Volume 11, Number 2



Olga S. Jarrett is Professor Emerita in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education at Georgia State University where she taught courses in child development, teaching methods for urban teachers, and a seminar on play. Her research has focused on science inquiry and the role of play in developing an interest in science, on service learning, and on recess behavior and the effects of recess on classroom behavior. She is currently working on a book about play and social justice. Past president of The Association for the Study of Play (TASP) and the American Association for the Child’s Right to Play (IPA/USA), Jarrett has received the Brian Sutton-Smith Lifetime Achievement Award for Play Scholarship and Leadership (TASP), the MLK Faculty Torch of Peace Award (Georgia State University), the Patricia Monighan Nourot Award for Building the Foundation of Play Scholarship (the National Association for Education of Young Children’s Play, Policy, and Practice Interest Forum), the Doctor of Play Award (IPA/USA), and the Joe L. Frost Award for Distinguished Research (U.S. Play Coalition). And she has lobbied for legislation in Georgia to mandate recess. In this interview, Jarrett links her childhood play experiences with her research and activism.
Key words: play and science; play and social justice; recess; recess legislation.


by Steve Wilcox


Game design offers a unique but often misunderstood pedagogical opportunity. The author draws on learning theory, feminist epistemology, and game studies to analyze a novel genre of games capable of realizing this opportunity by mobilizing knowledge through play—praxis games—founded on the concept of situated praxis. Situated praxis encourages the design and development of games that guide players to discover knowledge inside a range of communities, domains, and experiences. To demonstrate the applicability of such design, the author discusses his experience with games related to healthcare. Key words: feminism, game design, health care education, knowledge mobilization, learning and videogames, praxis

by Carrie Germeroth, Elena Bodrova, Crystal Day-Hess, Jane Barker, Julie Sarama, Douglas H. Clements, and Carolyn Layzer


The authors consider mature make-believe play a critical component of childhood that helps children develop new skills and learn to communicate. They argue that, although theoretical accounts of play have emphasized the importance of make-believe play for children to achieve social and academic competence, the absence of a reliable and valid measure of children’s mature make-believe play has hampered the evaluation of such claims. They seek to address this shortcoming with a review of the psychometric characteristics of existing assessments and with their findings from a new assessment using the Mature Play Observation Tool (MPOT), which they administered during a multiyear longitudinal study of twenty-six early-childhood classrooms. They found that children in classrooms scoring well on the MPOT better
perform such skills as self-regulation, literacy, and numeracy. Key words: make-believe play; Mature Play Observation Tool (MPOT); scaffolding; skills

by Evangeline E. Nwokah, Vanessa Hernandez, Erin Miller, and Ariana Garza


Language play is a key component of many children’s popular graphic novels. The authors analyze the sound and word play in Dav Pilkey’s illustrated Captain Underpants series. They argue that Pilkey’s literary devices fall into two main areas of hyperbole and linguistic creativity and that Pilkey’s language shifts the reader into a carnivalesque play frame. In Pilkey’s work, the use of language contributes to a humorous disconnect between a real word and its distorted counterpart and between real worlds and a parallel sphere of hyperbolic pretend play. Key words: language play, literary devices, graphic
novels, Captain Underpants, Dav Pilkey

by Peter McDonald


The author discusses Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens and the animating mood that it calls the “play spirit.” He argues that these styles of playfulness represent a major practical and theoretical contribution Huizinga offers contemporary studies of play, and he considers Huizinga’s methodology in a reading that runs counter to formal definitions of play. Drawing on phenomenological, linguistic, and hermeneutic elements in the text, he presents an alternative understanding of play’s form and what resists formalization. By attending to Huizinga’s hesitations and rhetorical excess in key moments of explanation, the article unvails the development of play spirit in Homo Ludens and its significance for the study of play and games. Key words: formalism; Johan Huizinga; interpretations of Homo Ludens; phenomenology

Book Reviews

by Frederika Eilers

Following a symposium at Bard Graduate Center in September 2015, Megan Brandow-Faller compiled this three-part volume that follows, in fourteen chapters, the themes of commodity culture, aesthetic reform, and political indoctrination in children’s material culture since the eighteenth century. The introduction discusses the cover image, Peter Opsvik’s Tripp Trapp highchair, but the book, in fact, highlights toys, not furniture. In general, it addresses the agency of children through a variety of archival evidence, including financial ledgers, commercial paper models, diaries, unpublished books, memoirs, and magazines.

by Stephen P. Demanchick

The landscape of play therapy publications has grown considerably over the past ten years. Books dedicated to specific play therapy approaches, diagnoses, and contexts are readily available for students, therapists, and educators. Stalwarts of play therapy Athena Drewes and Charles Schaefer have teamed up again to edit a wonderfully informative collection of essays focused on a wide array of childhood anxieties from nightmares to posttraumatic anxieties. Drewes and Schaefer assembled a strong and diverse group of authors, including researchers from the United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, and Japan. But most importantly, as the editors suggest, this text addresses the absence of evidenced-based, play-related applications in the current literature dealing with childhood anxiety. For example, many of the authors include a clear and separate section of outcome studies related to their essays. This seems to be an essential feature that can aid clinicians in making informed treatment decisions and help them move beyond an eclectic approach to treating anxiety.

by Susan Stebbins

The editor and contributors of Prehistoric Games of North American Indians have taken on the herculean task of weaving different subdisciplines, methodologies, and theories within anthropology to the often-neglected subject of games. The book examines games from a prehistoric archeological perspective, presenting adult games from various Native American societies in different geographic areas of North America that includes a broader context about games (and gambling) than we usually see in books on the subject.

by Alexander Smith

Few scholars have studied Sega longer than Ken Horowitz. Since 2003, Horowitz has administered the Sega-16 website while interviewing dozens of programmers, designers, producers, and executives who created games for Sega-console platforms. The culmination of this research arrived in 2016 in the form of Playing at the Next Level: A History of American Sega Games, which covered the exploits of Sega of America from its founding in 1986 to the conclusion of the Dreamcast era. In 2018 Horowitz returns to tell the other side of the Sega story—the thriving arcade game development divisions that redefined the medium on numerous
occasions. The result is a book remarkably broad in its coverage but uneven in its depth and focus.

by Torill Elvira Mortensen

Brendan Keogh’s A Play of Bodies: How We Perceive Videogames is an interesting read, particularly for its minute observations of how digital play actually happens, drawn from a massive knowledge of games. It is somewhat limited in references to game ethnography and play experience beyond the United States and Australia, but nevertheless, the connections Keogh makes between embodied play and contemporary game culture are strong and original contributions to the literature.

Carrie Germeroth is a Managing Senior Researcher at Marzano Research in Denver Colorado. Her research centers on early-childhood development and learning and early-childhood classroom quality. Her work appears in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Early Child Development and Care, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, American Journal of Play, and Phi Delta Kappan. Most recently, she was a coauthor on a chapter in the Oxford Handbook of Play. Elena Bodrova, is the Director for Research and Development at Tools of the Mind and a Research Fellow at the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University. Crystal Day-Hess is Assistant Director at the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy. Her work has been published in such journals as Early Education and Development and NHSA Dialog: A Research-to-Practice Journal for the Early Intervention Field. Jane Barker is a senior research scientist with Seattle Public Schools. Her publications have focused on experiments exploring environmental cues and inhibitory control in young children. Julie Sarama is the Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies and Professor at the University of Denver. Her research has been published in scores of journal articles, books, book chapters, and other publications. Doug Clements, Kennedy Endowed Chair and Professor at the University of Denver, is a researcher and curriculum developer and has published hundreds of research studies in books, book chapters, and additional publications. Carolyn Layzer is a senior research associate at Abt Associates in Boston. She leads evaluations of early learning curricula.

Peter D. McDonald is an Assistant Professor of Game Design at DePaul University and a fellow at the DePaul Humanities Center. He currently directs the Prototype Iterate and Playtest Space (PIPS) and has designed several games as part of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab at the University of Chicago. His work has been published in Games & Culture, Analog Game Studies, Loading…, and The Routledge Companion to Media Studies and the Digital Humanities.

Evangeline E. Nwokah is Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders and holds the Woolfolk Endowed Chair in Child Language at Our Lady of the Lake University, Texas. She has authored articles on child and family word play, verbal humor in children with hearing loss, games, pastimes and toys in African countries, and teen parent language and literacy programs. Her books include Play as Engagement and Communication. Vanessa Hernandez is a pediatric speech language pathologist in Texas and former graduate student at Our Lady of the Lake University. Her research focuses on creative naming in children’s literature, and she has coauthored work on slapstick humor in children’s literature. Erin Miller is a pediatric speech language pathologist in Texas and former graduate student at Our Lady of the Lake University. Her research focuses on children’s story retelling, and she has coauthored work on slapstick humor in children’s literature. Ariana Garza is a graduate student in communication sciences and disorders at Our Lady of the Lake University, and her research focuses on language play and child narratives with wordless picture books.

Steve Wilcox is Assistant Professor of Game Design and Development at Wilfrid Laurier University. He cofounded First Person Scholar, a middle-state (between blog and journal) publication on games and culture. He is also Editor-in-Chief of the Game Studies 101 website, a crowd-sourced and curated archive of games, criticism, and scholarship. His research focuses on using games as tools for mobilizing knowledge between bodies, communities, and cultures.