Building Better Business

RESEARCH continued...

Even uncomplicated ‘games’ include a multifaceted set of components.

We all know that people swiftly develop an understanding of the model of ‘a game’. A game schema provides a mental construction containing a number of elements, or 'slots', such as setting, goal, difficulty, and resolution/closure, also including fantasy, framework, players, game objects, game targets/goals, rules/recommendations and conditions, and the 'challenge'. This construct provides organisation and expectancies in a multifaceted interaction.

Present theories of play are usually structured around four topics: play as power, play as progress, play as imagination, and play as ‘self’. These themes have been inspired by the research of Brian Sutton-Smith (Pellegrini, 1995).

Play as development concerns the belief that the rationale of play is to discover something constructive. Play is a means to improve or facilitate psychological or social wants/needs. Play as ‘make-believe’ refers to play's role in invigorating and liberating the mind to engage in imaginative and inspired thinking. Play ‘as self’ is the most current of themes. It places significance on play's function as a way to attain most favourable life experiences. What is respected and valued here is the quality of the experience and not other less important results (eg learning). The chief issue here is the fundamental value of ‘an experience’.

Pleasure manifests itself when an activity meets one or more of the following elements:


attention is wholly absorbed in the ‘play’;


challenge is of paramount importance;


the ‘play’ offers understandable and reliable feedback - as to whether one is succeeding at reaching the objectives;


the ‘play’ has obvious intensions and outcomes;


the ‘play’ is so engrossing that it frees the player, at least momentarily, from other uncertainties and irritations;


the player feels totally in command of the ‘play’;


all feelings of negative embarrassment/self-consciousness vanish;


time is altered through the ‘play’ (e.g. hours pass without being aware).

Play develops into a model or performance of ‘real-life’ dramas (Roberts, Arth & Bush, 1959).

According to this supposition, playing games provide a socially acceptable means of rehearsing the necessary skills in personal interaction and problem solving that are needed through-out life.


Forencich, Frank, (2001) Play as if Your Life Depended Upon It. ISBN: 0972335803
Provost, J. A. (1990). Work, play, and type: Achieving balance in your life. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologist Press.
Roberts, J. M., Arth, M. J., & Bush, R. R. (1959). Games in culture. American Anthropologist, 61, 597-605.
Sutton-Smith, B. (1995). Conclusion: The persuasive rhetorics of play.
In A. D. Pellegrini (Ed.), The future of play theory: A multidisciplinary inquiry into the contributions of Brian Sutton-Smith, (pp. 275-295). Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

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