Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Play Comp - Part I

I've officially registered for comp exams this semester and so it's time for some "nose to the grindstone" serious reading and prep work so that I have time to write the comps in two installments before the end of the semester. I'm going to hit up the play comp first, which is the only one finalized at the moment and which I'm supposed to schedule asap. Luckily, most of this is review work, since I did the bulk of my readings for this comp in the summer in the form of a directed reading with Rick Gruneau. Part 1 of my play comp consists of readings that explore the developmental aspects of play, and we've decided to include the following:
1. Bettelheim, Bruno (1987) "The Importance of Play" Atlantic Monthly, March: 35-43.
2. Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1991) Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
3. Paley, Vivian Gussin (2004). A child's work: the importance of fantasy play. Chicago: University of Chicago.
4. Pepler, Debra J. and Rubins, Kenneth H. (eds.) (1982). “Historical, Conceptual, and Definitional Issues” (pp. 4- 29) in The Play of children: current theory and research. Basel/New York : Karger. Includes: a. Rubin, Kenneth H. “Early Play Theories Revisited: Contributions to contemporary research and theory” (pp. 4- 14; b. Vandenberg, Brian “Play: A concept in need of a definition?” (pp. 15-20); c. Schempp Matthews, Wendy and Matthews, Robert J. “Eliminating Operational Definitions: A paradigm case approach to the study of fantasy play” (pp. 21-29)
5. Piaget, Jean (1965). The moral judgment of the child. The Free Press: New York.
6. Vygotsky, L. (1933). “Play and its role in the mental development of the child” in Bruner, Jerome S., Jolly, Alison and Kathy Sylva (eds.) (1976). Play: its role in development and evolution. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

I'm currently working through Csikszentmihalyi (which was recalled - boo!) and flow theory, which explores concepts of happiness through optimal experience, including play, of course, but also work, sports, everyday activities and interpersonal relationships. More than just an important theory for understanding play and digital game theories, however, this reading may actually serve the double purpose of providing tips to getting through comps successfully. For example:
The optimal state of inner experience is one in which there is order in consciousness. This happens when psychic energy--or attention--is invested in realistic goals, and when skills match the opportunities for action. The pursuit of a goal brings order in awareness because a person must concentrate attention on the task at hand and momentarily forget everything else. These periods of struggling to overcome challenges are what people find to be the most enjoyable times of their lives. A person who has achieved control over psychic energy and has invested it in consciously chosen goals cannot help but grow into a more complex being. By stretching skills, by reaching toward higher challenges, such a person becomes an increasingly extraordinary individual.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ooooooh...good luck with those comps....see you in the spring sometime when you pop you head back up