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Play Matters

(Playful Thinking)

3.53  ·  Rating details ·  114 ratings  ·  21 reviews
Why play is a productive, expressive way of being, a form of understanding, and a fundamental part of our well-being.

What do we think about when we think about play? A pastime? Games? Childish activities? The opposite of work? Think again: If we are happy and well rested, we may approach even our daily tasks in a playful way, taking the attitude of play without the activit
Hardcover, 158 pages
Published August 1st 2014 by Mit Press (first published January 1st 2014)
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3.53  · 
Rating details
 ·  114 ratings  ·  21 reviews

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Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A compact but deep analysis on play and design making clear what important role play has in our current computated world.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
The account of play in Play Matters is quite interesting, though too unsystematic and too rooted in postmodern ideas. The account also suffers somewhat from “Huizinga-Syndrome”— that is, finding “play under nearly every rock in the social landscape” (Suits, “Words on Play”). One of the central aspects of Sicart’s account is that play is appropriative: it takes over other parts of our lives and experiences. This tends to assimilate everything as play. Seeing play as carnivalesque, as Sicart prese ...more
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
The low rating is largely caused by the absolutely horrifying reading experience of this book. Whereas many journals caution their authors to make as few footnotes as possible, Play Matters takes the opposite approach. About a third of the book is footnotes. All of the actual scholarship is hidden in the back, while the main text reads like a strangely ungrounded manifesto about how everything is play. It's a jarring and annoying reading experience to have to go back and forth between the text a ...more
Oct 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: digital-shelf
oh i do like reading sicart. i appreciate his direct writing style. this wasn't exaclty revolutionary or anything but it did give me couple of ideas for my paper. good read
Sandy Morley
Aug 22, 2018 rated it did not like it
I can suffer the excessively academic writing style, and I can put up with nonsensical curveballs like "all computation is play," but the author makes the critical mistake of never presenting anything new, and never presenting anything old with a new or interesting context or perspective.

If you've read one book about academia's version of play, you've definitely read this.
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An excellent map of the ecology of play. I like the notion that play is negotiated between all agents, designers and players and that it should be architected through setting a stage with purpose. This book is a welcome inspiration how systemic thinking and pattern creation prevalent in design can be complemented to facilitate playful interactions.
Kamil Kopacewicz
Apr 22, 2018 rated it it was ok
The author seemed very sure and proud of himself, but the overall effect was mediocre. Bold statements, not grounded well enough. Also putting 1/3 of a book into indexes should be a crime of some sort.
Luke Paulsen
Dec 27, 2017 rated it did not like it
The most charitable description I can give of Play Matters is that it would make an awesome "links post". It constantly refers to all sorts of fascinating anecdotes and products of what I'll call avant-garde game design-- everything from exotic LARP scenarios to silly smartphone apps to illegal subversive competitions to frustratingly addictive Flash mini-games. I was itching to explore a lot of the endnote references-- and frustrated by the fact that they were useless URLs in print form.

On the
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Full disclosure: I read this text as part of further developing an analytic framework for tabletop role-playing games. Sicart's analysis is incredibly useful in this context, but can also aggravate with a few myopic moments.

The core of the book: that play is where we can find meaning being made and a lot of what we do builds from play, and there are benefits to maintaining an attitude of playfulness. This is an incredibly useful and important palliative against games studies folks who articulat
Apr 09, 2019 rated it did not like it
A verbose collection of navel-gazing that would have been better delivered as an academic paper or a series of blog posts.

This content has little business being a stand-alone book, as it establishes a vocabulary of ideas and then does nothing with them. It neither brings new ideas, nor provides any insight into established ideas.
Duy Nguyen
Apr 24, 2018 rated it did not like it
Painstakingly dry so far. I think the book aspiries to so much but achives so little. Besdides some interesting points on play vs playfulness, the whole account doesn't coherently form or argue for any substantial claims. It's jumble mess of ideas that often contradict one another, i.e play is in everything, yet not everything is play
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Intéressante démarche de réflexion quant à ce qui fait le jeu au sens large (« play » ).

Dommage, toutefois, que l'écriture soit assez répétitive et perde en clarté dans les derniers chapitres.
Steven Hart
Aug 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Interesting and full of good thoughts, but a bit aloof and disorganized.
Tara Brabazon
Oct 03, 2014 rated it liked it
This is an introductory text to theories, patterns and behaviours of play. It does feature some scholarship, but its key role is to provide a foundation for the understanding of play. There is attention to organized and disorganized play, banality and the carnivalesque.

The book is short, but useful.
Jan 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, design
Hands down the best book I have read on play since The Well-Played Game. Short but profound and incredibly welcome in its attempt to shift the conversation from games as artifacts to play as activity.
Jun 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Interesting take on how play is everywhere, and the world as we know it exists because of it. I'm glad it didn't relegate play to children, and it look into how computers can play a role but cannot engage in play itself. Learned a lot of new words for sure!
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Delightful, thoughtful, thought-provoking. I like reading about games and play as much as I like games and play, and possibly more!
Kris Chen
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was ok
deadly dry and meaningless
Mills College Library
155 S565 2014
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Christian Ramsey
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“The main difference between play and playfulness is that play is an activity, while playfulness is an attitude.” 1 likes
“Play is the struggle between order and chaos, between the will to create and the will to destroy.” 0 likes
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