Volume 8, Number 3
The author reviews historical attempts—mostly by European thinkers—to characterize modernity and its relationship to play. He discusses ideas from Friederich Schiller to Brian Sutton-Smith, all to set the ground for a theory of play in the modern world. Emphasizing the ideas of Max Weber—in particular his theory of rationalization and its importance for expressive culture—the author explores the value of rationality to a theory of play. He defines play more broadly than as a pastime and learning aid for children or a rough-and-tumble developmental tool in the evolution of mammals. Instead, he bases it more squarely on his concept of “emotional destinations.” In the process, he looks at kinds of play not often considered in play studies, such as professional sports and official festivals, and finds play not just a ubiquitous biological phenomena but also an essential social activity. Key words: emotional destinations; Max Weber; modernity; play and the modern world; rationalization
Because children spend so much of their time in schools, their playgrounds offer a good setting for promoting active play in young lives. Teachers, instead of considering active play a taxing demand on their busy day, have begun to develop an informal curriculum for it. The authors review the research on children’s active play and explores its influence on school playgrounds, looking at studies of individual and social play, the effect of physical environments on active play, and the impact of school polices on children’s active play on school playgrounds. They ask others to consider the implications of this research when planning children’s active play. Key words: active play, playground interventions, school playgrounds, socio-ecological model; influences on unstructured play
Flow experiences (also known as optimal performance) occur when people engage in activities they enjoy. The authors discuss such events in their study that examined a number of healthy, active individuals (performing artists, athletes, and others engaged in a range of recreational activities) and divided these into three groups based on adverse childhood experiences. They found that, although flow is higher among the individuals who experienced more adversity in childhood, this same group also had more difficulty regulating emotions and more frequently employed emotion-oriented coping strategies under stress. They also discovered that, compared to the athletes and regularly active individuals, performing artists suffered significantly more adversity in childhood and engaged in more emotionaloriented coping strategies. All three groups, however, enjoyed high autotelic flow experiences, which—so the authors suggest—indicates that the subjects derived meaning from their preferred activities. Overall, the authors claim, their study’s findings reinforce the psychological benefits of flow-based experiences. Key words: adverse childhood experiences (ACE), coping strategies, dispositional flow, flow experiences and athletes, flow experiences and dancers, regulation of emotions
Although exposure to traumatic events runs high among Americans, only a few—about 8.7 percent—of those exposed to such events develop symptoms that warrant a diagnosis of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The authors investigate two groups—dancers and athletes, including some who suffered from PTSD and some who did not—and found a higher frequency of PTSD diagnoses than would be expected in the general population and more so among the dancers than the athletes. Both groups indicated that the creative process was a positive experience, but the PTSD group reported more anxiety and emotional-oriented coping while creating and during stressful situations. The authors conclude that, although engaging in adult forms of play may not eliminate PTSD, participating in preferred physical activities may enhance the self-efficacy and self-management of those who do suffer from it. Participation in these activities certainly offers them pleasure and meaning. Key words: coping strategies, creativity, emotion regulation, overexcitability, play, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The author uses his father’s autobiographical writings about the small-town, baseball experiences of his youth as background for discussing the significant cultural shifts that have dramatically changed the nature of the game from a free-play experience for neighborhood kids to an organized youth-league sport. In contrast to his father’s day, the author claims that the playfulness of youth baseball has become nearly extinct. After a brief overview to define the essence of play, the author explains how his father’s kind of free, unstructured, deliberate play has been diminished by complex cultural and social shifts such as rationalization, suburban sprawl, and changing child-development philosophies. He concludes that the continual decline these forces have created in free play will not only significantly influence the future of baseball as a sport but also the quality of children’s growth, development, and health. Key words: changes in children’s free play; sandlot baseball; unstructured play; youth baseball
Dennis McCarthy states that to be an effective child psychotherapist, one needs to be a philosopher, an archaeologist, and a seeker. McCarthy accomplishes all three in his edited book, Deep Play: Exploring the Use of Depth in Psychotherapy with Children, by bringing together a wide range of seasoned child psychotherapists who predominately use play, sand play, drawings, clay, and water in their clinical work with children. Unique to the contributors is that six of the ten authors are male, an unusual phenomena in a branch of psychotherapy that is heavily dominated by women.
In Princess Cultures: Mediating Girls’ Imaginations and Identities Miriam Forman-Brunell and Rebecca C. Hains have compiled a collection of essays that discuss a vast range of representations and depictions of princesses, especially in a culture created for and aimed at girls. As the editors acknowledge, “Princesses are everywhere there are girls” (p. xi). Disney princesses have been around since 1937 when the company’s first feature-length animated film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, appeared in movie theaters across the United States. Yet there are a range of princesses beyond the Disney canon that have become part of childrens’ cultures through an array of venues. Films, books, video games, and dolls are some of the ways in which children, mainly girls, come in contact with the ideals of royalty through the image of the princess.
The subtitle of Gary Fine’s new book on chess is significant, for he is an ethnographer who is most interested not so much in the game itself as in the communities that develop around it among the players, the teachers, and the kibitzers who comment ceaselessly on matches in progress. Chess, Fine points out, is relentlessly social, for even a brilliant move (and he notes “brilliance” is a much sought-after quality in chess) requires that an opponent help create the position that makes the move possible.
With Once Upon a Playground: A Celebration of Classic American Playgrounds, 1920–1975, author Brenda Biondo has compiled a beautiful collection of images of American playgrounds that spans over fifty years. She frames many of these colorful pieces of playground equipment within spacious landscapes and skyscapes, and in doing so these apparatus tend to jump off the page. The absence of children on these play structures accentuates the structural qualities of each piece.
According to the remarkably concise definition provided by Sebastian Deterding and his coauthors in a 2011 article, gamification is “the use of game design elements in nongame contexts.” Assigning points, badges, and rewards to loyal customers, monitoring one’s performance while jogging and comparing it with that of other joggers, and dividing one’s process of learning math or a foreign language into challenges are all classic applications of the precepts of gamification. Now that the pervasiveness of gamification as a ubiquitous buzzword—Gamify your business! Gamification for learning!—has started waning, it is possible to reconsider its applications and consequences with the due critical distance. The Gameful World, a hefty anthology edited by Steffen P. Walz and Sebastian Deterding, aims at discussing the process of the ludification of everyday life, culture, and work, of which gamification represents a notable epiphenomenon in the context of a scholarly debate that eschews hyperboles and sales pitches. Divided into three sections—approaches, issues, and applications—the book proposes a series of articles that explore specific themes and juxtaposes them with concise, often provocative, position statements that act as counterpoints.
During U.S. Senate hearings in 1954, legislators warned the public of the sadomasochism being taught to our children in colorful comic book pages by Wonder Woman, the dangers inherent in Superman, and the homoerotic perils posed by Batman. Thirty years later, Senate hearings focused on the hazards of Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop” and Madonna’s “Dress You Up.” Politicians and lawmakers have now shifted their focus from paper comics and pop music to video games. In the past twenty years, dozens of laws have been passed, federal hearings have been held, presidents have expressed their fears, and cases have been presented before the U.S. Supreme Court in an effort to protect our society from the digital menace. In many ways, The Video Game Debate: Unravelling the Physical, Social, and Psychological Effects of Digital Games presents a rebuttal to the rising moral panic surrounding video games. Editors Rachel Kowert and Thorsten Quandt have gathered a group of top scientists in order to create a book with ten chapters addressing a diverse selection of related video game topics. Written primarily for an academic audience, this book is packed with references, theory, research, and statistics.
Cognitive dissonance theory, social comparison theory, social identity theory, social learning theory, self-determination theory, self-perception theory, self-categorization theory, deindividuation, priming, psychological reactance, emotional contagion, Asch phenomenon, law of diminishing sensitivity, loss aversion bias, status quo bias, benign versus malicious envy, ego depletion, variable schedules of reinforcement, big-fish–little-pond effect, anchoring effect, Dunning-Kruger effect, and reciprocity effect, Zeigarnik effect. If you took Psychology 101 in college you no doubt recognize at least a few of these terms, and if you followed that up with a midlevel course in social psychology you may recognize most of them. Jamie Madigan defines and uses all of these terms, quite appropriately, in his delightful book, Getting Gamers.
Thomas S. Henricks is the J. Earl Danieley Professor of Sociology and Distinguished University Professor at Elon University. He established the program for sociology majors and developed the Faculty Resource Center at Elon. He also served as dean of the social sciences department and associate dean of the university. His publications include Play and the Human Condition; Disputed Pleasures: Sport and Society in Preindustrial England; Play Reconsidered: Sociological Perspectives on Human Expression; and Selves, Societies, and Emotions: Understanding the Pathways of Experience.
Brendon Hyndman is Program Manager of the Bachelor of Teaching & Learning curriculum at Charles Darwin University in Australia and also serves as lecturer in its School of Education. Hyndman has authored or coauthored more than four dozen articles and book chapters on creating play spaces for children in early education settings. His research on school safety, physical activity, and the effects of the Lunchtime Enjoyment Activity and Play intervention has appeared in such journals as Australian Journal of Teacher Education, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Journal of Physical Education and Sport, and Journal of School Health. Amanda Benson is Senior Lecturer for the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. Her areas of research include physical activity, resistance training, and technology-based interventions within school settings and among individuals with Type 2 diabetes. She has contributed coauthored articles to numerous health and science journals, including the European Journal of Sport Science, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, Physical Education and Sport Pedagogy, and Sports Technology. Amanda Telford is Associate Professor for the School of Health and Biomedical Sciences at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia. Her research examines the use of technology to promote physical activity in secondary schools. She is the former chief investigator for the state review of the Victorian Certificate of Education, and her writings on how family, community, and school environments affect a child’s physical activity have appeared in, among others, the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, Health Promotion Practice, and Journal of School Health.
Jay C. Kimiecik is Associate Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health at Miami University. He has written, lectured, and led workshops on numerous self-help development and family health-related topics, including health behavioral change, the social psychology of sports and exercise, and how families influence adolescent physical activity. He is the author of The Intrinsic Exerciser: Discovering the Joy of Exercise and Personal Fitness Program: 12 Weeks to a Better You, and his coauthored book chapters and articles have appeared in Advances in Sport Psychology, Handbook of Research in Applied Sport and Exercise Psychology: International Perspectives, Journal of Applied Sport Psychology, and Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport.
Paula Thomson is Associate Professor at California State University, where she also serves as dance coordinator in the Department of Kinesiology. For the last three decades, she has held teaching appointments at Juilliard School of Music, Banff School of Fine Arts, and the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and a certified sports psychologist and has been named one of the top twenty female professors in the state of California. S. Victoria Jaque is Associate Professor and Co-Director of the Exercise and Psychophysiology Laboratory in the Department of Kinesiology at California State University. Her research focuses on factors that influence the development of peak bone mass, including gender, dietary restrictions, and bone mineral density during adolescence. Thomson and Jaque have coauthored nearly two dozen articles on the effects of stress on performing artists, athletes, and patients with functional disorders. Together, their research has appeared in the Encyclopedia of Creativity, Psychology of Aesthetics, Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, and International Journal of Sport Psychology.