Defining Play and Transformative Play

Transformative play is a special case of play that occurs when the free movement of play alters the more rigid structure in which it takes shape. The play doesn't just occupy and oppose the interstices of the system, but actually transforms the space as a whole. A cyberfeminist game patch that creates transsexual versions of Lara Croft is an example of transformative play, as is the use of the Quake game engine as a movie-making tool.

Although every instance of play involves free movement within a more rigid structure, not all play is transformative. Often, whether or not we can consider play as transformative play depends on the way we frame the play experience. Take the familiar example of Chess. Some aspects of play in Chess are, by and large, not transformative at all. As with most games, the formal rules of Chess do not change as a result of playing a game of Chess. If the play of Chess is considered purely as an exercise in the strategic logic of Chess, then the system (the rules) remains the same each time the game is played. However, once human players come into the equation, transformative play can occur across many levels. A player's thinking skills might be transformed as a result of playing Chess over a long period of time. Social relationships with other players (or non-players) might undergo a transformation. The play of Chess might even transform the way a player perceives objects in space. (Just ask any Tetris addict!)


Folksonomies: play transformative play

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 Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Salen, Katie (2003925), Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, Retrieved on 2018-07-27
Folksonomies: games game design gameplay