Week 32: 19th – 23rd Sept. 2016


Method test on the ground

Carried out in Potsdam on 20, 21 and 22nd Sept. 2016

Content research suitcase

Notebook, pens in different colours, tripod, poster, information flyer, maps, GoPro camera, microchips (two 64 GB), 5 extra batteries, mobile phone (includes Apps for noise level recording, interview recording, time, and weather analysis, panorama picture function), external hard drive  (2 Terra byte) for data storage.


20th September 2016

Inspection of location as well as testing of phase one (investigation for traces of play)

Location: pedestrian zone and shared space Brandenburger Strasse, Potsdam

Weather condition: sunny, no wind, 27 degrees

Notes: Took many pictures of grafitty, stickers on electricity boxes, marks on street furniture (including benches, bike racks and street light poles), bike rental station, bins with stickers, bicycles, charcoal drawings on footpath “Frieden”, flower beds, signs

Walked over to site two ( dutch quarter shared space environment). Due to the fact that there were no benches in the public realm I did not decide to go forward with this site. As agreed in the Ethics approval I need to remain in the public realm for research.

21st September 2016

Arrival at Position Nr. one (Brandenburger Strasse corner Lindenstrasse)

Time: around 6.30 am

Weather: temperature in the morning 14 degrees, few clouds, no wind, sunny

Noise level recording: Time 7:05 am (Normal conversation level, loud singing, inside car) –> dB statistic on external hard drive)


Notes are recorded in the black notebook.

Reflection on my own action:

In the beginning I recorded too much information and feelings –> the later the day it became more and more clearer what is relevant information and what is less useful.

  • people started to walk through the area from 7.20 am onwards
  • most playful behaviour is riding bike, listening to music, playing on mobile phones, window shopping, play around, joking around
  • morning tea (warming up from 8.40 am -9.20 am)
  • all three additional camera batteries were all depleted  at 12 noon –> abort observation for the day and trying to get more battery packs.
  • through traffic was possible (for vehicles)

First position:



Arrival at second position: Brandenburger Strasse corner Dorusstraße at 9.20 am

Weather: temperature in the morning 21 degrees, no wind, sunny

Noise level recording: Time 9.47 am (Normal conversation level, inside car) –> dB statistic on external hard drive)

Reflection notes:

  • Street dynamic has changed as bicycles starting to disappear. Pedestrians take over.
  • New kinds of play behaviour starting to emerge: more groups, people walking hand in hand, more people walking their dogs, more people on phones and window shopping.
  • Data is listed in detail and recorded on external hard drive.
  • try to record a 360 image
  • through traffic for vehicles was partly possible (one side only)




In the afternoon results of playful behaviour have been added to the assessment matrix.


 22nd September 2016

Arrival at Position Nr. one (Brandenburger Strasse corner Herman- Elflein Strasse)

Time: around 6.50 am

Weather: temperature in the morning 11 degrees cool, light wind, sunny

Noise level recording: Time 6:51 am (Loud singing, inside car, normal conversation)

Remarks on recording:

  • much better in quality, richer and precise
  • I am starting to record just useful data in combination with time of activity and visual assessment in relation to body weight.
  • unable to contact and disrupt people in all kinds of play activity such as riding bike and listening to music and joggers
  • pavement type has an impact on movement and kerbs in relation to demarcation
  • through traffic was possible on one side only
  • due to the location near a landmark building more people stopped here and engaged in playful behaviour (in the form of photography) than in any of the other positions. –> perhaps a direct correlation between objects (built environments) and the subject




Morning break between 8:40 am – 9.20 am

Second noise level test: 10:03 am (loud singing, insight car, automobile)

Due to the cool morning temperature the battery life became shorter, despite of the fact that I had one more battery  I was urged to conclude observations around 1 pm.

–> need to get hold of at least two more battery packs. However I was able to use the afternoon to fill in the play matrix.


I was able to record until my batteries died. With the second microchip I can record now easily up to 10 hours of data. When exporting them onto the hard drive I am able to take high resolution screen shots of examples of playful behaviour. Also I can do an exact count of bicycles and pedestrians if required.

I found it difficult to leave the equipment behind and start unstructured interviews with people who displayed playful behaviour as there were suspicious individuals around, that could take advantage of the situation.

Also choosing my position based on the notion of available bench space may be not as optimal as vantage points. A small camping chair would be good to have.

The decision to drop the other street environments is due to the high amount of time it may take to storage, recharge and analysis the research data. This testing phase led me to the conclusion to drop two of the three subunits in each city in order to work with better quality data on a confined space. Otherwise I may need to spend carrying out research in each of them for 10-15 days (pending on weather condition) and almost the same time to analysis the data of each day.




Week 23: 18th- July to 22nd July 2016

Pokemon Go effect

Is Pokemon Go play? Depends on definition. The activity is transforming space and time, creation of an alternative reality with temporary nature. It has clear rules to follow (structured play) but to a degree self- directed as player can choose his route and where to go.

How does Pokemon Go functions as playful behaviour in relation to the triad of space:

  • People move in the perceived realm.
  • The game is constructed in conceived space by web architects
  • The experience will have an impact in the lived space in form of memory.


  • People are more physical active in the public domain
  • people create more passive surveillance
  • populate streets and parks more often
  • they play more


  • the memory may not generate value in the perceived realm. It distorts the quality of the perceived realm with reference to social connectivity.
  • unable to engage in the perceived realm to 100 percent, accidents and safety issues
  • walking zombie effect (random people stay alone)
  • excludes people without mobile devices
  • Commercial  benefits (people drop a nest in their shop, that increased visitors and thy will consume more) –> ideal product of a neo-liberal age (purchase mobile device, create software, visual merchandise, steer indirect human behaviour)
  • people can get addicted and lost/ sick


Pokemon Go news:

‘Pokemon Go’ Players Nearly Caught A Bullet After Being Confused For Burglars

Table for playful behaviour analysis during fieldwork

fieldwork play types can be downloaded here.


Sutton-Smith (1997). The Ambiguity of Play

The main tenet of the rhetoric of progress is that adulthood and childhood are quite separate, childhood being innocent, nonsexual and dependent (Benedict, 1938). It said that children’s and adults’ play are also quite different, that of children being open, cor creative, and that of adults being closed, or recreative. The desire for children to make progress in development and schooling has led to play’s being considered either a waste of time (the view of educational “conservatives”) or a form of children’s work (the belief of educational “progressives”). The one view is that play is not usefully adaptive, the other is that it is. p. 19

In relation to play culture of children

Most play studies in the first half of the twentieth century have been of the normative kind (Herron and Sutton-Smith, 1971). Even in the great original work of Piaget, Play, Dreams and Imitation in Childhood (1951),in which play is harnessed to cognitive development is laid before us primarily as a set of stages through which children must proceed both in cognition and in play. p.36

Developmental psychologies focused on mapping the increase complexity of the human organism.

“Within that inner life, play is a mental process that builds upon and integrates many other processes in the developing child’s mind- thinking, imagining, pretending, planning, wondering, doubting, remembering, guessing, hoping, experimenting, redoing and working through. The child at play, using these varied mental processes, integrates past experiences and current feelings and desires.” p.37

“I believe that play is the most ideally effective form of developmental aid because the child becomes familiar with the world, himself and his limits. p.37

Higher forms of play, as judging by imaginative or verbal complexity, are again and again correlated with higher forms of school-related social or educational sucess (Howes, 1992). p.39

Metanalyss of these multiple disparate studies, showing that play contributes to early development by enhancing adjustment and reducing language problems and socioemotional difficulties, with variances ranging between 33 percent to 67 percent (Fisher, 1992). p.39

Longitudinal research showing that the more interesting and fulfilling lives are those in which playfulness was kept at the center of things (Erikson, 1972; quoted by Bruner, Jolly, and Sylva, 1976, p.17). p.39

It seems that play is seldom the only determinant of any of the important forms of learning that occur in young children. Even if it does function in any such a way, it is only one of multiple influences (Christie, 1991). p. 41

The evidence of play studies and game studies is that complexity in play is highly correlated with age. So given this correlation, it is an easy mistake to believe that the major purpose of play development is to contribute to other kinds of age-related development- social, emotional, and cognitive. p.42

Another factor, which receives less attention and also confuses the relationship between play and development, is the finding that children appear to develop play skills through play, which enables them to go on playing with other children, thus substantially increasing their happiness. Sometimes their play skills enable them to become so competent that they go on to play on representative teams, to travel to other towns, cities, in games. p. 43

More generally, play skills become the basis of enduring friendships and social relationships and also offer a way of becoming involved with other children when shifting to new communities. Obviously this is also true for adults. Play is of direct value to those who are successful in their play. p. 43

Children are so motivated to be accepted in play that they make sacrifices of egocentricity for membership in the group. In addition there are ethnographic playground accounts, such as those of Hughes (1983) and Beresin (1993), that reveal that a great variety of social subtleties- about group membership and group power- are being learned and exercised in playgrounds. (…) Children do learn how to play on playgrounds and at other play places. p.44



The inability to play, as in case of mental illness or in highly stressful circumstances. What is remarkable is how some healthy individuals manage often to play in stressful circumstance (Eisen, 1988). p.45

Play as pathology; as in case of gambling addiction or in rigid forms of self-limiting repetitive behaviour; as seen in pathological patients or in those with character defects who confine themselves, to regressive or sadistic play forms (Brown, 1994, Slade and Wolf, 1994). p.45

Play as a form of security, as is typical of what have been called “low players”, persons who are anxious or aggressive in their expressive behaviour and confine themselves to repetitive and minimally expressive forms of play (Fein and Kinnex, 1994). p.45

Play as stereotypic. Most play forms are highly stereotypic, form house play to crossword puzzle to team sport. The are the typical play forms of persons with average to complex playing capacity. Their games are culturally self-satisfying vehicles and increase the enjoyment in the lives of those who play them (Meckley, 1994). p.45

playful forms of play. these are the games who have a creative capacity for playing. Typically this is demonstrated by the variety and complexity of playful transformations of which the players are capable, and by their ability to convert their own playful characteristics into play scenarios for others. p.46

Old and young

What are the reasons for adult play? Erikson (1956), one of the few even consider the matter, has suggested that while the child goes forward in his play, the adult goes sideways. This apparently means that children are growing up while they are playing and adults are not. Presumably adults have already grown up, so the supposed growth virtues of play are irrelevant. If play is a preparation for maturity (Gross, 1976), then what are the maturing doing when they play? Are they preparing for death? Perhaps they are not preparing for anything. p.47

a play theory that is only about progress and deals only with some small part of the population (children) could hardly claim to be encompassing one. If it could be believed that elders do not play at all (as was often originally supposed both for animals and humans), then the rhetoric of progress would hold some cogency. It has indeed long been maintained that adult festivals, carnivals, sports, and parades are not play but merely entertainments or recreations. But this seems to be  a disguise of decreasing credibility. (..) must grasp this strange companionship of the very young with the very old. In all these cases play seems to have more to do with waiting than preparing, more to do with boredom than with rehearsal, more to do with keeping up one’s spirit than with depression. p.48

Validations and Definitions

To the hegemony of adults over children revealed in the way in which the theories provide rationalization for the adult control of children’s play: to stimulate it, negate it, exclude it or encourage limited form of it. p49

The definitions of play given by child players themselves generally center on having fun, being outdoors, being with friends, choosing freely, not working, pretending, enacting, fantasy and drama, and playing games (King, 1979, Kaarby, 1986). There is little or no emphasis on the kind of growth that adults have in mind with their progress rhetoric. The children’s rhetoric is by large similar to that adopted by adults in the rhetoric’s of the self, which are about play as some kind of valued personal experience, so the children are probably echoing those modern public adult scripts. p. 49

No contradiction between ‘assuming that players play for intrinsic personal motivational reasons and that the effects of such play are useful for the extrinsics of other kinds of adaptation. p 50

Fagen reviewed play defintions of 37 authors (1981, pp.500-504).

extrinsic academic, social, moral, physical, and cognitive play functions, with  a progress- oriented thrust, have been the major focus of most child play scientists seeking to demonstrate that play is the practice of real-life adaptive skills for survival (biological emphasis), that it can ensure feelings of mastery and competency through conflict resolution and compensatory activity (psychogenic emphasis), and more recently, that it can develop skills for cognitive and education (cognitive emphasis).

all assume that play does indeed transfer to some other kinds of progress that are not in themselves forms of play. p.51

All confirm that extrinsic theories focused on the field of child play and dominated the rhetoric of progress. p.51

so far there is no marked clarification of their similiarities or differences.p.51

Play is an irrational act of gaining pleasure through one’s own illusions. p.54

‘Calling the mastery of play in childhood or adulthood forms of hallucination or illusion is itself an epistemological discourse that implies something defective about them. (…) Given that there is nothing more characteristic of human achievement than the creation of illusory cultural and theoretical worlds, as in music, dance, literature, and science, then children’s and gamblers’ full participation in such play worlds can be seen not as defect, or as compensation for inadequacy, but rather than illusory worlds highlights this move towards a more positive, if narrower, epistemological attitude about their function. As we now see the creating of human meanings as a central to human culture, we can give more primary appreciation to these manifestations in our artists, our children, and our gamblers (Hymes, 1974). We might borrow from Steiner the view that the issue is no longer whether here is superior reality versus inferior play, but whether the play is itself merely ordinary or as a case of “brilliant virtuality” (1995). The rhetoric of fate is a real threat to the rhetoric of progress, because the concept of virtuality promises to put adults and children in the same ludic world. –> Pokemon Go  or digital transformation p.54-55

O’Flaherty , W.D. (1984). Dreams, Illusion and other Realities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. –> about the ways in which they are alike, the ways in which they are different, and what each teaches us about reality. Transformation of some sort or another are the heart of myths –> p.3

She highlights an excurse into Hindu mythology: The world is at play in the hands of the gods, and dreaming and playfulness are forms of reality treated as seriously as the so-called commonsense world. Play, like dreams, is not a secondary state of reality as it is with us but has primacy as a form of knowing. She says further “In India the realm of mental image is not on the defensive. Commonsense has a powerful lobby there, as it has with us, but it does not always have everything its own way. Reality has to share the burden of proof with unreality in India, and it is by no means a foregone conclusion that reality will win.” p.304

Handelman, D.(1992) Passages to play: Paradox and process. Play and Culture 5(1):1-19 states on the matter:

“In Indian cosmology, play is a top town idea. Passages to play and their premises are embedded at a high level of abstraction and generality. The qualities of play resonate and resound throughout the whole. But more than this, qualities of play are integral to the very operation of the cosmos. To be in play is to reproduce time and again the very premises that inform the existence of this kind of cosmos…Now in cosmologies where premises of play are not embedded at a high level and are not integral to the organization of the cosmos, as in Western society, the phenomenon of play seems to erupt from the bottom. By bottom up play I mean that play often is phrased in opposition to, or as a negation of, the order of things. This is the perception of play as unserious, illusory and ephemeral, but it is also the perception of play as subversive and resisting the order of things. (p.12)

Schechner, R. (1988) Playing. Play and Culture 1(1):3-27; echos O’Flaherty and confirms that play in the Western world is considered something low in status compared to Hindu culture as the divine process of creation. In western culture we consider play as not real, but in Hindu culture it is one of multiple realities, all transformable into each other. Further he notes that playing is for us as for the Hindus – a creative destabilizing action that frequently does not declare its existence, even less its intentions. Playing is a mood, and attitude, a force. It erupts or one falls into it. It may persist for a long time as specific games, rites, and artistic performances do- or it comes and goes suddenly- as wisecrack, an ironic glimpse of things, as bend of crack in behaviour…It is wrong to think of playing as the interruption of the ordinary life. Consider instead playing as the underlying, always there, continuum of experience…Ordinary life is netted out of playing but playing continually squeezes through even the smallest holes of the work net…work and other activities constantly feed on the underlying ground of playing, using the play mood for refreshment, energy, unusual ways of turning things around, insights, breaks, opening and especially looseness. pp.16-18