August 28th, 2006

A few weeks back, inspired by Julian Dibbell’s new book Play Money, we talked a bit about boundless play. More recently, I’ve been reading Marie-Laure Ryan’s Avatars of Story, complete with some extra wisdom on the topic:
“Following Plato, Roger Callois (1961) distinquished two types of games: ludus and paidia. Ludus corresponds to what Jesper Juul calls the ‘prototypical game situation’… Paidia, meanwhile, is a free play without computable outcome, characterized by ‘fun, turbulence, free improvisation, and fantasy’ [quoting Warren Motte’s Playtexts: Ludics in Contemporary Literature]. While ludus dominates board games, sports, and many computer games, especially FPS, paidia is represented by all the games that are played for the sake of an imaginative experience: children’s games of make-believe, playground activities, the use of toys, the transgression of social rules that takes place during the carnival, and within video games, by the so-called simulation games… in which players manage a complex system and observe its behavior, rather than trying to pass levels or beat opponents” (Ryan, 198).

Sounds about right to me. As for me, give me social transgression and make-believe any day!

Tags: Blog

2 Responses to “Let’s Play Make-Believe”

  1. Cybersexy Says:

    Bonnie, I soooooo agree with you! MMORPG’s should be just settings for play. If the setting is a good one, the players can use their imaginations (possibly thru roleplay) to take it wherever they like.

    For me, the true test of any game is how much fun it can be outside of the level grind. It is nice to be able to log into a game and know I can have fun no matter what I decide to do.

  2. Bonnie Says:

    And yet I know so many people who adore the grind… but, amusingly, in a love/hate kinda way (I’m thinking specifically of a passage from Play Money). Sometimes I think player masochism instead of player fun prevails :).

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