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play out of expectation

Grace Zhou's picture

    I thought play is an act that mainly brings me happiness and joy before; however, after this trip, I found playing is not always that enjoyable. On the other hand, sometimes, it can bring me both the excitement and uncomfortable feeling, both nervousness and surprise.

    In Flanagan’s work, she regards playing as a media to express subversive views- to break the rules. In the trips before, I never intentionally try to feel this. In other words, I just see the subversion in the mosaics by Zagar- the unorthodox expression of art with broken trashes and frameless piece of work. However, I never find the subversion in my playing in the city in those trips. The trip to old city and Chestnut Street this time leaves me an unforgettable and mixed feelings and thoughts.

    The subversive factor in playing not only involved in art but also in my travelling, which makes me a little bit uncomfortable and nervous. I break the traditional habit when I caught the different trains to the Philadelphia. Just like those artist who broke out against power, I am forced to listen to the voice of “marginalized groups” (Flanagan, pg. 11) in my heart, which is challenge and adventure. Normally, I really don’t want to leave the comfort zone: I like taking the septa I took before, eating in the restaurant I often visited and ordering the meal I had thousands time. Catching a train I know nothing really made me nervous. Also, I have regarded myself as a citizen in the Philadelphia where I live, work and play. However, when I brought my camera and visited old city with many tourists’ attractions, I feel like a stranger to this city, which makes me very insecure and uncomfortable. For the first time, I don’t want to be a player; I just want to be a normal citizen. By playing in the city, I subvert the traditional role before which doesn’t feel good.

    Although being subversive makes me feel abnormal, at the same time, I started to understand why the playing is subversive. Playing certainly adds more flavors to our placid daily life with its unpredictability. The uncertainty in the playing leaves much vacuum for people to perform and choose unorthodoxly. In this process, people have the access to the things they can’t or resist to express before. For example, the broken crafts give Zagar the place to create and collage. By playing, he broke the traditional rules in doing his work. For me, playing in the city drag me out of my comfort zone, forcing me to forget the former preference. It asks me to choose different scenes I never faced before in playing- not the normal sightseeing I had before, on the new way to the city, I saw the natural and wild forest and beautiful golf court instead of malls in Ardmore or the cute station in Wynnewood. This trip really surprises me.

When I walked through the Chestnut Street, I was a little disappointed- it’s not an amazing street with both historical and modern feeling I imagined before. When doing research, I thought it combines the tourists and citizens, old residence and fancy shopping districts. However, when I really stood on the street, it’s a normal place with little people in the morning. The citizens and tourists never interact as I walked through. The quiet residence and various delicate shops separate this street in completely different worlds. Maybe that’s the subversion in play- it breaks the image I imagined. Its unpredictability subverts the result and image I gave to this street even before I visited. Like the mosaic, playing in the city really can surprise me. Like the art “for both shock value and as against overly controlling aesthetics”, (Flanagan, pg. 10) playing gives me unfamiliar feelings and against the planned and order prediction I had in my mind.

Now, I know the play is subversion, from my own experience. Although at first I was resisted to change and break convention, I started to accept and enjoy the unpredictability the play and subversion brings me. To some extent, the uncertainty in play makes our life more colorful. Maybe, leaving the comfort zone and risk sometimes brings more fun and excitement than the stereotype and well-planned life does.


Work cited

Flanagan, Mary. Critical Play: Radical Game Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2009. Print.


lksmith's picture

Grace opens her essay with a

Grace opens her essay with a summary of her perspective on play and how that perspective has developed over the course of this last trip into the city. Instantly the reader can start to see the idea of play in the way that she does and this creates a connection between Grace and the reader. Also, she describes play in a way that it is not normally considered to be which creates curiosity for the reader drawing them into the rest of the essay. These techniques were successful in making her essay both interesting and relatable right from the start and throughout the rest of the paper. 

playcity23's picture

jContrary to my writing

jContrary to my writing partners approach, Grace starts her essay off with a personal note. She doesn't try to get the reader's feet wet but instead, tries to relate to the reader by finding a common ground through emotions associated with play. She plays by leaving her analysis to the body of the essay, also inviting her reader to keep reading. She starts off with something rather unconventional (that play is not always fun, which asks the reader to think about whether it is still play if it's fun) and ends with nervousness, another unconventional feeling. All in all, her writing strategies are rather effective.