The Paradox of Play

Blurred play The Paradox of Play

Play from the Start

When we are born, we don’t have a set of predefined rules imprinted on us about what we should and shouldn’t do or how we should and shouldn’t do it! Babies have a totally open and clear mind.

They spend their time learning everything they can, using all their senses. They learn the sound of their mother’s voice, the feel of her touch, the scent of her hair, all before they even open their eyes to learn what she looks like.

From that moment on, they are exploring their environment and learning. Everything is new to them, it’s exciting and probably terrifying in equal measure. Strange faces, strange smells, and tastes. People playing peekaboo, talking in strange voices and making odd sounds that should probably mean something, but don’t. They get bounced on knees, thrown in the air, passed around and cuddled like a toy. The experience new things called emotions; love, fear, joy, sadness and more. Read More ...

Exploring the Meta-Rules of Play

In my last blog, I introduced the concept of Meta-Rules. These were the non-system or inherent rules that actually guide how people play.

I spoke about them rather abstractly, describing them in the following way

These [meta-rules] rules are beyond what you would consider written or system imposed rules. These are fluid rules that can change moment by moment. These are the rules that define how play unfolds. These are the unspoken rules that children manage to communicate to each other when they are playing, where the situation is constantly changing, but they always seem to be able to adapt to the changes without fuss Read More ...

Playing with Thought Experiments and Meta-Rules

No great insights into gamification in this post, more me revisiting play, toys and games – again. When I need to clear my mind of clutter, I tend to consider the nature of play. That is probably why I write about it so much! I doodle about it on the plane, at night, when I have time to kill. I always come back to play. Dutch, a friend of mine in the gamification world likened it to Einstein’s “thought experiments”. Of course, I am not comparing myself to Einstein. The only things we have / had in common is dyslexia and a love (at one time) of physics. Read More ...

Fair Play: More Important than Rules

In gamification, we often talk about rules. They split games from play, fair from foul. However, just because you have rules, does not mean that everyone will feel that the game is fair!

This came to mind when I watched my youngest daughter’s reaction to being told she could not take a teddy bear to the nursery. The reasons / rules were explained, but that was not of consequence. Up until this point she had always brought toys in and more importantly – so had her friends. “It’s not fair” was about all we could understand through the distraught crying! Read More ...

Emergence: Learning to Love the Unintentional

Emergence in Games

Emergence is a well-known concept in game design. Emergent gameplay comes when players interact with the mechanics of the game creating situations that have not been deliberately designed.

This could be part of the game design or it could be unintentional. For instance, the game may offer several tools to solve a puzzle, but allow the player to use them in any way they see fit. If the puzzle requires you to reach an item that is high up, there could be an infinite number of ways to get it. Use a grapple hook, build a tower, make a jetpack and so on. Read More ...

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