney and Marvel Comics characters. Up until the mid 2000s there was a ratio of 5 women to 19 men, since then some of the male characters have been eliminated to make way for new female characters in order to even out the numbers.
Guess Who? In Social Media
In 2011 two Miami students in an advertising school designed an app that allowed users to connect with their facebook friends and play an online game of guess who via their computers or mobile phones by taking their mutual friends as the character cards. If the user did not have anyone to connect with they could find someone they did not know to play with online. This is interesting because it is combining a childhood game before the advances of the internet and technology with our latest technological trends. Even though the app has not gone live it proves that people are still interested in their childhood and entertained by feelings of nostalgia and board games. (Lu and Leach)
Childhood Games Involving Teams
Two teams are determined and usually contain five or more players on each time. Teams line up across a field from each other and join hands so they are standing in a line with their arms apart. The teams take turns chanting “red rover, red rover, we call (insert name here) over”. Once a player is called them must run at the other team as fast and hard as they can in order to break through the opposing teams arms. If a player is caught in the other team they must become a part of that line. This will continue until a team breaks through the last two players hands.
Capture the Flag
Two teams are determine and each given half of a field, playground or other large area as their territory. They must both hide a flag somewhere on their side of the game. The teams must run into each others territory in order to find or “capture” the other teams flag. While players are on the side of the other time they can be tagged and placed into a “jail” where they must stay until someone from their team comes to free them. Usually some members of the team will stay behind to guard the flag or the jail. In order to win a player must find the flag and successfully bring it back to their side.
A scavenger hunt can be done as an individual but is usually performed in teams. Team numbers and number of players on a team will vary depending on group size. Each team is given a list of things they need to find or activities they need to do and are sent around a designated area in order to find said items. Once an item is completed it is crossed off the list. The teams are given a time and area in which they must meet regardless of whether they have completed the list or not. Teams will win by being the first one to complete the list and return to the location or having the most items crossed off their list. If a team is late they are disqualified.
These three team games include the players on the team having one common goal; to trap the other teams players and become the longest line, to capture the other teams flag and bring it into their territory and to complete their list of tasks first and beat the other times back to the location. These goals are all the same in the sense that they make the team work together to have an outcome in which their team will win. The games have a simple set of rules, however, players will have a better outcome if they work with their team to have some form of strategy. The first two games include physical contact with the other team in order to win while a scavenger hunt involves thinking over agility. In all of these games the players must be fast if they want to achieve points or win. The games are more successful with larger numbers of players.
Childhood Two Player Boardgames
Players are given separate boards with the backs of the boards touching so they cannot see each others game set up. They are given ships to scatter around the bottom part of their board that is marked with numbers and letters. The top part of the board is marked with the same numbers and letters as the bottom of their board. The objective is to guess to position of the other players ships by using the system of numbers and letters. Once you have made a hit on the other players ship you must guess spaces around that in order to try and sink it; you may have to hit the ship anywhere from two to 5 times depending on the ships size. Mark the space with a peg so you have an idea of where your shooting. When you are hit you must place a peg in your ship so you know where you have been hit. This game has been popular for decades and pre-dates world war one. Earlier versions of the game were played with paper and pencil but more recently users can download battleship apps to their Iphone, Ipod touch and Facebook.
Players choose to be either red or black and play their pieces on opposite sides of a game board facing each other. The players take turns moving around their chips from square to square in the hopes that they will “jump” and capture a piece that belongs to the other player. The game will go on until an one player loses all their pieces. The single pieces can only move forwards on diagonals, however, once a piece successfully reaches the other side it is crowned a king. When a player receives a king they can then move back or forth on a board in diagonals. Checkers is a popular game in online game rooms, on Facebook, as an Iphone App and is also featured on MSN messenger.
Connect Four is set up like a grid that stands upright where players are able to drop circular pieces into the columns. The point of the game is to get four of your pieces to touch or “connect” together in a line up, down or on a diagonal. Players can see which pieces are theirs because they are split into coloured groups (black or red). Once a line is formed a winner is determined. Made in 1974.
It is interesting that two of the three games studied here have gone digital. We are seeing a connection between games we played in our childhood and the technological advances that have been made within the last few years. It is as if we want to take the past with us into this new world of digital networking. Although these games seem like they were designed for us while we were growing up through the late 80s and early 90s it is important to remember that the games actually predate that and versions have been around in our parents and even grandparents generations. Since we are creating an art piece that is based around a two player game that we played but was also around before we were born it is important that we determine what it is about these games that make them classics. If we can create a space that both celebrates what made the original so entertaining by keeping most of the principles the same while still allowing us to put our own digitalized spin on it we will receive a positive audience response.
Apicary, Keith. track name Classic Gaming Wiz (Blue Hedgehog Remix). 15 01 2012 <http://keithapicary.bandcamp.com/track/classic-gaming-wiz-blue-hedgehog-remix>.
Baum, Deborah. Nostalgia Machines: Technology and Memory. 14 10 2011. 2012 01 29 <http://news.brown.edu/pressreleases/2011/10/nostalgia>.
Chayka, Kyle. Digital Nostalgia. 25 02 2011. 29 01 2012 <http://hyperallergic.com/19395/digital-nostalgia/>.
Couzin, Mary. Changing The Way We Play – Using Social Media Thinking to Advance Board Game Mechanics. 04 01 2012. 20 01 2012 <http://www.globaltoynews.com/2012/01/changing-the-way-we-play-using-social-media-thinking-to-advance-board-game-mechanics.html>.
Gordon, Gwen. What is Play? In Search of a Universal Definition. 20 01 2011 <http://www.gwengordonplay.com/pdf/what_is_play.pdf>.
Human Media Lab. press release: queen’s human media lab makes board games graphics electronic. 2010. 28 01 2012 <http://www.hml.queensu.ca/node/322>.
Lu, Luong and Jamie Leach. Digital Buzz. <http://www.digitalbuzzblog.com/hasbro-guess-who-social-iphone-app/>.
Navas, Eduardo. Text and Interview for the Exhibition “An 8-bit Moment in Gameplay”. 20 02 2008. 22 01 2012 <http://remixtheory.net/?p=292>.
NBC. factsheet. 2009. 25 01 2012 <http://www.ncb.org.uk/media/124824/no.3_what_is_play.pdf>.
Sutton-Smith, B. The Ambiguity of Play. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997.
Swalwell, M. “Ournal of Visual Culture: The Remembering and the Forgetting of
Early Digital Games: From Novelty to Detritus and Back Again.” Journal of Visual Culture 6.2 255.73 (2007).
TEDx. TEDxUSC – Kellee Santiago – 3/23/09. 17 08 2009. 19 01 2012 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K9y6MYDSAww&feature=player_embedded#!>.
Edited by: Karen