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natschall's picture

I went to the city twice over the weekend. Friday night, I went on a ghost tour, and on Sunday, I wandered the city after dropping a friend off at Amtrak at 30th St. Station. This was my first experience going on the subway system (specifically, the Market-Frankford Line/El) for the first time. While in the city, I focused on how I was using the things around me as a method for playing, to see if I could figure out what ‘technology’ is from Flanagan’s viewpoint.

Our mode of transportation is both technology in the obvious way and technology that helps us play. Transportation, especially new kinds, can be very playful when you are first discovering its quirks and the way it works. I feel that an important aspect of play is discovering new things and having adventures. When I went on the subway for the first time, by myself, it was very new and stressful as I tried to make sure that I was on the right line and going to the correct stop. So this kind of technology is a game in and of itself, not just a method used to play another game or get to a location to play with something else.

But is technology also a barrier to playing? Can it be? I felt that figuring out the subway route on my phone was a kind of cheating since I didn’t have to look at as many maps and think on my own. It took out some of the adventure that should come with playing. While some types of technologies lend to their ‘game’ (subways, ghosts), some take away from the game that should be happening. When I’m looking at my phone, I sometimes feel like I’m blind to the world around me. I miss important things going on, interesting people that might have otherwise caught my attention. For example, while I was putting on my headphones on the subway and choosing a playlist, a family with a toddler got on and sat next to me. I almost missed the baby looking at me and reaching for my hair because I was concentrating on getting music. Technology distracts you from the world around you if you use it the wrong way, making it a severe detriment to play.

When I was at 30th St. Station, I saw an old man sitting in the sun outside. He had dragged a chair away from a table and turned it so he was facing the sunlight. He just sat there with his eyes closed, enjoying the warmth and noises of the city for more than half an hour. He didn’t seem to need any kinds of technology to play, unless you count the sunlight as his technology. This raised the question for me of what can become a technological device for play. Can even non-material things be a form of technology? To answer that I looked at my experience on Friday night. Were the ghosts the technology we used to play on the ghost tour? I believe so. They weren’t real things, in fact they were really just stories. But they were definite play objects to us. So perhaps a technology is how you define it, how you use it. Flanagan herself does not give a set definition for the technologies of playing, but she does give two ideas: first, that “Perhaps games are themselves a technology”, and second, that “Even play that does not involve gadgets or devices might be considered a technology” (Flanagan 7, 8). I believe this agrees with my thoughts.


Yancy's picture

In the first paragraph,

In the first paragraph, natschall describes her tour on Sunday as her ‘first experience going on the subway system’. It arouses my curiousness because when people experience something for the first time, it means they will have novel feelings and I’m interested in their reaction to the new things. Also, she mentions she wants to use things around her to understand the ‘technology’ by Flanagan’s book, which means in the rest of her essay, she will depict the things happened and combine them with the definition by Flanagan. Her beginning paragraph is very clear for audience to understand how the essay works.

ecohn's picture

My reaction to Natschall's opening paragraph

  1. What’s happening to me while reading it?
    1. I found a clear structure; she first introduced her general experience, then introduced what it meant to her (“my first experience…”), then inserted her thesis, comparing her trip with Flanagan’s writing.
  2. What’s the author doing?
    1. Natschall set up attention hooks both at the beginning, and the end of the paragraph, creating a very strong pull for the audience. Natschall also created a structure, as I wrote about above, which provided a solid flow of information (with suave transitions).
  3. How’s she playing?
    1. She played with structure a lot. She also threw in the name “Flanagan”, bringing us back to the whole “school” thing. 
  4. Am I playing in reponse? (and how?)
    1.  I found her opening paragraph very easy to follow, the style flowed nicely, with smooth transitions. 
natschall's picture

I forgot to add my works

I forgot to add my works cited--

Flanagan, Mary. "Introduction to Critical Play." Introduction. Critical Play: Radical Game Design. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 2009. N. pag. Print.