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Play in the Chinatown again

Yancy's picture

What a hot day! Amy and I walk on the street to find our destination-the train station for a long time. Compared to the Paoli Local, the way to R-100 is so long and this transportation is inconvenient for the students in Bryn mawr College. Finally, when we sit on the train, tiredness hit us and the views flashed outside the windows increase such feeling. It seems like we are in a forest, reminding me of my travel way in mountains in Taiwan. Trees fill up the blank space made by sky and sunshine. The music, coming out from the earphones of a man near me, and the tiny bumps made by the train, spread drowsiness among travelers. In Paoli Local, it is seldom to hear the music by others, and the air there is more serious. Here on the R-100, I thought I feel more relaxed.

In the first month in bryn mawr, almost every week I go to the Chinatown, but I never come here in the night. At this time, because of the Night Market, I stand in front of the familiar gate in the evening. There is a band here, playing amazing music with their guitar and drum. Suddenly, the voice stops, and handclaps come from another direction: comes the lion dance! Red, yellow and green lions jump in front of the band, and people around here start to take photos and cheer. We also cheer with them, although the lion dance is common in our country, we should cherish the chance of seeing lion dance in America. Walking along the main streets, we see different kind of food from various countries. Sellers make the food in stalls, and near the stalls, they prepare large, round wooden tables for customers to sit and enjoy food. Also, there are some stalls for public welfare volunteers to introduce their plans or do some research to visitors. Brazilian BBQ, Chinese bubble tea, fish balls, American sandwiches, pineapple rice...those delicious foods satisfy visitors a lot, and they standing in a line to wait for the food. With a cup of bubble tea in hand, I try my best to walk between so many people. People from different countries mix together and I have to stare at my mates to make sure I do not lose any of them. It is infrequent for me to see so many people gather together to eat, walk, talk or drink in the America. So, actually today’s situation reminds me of China. Almost every city in China has its own night market in common days, and in the evening, the old, the youth, men and women come to the night markets to eat local delicious food and play some interesting games, such as shooting the balloons or catching small fishes.

I think the activities in Chinatown are critical plays because they bring something new, something subvert or interrupt the original life style here in Philly. Those Chinese people come here, and they refuse to accept the ‘strange’ life style, so they bring their familiar ones here and create such special environment for them to ‘continue’ their lives in China. For example, the lion dance, paper lanterns, chopsticks, Chinese characteristics, Chinese food and even the night market, are not original in America, in Philly. But at present, they exist here actually. Why they do not hold the night market in other streets but in Chinatown? That is because the existence of Chinatown and its special characteristics are rooting deeply in people’s mind. In another word, the local people have accepted the change. I see many American in the night market and eat with Chinese people. I think they enjoy the activities because of their smiles. I re-read the definition of critical play from Mary’s book:

Critical play means to create or occupy play environments and activities that represent one or more questions about aspects of human life.(Critical play, Mary Flanagan, 6)

I think the basic reason for people to occupy some streets and build the Chinatown is the cultural difference. I can imagine the feeling of the first generation when they step on this area for the first time. Facing a totally different language, different lifestyle, different traditional ideas and even different appearances, they must feel really scared, and the Chinatown, is their haven.

Although the Chinatown successfully helps the first generation find their ‘home’, or provide a place for people from different cultures to learn more about China, I still keep my idea in the last paper: it fails to take the challenge to ‘offer novel possibilities in games and for a wide range of players.’ The speed of changing in Chinatown is too slow to follow the real speed of changing in China. In China, it is rare to see volunteers to do research in the night market or play lion dance in front of a jazz band! It is strange for me to see such combinations. While the Chinese life styles interrupt the local life, the local life also interrupts the Chinese life styles.


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


natschall's picture

1) what is happening in the

1) what is happening in the first paragraph?

Yancy has a short sentence that makes me want to read farther and hear about what she did in the city. She's bringing us through what she actually experienced while in the city/on the train. She makes us feel like we're there with her experiencing it as she does.

2) what is happening in you when you read it? what's your experience?

I am pulled in by the descriptions and very interested to hear what's going to happen next.

3) what "work" is your classmate doing? (what "work" are you doing, in response?)

Yancy is using a lot of descriptive adjectives. She is telling a full story, not just an essay, and connecting it to her life before she came to Bryn Mawr.

4) how is she "playing"?  (how are you "playing," in response?)

Yancy is playing with her descriptions. She is very rounded and makes sure to describe all the sights and feelings around her, playing the game of bringing us with her on her trip to Chinatown.

ecohn's picture

My reading of Yancy's introductory paragraph

  1. What’s happening to me while reading it?
    1. The first sentence caught my attention. I also started feeling tired. The imagery Yancy created also made me remember my own trip (and feelings) on the R-100. I completely agree about the inconvenience of the mode of transportation.
  2. What’s the author doing?
    1. Yancy used a short exclamation (as the first sentence) to hook the reader’s attention. Also, thanks to all the descriptive words she used to create imagery, she shows the reader her perception, and lets them imagine themselves next to her on the train; making them feel tired too.
  3. How’s she playing?
    1. Yancy created an attention hook, used descriptive words, and recalled specifics from the event, such as the music from the man’s headphones.
  4. Am I playing in reponse? (and how?)
    1. I really started feeling how she was describing the trip. I somewhat disagree with the last sentence, I feel like the lulling music and bumps did not relax me, but we all have different reactions to stimuli.