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Article

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Play Elements in Computer Programming

Samantha Breslin

Abstract:

This article explores the role of play in human interaction with computers in the context of computer programming. The author considers many facets of programming including the literary practice of coding, the abstract design of programs, and more mundane activities such as testing, debugging, and hacking. She discusses how these incorporate the aesthetics, creative imagination, and game play of programmers. She suggests that the seemingly intractable and unplayful elements of computers, in fact, invite playful responses and actions by programmers and that programmers use play to understand, engage with, and creatively imagine and reconfigure the complexity of computer systems. She concludes that human-machine relationships and computer programming constitute fruitful areas for further play research. Key words: computer programming and poetry; debugging; hacking; human and computer relations; play and computers; testing