[Air-L] The Meaning of Play

Ren Reynolds ren at aldermangroup.com
Fri Feb 25 09:04:58 PST 2011

& with apologies to games scholars and twitter followers for cross posting
& general apologies for shameless self promotion...

I've been thinking about what play is for some time, I've now blogged these thoughts at a little length (3k+ words) over at TerraNova: http://terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2011/02/the-meaning-of-play.html

As I note there, I did this for a general reason: existing definitions did not satisfy me; and for a specific reason: I'm looking at the governance of online play by researching the history of sports law and governance and needed a theory that explained what is going on when law does not intervene in contact sports, even when there is injury. 

So this is a very general definition which I hope is useful in any field where one is looking at what play is, I'm interested in comments to help de-bug it:

Play is the recognised, negotiated, process of a purposeful shift in the dominant meaning; and contextual attribution of value, of acts.


Games are normative forms of play.


ludic-meaning - the meaning that has been shifted or attributed

ludic-semiotics - the system of the signs product through play

ludic-capital - the degree to which these ludic-meaning and semiotics are operational in a given context e.g. when set against institutional-capital.


Magic circle - the term we use to denote the bounds of the context wherein the ludic-meaning of an act prevails over the co-existing non-ludic meaning (or lack thereof).

web: www.renreynolds.com

Think Tank: www.virtualpolicy.net

blog: terranova.blogs.com

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