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[Xmca-l] Re: Do adults play?

I wanted to point to a recent study by Dr. Jerome Siegel of U.C.L.A. that has implications about the brain and play, suggesting that a neurotransmitter that is much reduced in brains of people (and dogs) with narcolepsy has also come to be seen as a key to joy: "Release a dog into a yard to run, dig and play, and its hypocretin levels soar. But force the same dog to run on a treadmill, and its hypocretin levels remain flat." (http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/21/from-a-sleep-study-clues-to-happiness/?_r=0). 
I think it speaks to the distinction between play and other activities that some might see as leisure-like and picks up on the joy factor that Feynman is also clearly illustrating. 

More in line with Activity Theory though, I also wanted to add to the discussion of play a few footnotes about research done at the Workplace Technology Research Group at City University of New York, stemming originally from Sylvia Scribner's Laboratory for Cognitive Studies of Work. We made work simulation games that engaged workers in play in order to cultivate paradigm shifts in working groups with the implementation of new technologies and/or organizational reorganizations. The games were highly designed through ethnographic research about the actual workplaces; and they were structured to enable departure from the everyday while triggering default patterns of workplace behavior in the context of play so that organizational problems could be recognized by groups of participants, and new solutions could be constructed; toy-size objects resembled the real workplace products in some obvious but untechnical ways that used the doubling potential of language and enabled a point of view on the whole. And they were fun. I wrote a paper years back based on the research we were doing, called "8/18/97 Bite me": Resistance in learning and work (Mind, Culture, and Activity Volume 6, Issue 3, 1999), where there is an extensive description of the game process developed for workers in NYCTransit Bus front line maintenance depots. Similarly my dissertation focused on possessive expression in participant writing and psychological ownership in a game with gear manufacturing managers. [Possessive Expression at Work: "those Machines are Mine" (CUNY 2005) reprinted as Belonging(s) at Work: Psychological ownership at the end of the industrial age (VDM Verlag, September 6, 2009)]. 

Key to all of that work was the game as play, as fun and experimental spaces where individuals could engage each other in a very different way than they did in their day to day work roles. I realize games are not the essence of play, but in adult life, games that free adults from the constraints of reality and enable experimentation, fun, and innovation can be very playful and productive in a developmental sense. I am not sure if the hypocretin levels rose while our participants played the work games, but I wouldn't be surprised if they were a lot higher than when these same people returned to their toolboxes and desks. And I did see the rise of possessive expression...

Now I work with adult college students and incorporate games into my classrooms all the time. Usually these experiences take the form of the Jigsaw classroom model as a way to have students "Be the Brain" together by each researching a piece and coming together to learn about each other (as in "I'm Amygdala..."); or be the history of psychology together by each researching a theorist's life and work (as in "I'm Vygotsky"); or be a manufacturing company together using a nametag production game I developed  (Workgame.org). 

Jessica Kindred, Ph.D.
Faculty, Psychology
School of New Resources
The College of New Rochelle
1368 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11216
718 638 2500
646 725 4459

-----Original Message-----
From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of Barowy, William
Sent: Monday, October 21, 2013 9:28 AM
To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Do adults play?

Feynman played:

William Barowy, Ph. D. 
Associate Professor,
Lesley University 
29 Everett Street, 
Cambridge, MA 02138-2790 
Desktop: http://bill.barowy.net/ 
Mobile: http://bill.barowy.net/m/

"I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it."
--Pablo Picasso

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