Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Hari ini, saya dan teman saya, Kate Shively pergi ke kolam air di SRSC. Ini adalah pertama kali semenjak saya pergi berenang, terutama sekali di negara Amerika Syarikat.

That was fun. I absolutely enjoyed being able to write in my native language, even if it was just two sentences, and something that I have not done in a while. I had asked my husband about inspirations on what to write for the blog and he said "Write something in Malay".

I laughed of course, thinking him silly, but then I thought about it. "Actually, I'll do it! Since I'm playing around with words and it's a completely valid way of writing! I'll write my first few sentences in Malay and then translate it! Or maybe create a game and ask my audience if they can figure out what I mean!"

So there you have it. I'm still pondering if I will provide a translation of the statements above, but for now, I'll have fun with it. If anyone's really curious and know Kate Shively, you could always ask her what we did tonight!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Meeting Iqra

"Hey Lina."
Viggo inspecting the equipment


"So when am I meeting the kittens?"

"You gotta materialize for that to happen, and I am NOT calculating the wave function so you can be here."

"Blaaaaaah. Well what if I did the calculations ... would you do it then?" Iqra' looked at me imploringly as I pondered.

"Fine," I groused and laid out my equipment as Iqra' performed her mathematical derivations.

When Iqra' was finally done with her calculations, I proceeded to follow her scribbles.

"The kittens seem excited at the prospect of meeting me."

I grunted nonchalantly.

"You know, you need to be a little bit more careful with the materials. And remove that dastardly shiny thing. You are creating perfection."

I ignored her.

"Ugh, that color combination is terrible, Lina. How about ..."

I sighed in exasperation.

"Oookay. Somebody's grouchy... I guess I'll just wait Q-U-I-E-T-L-Y," whispers Iqra'.

The silence lasted all of two seconds and she began to speak

"I'm done," I interrupted her.

"Ooooh!! HI KITTIES!!!"

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Spontaneous play

In our chat earlier this week, my respondent made the distinction between spontaneous play as being social and intentional play as being directed and planned. Intentional play can be social in that friends decide to play together, but the nature of spontaneous play is more likely to arise from social interactions. This set me thinking about the nature of social play - is spontaneity more likely to occur or emerge as a result of the social interactions? Later, when I chatted with my respondent off the record, he noted that spontaneous play can most definitely emerge from planned play.

This reminds of me of Juul (2002), who identifies two basic game structures - emergence and progression. Games of emergence are based on simple rules and result in multiple variations that players can work with. Juul (2002) characterizes emergence in games as a result of rule interactions (i.e. A happens as a result of rule B), combination of rules and strategies that arise which are not immediately predictable from the game rules. Games of progression on the other hand, offer more control to designers in that players must proceed within a predefined framework in order to complete the game. Even as players proceed within a predefined framework or choose actions derived from simple rules, it is highly unlikely that designers can completely control players’ actions. This is especially pertinent given that players are able to modify both non-digital (i.e. board games) and digital games in many ways. In the former, players can change the rules of the game whereas in the latter, players create modifications to the software or hardware to execute functions that were not conceived by the original designers. While modifications are made by individuals, the changes to the rules impact normative structures and other social interactions, underscoring the social and communicative nature of games. While the description of play in my interview centered around types of play (e.g. spontaneous versus planned), it provided really useful insights into the changing nature of play - a theme that we have been encountering time and again.

This is of great interest to me given my design tendencies - what kinds of play would emerge from designed play? How would it align itself to the designed objective and how would players make sense of the discrepancies (if any) that may arise? Can we as designers create environments that might predict these sorts of emergent play?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Playmates and being serious

Last night, I spent time with two of my dear friends who will be heading off to Wisconsin and start a new chapter of their lives. I will miss Ellen and Gabe, because just as much as their my friends, they are also my playmates! In fact, Ellen was the one who drew me into board games, and I have thoroughly enjoyed our game nights. Ellen and I also played a lot in Taekwondo - while many would think of Taekwondo as martial arts and serious - the fact that I enjoy it and simply love it seems more like play than work.

This brings me to the second part of my post - being serious. I'm not comfortable with terms like serious games, or serious play, mainly because if one adopts the perspective that play allows us to engage in flow - in all likelihood, that state of flow is very much real and serious. By attaching terms like serious to play and games, it detracts from what play actually is and even makes it less powerful. The strength in a definition of play is precisely because it isn't easily bounded (even as I do try to define it - yes, yes - humans do like to bound the world). I fear that by making claims of serious play/games, we signal to others that play was all along not serious and does not involve high stakes. This is not at all true in a lot of cases! There is a lot of risk-taking in play, and most players take it seriously.

But I digress ... I am mourning the loss of my playmates - BUT with technology, we are able to still play together online and I am very much looking forward to my play dates!