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Gabriela Gueorguieva - St# 205997424

Retooling the Learning Game

Sept. 23, 2008 The Definition of Play and The Classification of Games by Roger Caillois


Playing Video Games for pleasure In today’s society, many are eager to play video games because of the convenience factor. In other words, one can play video games anytime, any day and anywhere as long as one has an access to a computer. As Roger Caillois (1959) states, “play is defined as free and voluntary activity that happens only when the player(s) has the desire to play. Players are free to leave whenever they please and a player plays only if he wants to” (pg. 125). Coillois’s statement somewhat answers few of the questions that I have always been asking myself about video games. For example, why do people like to play video games? What do people get out playing video games? Continuing reading through the article, I also found to be very interesting when Caillois (1959) gives a clear definition of the word ‘play’. One would think of ‘play’ as a simple word, yet a word that carries multiple meaning. Caillois defines “play as an activity which is free (playing is not obligatory), separate (circumscribed within limits of space and time), uncertain (it can not be determined), unproductive (creating neither goods, nor wealth), governed by rules, and make-believe (accompanies by a special awareness of a second reality or of a free unreality)” (pg. 128). In other words, one must possess a great variety of skills in order to play certain games and when one plays a game, he/she is given the opportunity to win or loose in the virtual world, which is different than the real world. In the real world, if one looses then that may have a long lasting impact that may affect one’s life in a negative way. After reading Coillois’s article, and getting a good understanding of the word ‘play’, I decided to play the Wii Boxing game. Considering that I did not have any knowledge about the Wii Boxing game, I had an amazing experience while playing that game. It did not take me a long time to learn the rules of the game, and get used to quickly moving to the right, left, forward and backwards. I played the Boxing game with one of my friends, who even though had quite an experience, lost few times. The Wii Boxing game resembled the Agon, which Caillois defines “as a group of games that are competitive “(pg. 148). I enjoyed competing with my friend; my goal was to win the game even though it was not only physically but also mentally challenging. In other words, when you play the game, you must think and act briskly in order to avoid being hit by the other player.


This is the Wii Boxing Video Game I agree with Caillois when he states that “play is essentially a separate occupation, carefully isolated from the rest of life, and generally is engaged in with precise limits of time and place. There is place for play: as needs dictate, the space for hopscotch, the board for checkers or chess, the stadium, the racetrack, the ring, the arena, etc. “ (p.125). While playing the Wii Boxing game, I had the feeling that I was truly a boxer who was on the ring trying to win a victory. It was one of my favorite video games that I have ever played.


This is exactly how it looks when one is playing the Wii Boxing video game

Nov. 4, 2008 Theorizing gender and digital: Oversights, accidents and surprises by Jenson, J. & de Castell

Before taking this course, I thought that video games were mainly made for boys and boys only. Not only this but I strongly believed that males were the only people who were interested in and actually played video games. However, after few of the readings, especially after reading the article Theorizing gender and digital: Oversights, accidents and surprises, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that girls were also interested in and played video games.


Girls playing Video Games First of all, I strongly agree with Jenson. J. and Castell when they state that “games were seen less as a site for the production of ‘contemporary masculinity’ than as a leisure site in which, given time and permission, girls were as eager to spend time as boys” (2008, pg. 19). In other words, many people play games because they are considered free and optional activities. Coillois’s article The Definition of Play and the Classification of Games, confirms this statement by giving a clear definition of play. He defines “play as an activity which is free, separate, uncertain, unproductive, governed by rules, make-believe” (pg. 128). In other sense, when not pressured, one can play over and over and become perfect at it. After all, it is all about enjoying what one does in life.


Next, Jenson, J. and De Castell state that “observing the girls play, we noted that initially, there was a lot of chatter: how to hold the guitar, how to play, and encouragement. Not so much later, as the girls began to master the game, the chatter died away and we observed many play sessions with very little talk” (pg. 19). Being a female, I can state that girls are chattier than boys are because they like to ensure that they are knowledgeable and confident in playing the game. For example, when I started playing the game, Super Mario Brothers, I wanted to make sure that I was confident enough in order to individually play the game. During the process of learning about the game, I would constantly ask my friend questions, which my friend, who was familiar with the game, did not like at all.


I would like to conclude that although girls use different tactics, just like boys, girls like to play video games and in fact are very competitive at it. Whether it is a competitive video game or sport video games, girls enjoy playing video games. After all, one must remember that video games are relaxing, free and for many are activities that they play during leisure time.


Playing Video Games during your leisure time