Children of today spend more time with children of the same age than ever before, and this affects the group-culture, where younger and older children spend their everyday life together, to diminish. This development has great consequences for the mediation of play from one generation to the next, because the circumstances for transmission have changed. This may be the reason why the games we played 50 years ago, now have disappeared from backyards, playgrounds and school yards.
But children are still playing, and they share and exchange play-media, play practices and play moods. The question of what and how the children share through the new possibilities and conditions becomes central; a question, which is a pivotal point for e.g. the PhD. project: Common practice – to have a practice in common. A contemporary social-analytic diagnosis.
How and what do they share?
Tobias loves fantasy, and fantasy is a re-occurring theme in the different types of play media that he and his friends use when they wish to play. He draws scary characters together with Adam, while they make up their own stories of orcs and heroic characters, who fight evil and use swords and shields or other types of weapons. He sits in front of the computer at least 2 hours a day with his friend Johan, and they play Warcraft, a computer game. During the weekends he plays live roll play in a nearby town.
Andreas, on the other hand, loves Harry Potter, and the boys in his class exchange spells on a daily basis: expectum petroleum, a spell that by the help of happy thoughts will call upon their guardian angels; they imitate Harry’s actions at the School for young wizards in their breaks and they swing Harry’s magic wand when they play Harry Potter on the Nintendo Wii.
In the two mentioned examples, the theme, here fantasy and Harry Potter, plays an important part in the children’s ability to share. The themes move across play-media and play genre, and, together, play-media and genres make up a kind of memory net, which the games share – entirely or partly. The possibility of sharing via the memory net is enhanced by the number of, and the access to, play-media and genre, through which the theme is played out: Game consoles, DVD’s, movies, books, comics, bed sheets, action figures stories, board games etc.
Playware can share and be shared
The idea behind Playware – as soft- and hardware facilitating playful experiences – takes part in these changes which we see in the ways children share, and in what is actually shared. When play-experts, who previously were the older children in the group, are more difficult to locate today, then there is a need for new play masters, and here Playware offers a solution. With a materialized “play master”, which manages and organizes play and games through soft- and hardware, the need for a master becomes less significant.
Furthermore, Playware products are essentially integrated in the memory net, and thereby a part of the culture of sharing, which the children use. Therefore we are able to say that Playware can both facilitate the exchange and at the same time be a part of what is exchanged.
If you are interested in learning more about the project, please contact PhD student Helle Skovbjerg Karoff or go to www.dpu.dk/om/hsk