📙 Play Anything
Author: Ian Bogost
Full Title: Play Anything
The gravest mistake we make about play is thinking that it is unbounded, evanescent.
Every Playground has two basic properties, which are two sides of the same coin: boundaries and contents.
Once a boundary is drawn, real or conceptual, a Playground’s contents are set into relief against all the materials the boundary excludes.
A Playground is a place where play takes place, and play is a practice of manipulating the things you happen to find in a Playground.
OUR WORLD IS jam-packed full of splendor and mystery, most of which we never notice as we ply the demands and dissatisfactions of our selfish lives.
Playgrounds aren’t things we create so much as structures we discover.
The good news is that Playgrounds’ pervasiveness makes them incredibly easy to find once you start looking. And once you do, you’ll see them everywhere. And once you see them, you can practice using them, ratcheting up the skill with which you identify and manipulate all the other Playgrounds you’ll discover subsequently.
A form of black magic is at work in games and play, the activities we most frequently attach to fun. We know they have power over people, but we can’t quite characterize that power, which makes it all the more tempting to find a way to control it.
Play is not only fun, not only a child’s activity, but also exploring the free movement present in a system of any kind, where system might refer to a social situation as much as a Machine assembly.
PLAY IS NOT an act of diversion, but the work of working a system, of interacting with the bits of logic within it.
Play entails a paradox: it is an activity of freedom and pleasure and openness and possibility, but it arises from limiting freedoms rather than expanding them. The boundaries of a Playground, the contents contained within them. Their structures.
Instead of calling everything a game, we should think of everything as playable: capable of being manipulated in an interesting and appealing way within the confines of its constraints.
My Home is a delightful Playground not because it’s large, but because of the variety of things I am able to do with it.
If you think about Gibsonian affordances in relation to Heideggerian presence-at-hand, the sum of a thing’s affordances represents all of a thing’s possible interactions with all of the other things with which it might interact.
Once the material conditions of an object or scenario are clearly understood, the permutations of interactions—all the Gibsonian, real affordances the thing might allow—represent the perspectives or experiences possible in relation to it.