Fabulous new book by Ian Bogost called Play Anything
It makes me feel like this even though I’ve only read 10 pages so I have to post about it now!
Play Anything is an awesome book that discusses how we can overcome finding life mundane by transforming it into a world of endless, playful possibilities. Some people live like this all the time and innately surely we all have the capacity for it. This book seems like an exciting opportunity to remind yourself what you instinctively knew as a child when you had the capacity to create a game from ANYTHING – a pair of matchsticks, walking along avoiding cracks in the pavement, playing with the patterns on the wallpaper in your mind…
Doing what we can do to increase this vital capacity seems a good way to spend some time; approaching more of our experiences as being an opportunity to play, to explore, to be humbled and surprised by our potency within the world around us – imagined and real.
To do this authentically and helpfully, it seems important to have a light attitude in the way we play and the outcomes. Taking the attitude of just ‘seeing what is possible’ gives us insight to what was possible in that set of circumstances. When we play we repeat and adjust and the process of our tinkering and learning about the outcomes brings us pleasure. We assume we will have to try again, adjusting the parameters we have control over (i.e. I need more time to get ten balls of screwed up paper in the waste bin), facing reality (i.e. I need to practice more to do it in the time I gave myself), and stopping, resting, pausing when we don’t enjoy it anymore, knowing that the time away will have a role in enhancing our learning as well as the experience next time.
Some gems from the preface and the first chapter:
“Play isn’t doing what we want, but doing what we can with the materials we find along the way. And fun isn’t the experience of pleasure, but the outcome of tinkering with a small part of the world in a surprising way.” (page 3)
“Instead of seeing freedom as an escape from the chains of limitation, we should interpret it as an opportunity to explore the implications of inherited or invented limitations”. (page xi)
“The ultimate lesson that games give is not about gratification and reward, nor about media and technology, nor about art and design. It is a lesson about modesty, attention and care. Play cultivates humility, for it requires us to treat things are they are rather than as we wish them to be. If we let it, play can be the secret to contentment. Not because it provides happiness or pleasure – although it certainly can – but because it helps us pursue a greater respect for the things, people and situations around us.” (page xii)
Author’s permission received.