Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Positioning Ludic Experience in Web 2.0

The correlation between digital interactions and ludic experiences is important to a broader concept of play in urban settings (Stevens 2007). Games and play are designed into everyday life often through the structure of public space where ludic interactions are formalised through cultural spaces. For this to work an assumption must be present; public space, playing games and interactions with others (through games) is a requisite to life. This inevitably transforms social interaction, particularly less formal interactions that connect people with a mutual anticipation of ‘everyday’ ludic pleasure, where even the simplest interactions form the basis of joy, play and connection between people. Fun and play are contained within the idea of ludic activity which is described below:

Fundamental to the notion of ludic activities is an attitude of engagement in the exploration and production of meaning. Thus systems that promote ludic pursuits should provide resources for people to appropriate, rather than content for consumption or tools that structure the performance of defined tasks
(Gaver, Bowers et al. 2004 )

If we are to give this expectation a name it may be “ludicity”– the expectation of play and fun in everyday life. Such ludic expectations are not fully understood by social theory as the pace of technology and digitised connections is much faster than the theorists behind it. Beyond ludicity, the ludic is a reference that explains the transformation of cultural needs and practices of daily life that are centered around play behaviors (Cardena and Littlewood 2006: 287). It is important as a grounding theory as it rationalises two important concepts making them invisible and seemingly less noteworthy; firstly it develops play as an ordinary and expected interaction criteria and secondly it re-classifies verbal communication as a domain of play. “In play…verbal messages become typically re-classified by simultaneous non verbal messages that involve a different logical typing – a higher degree of abstraction” (2006; 207). When such ludic practices are investigated in the light of new digital technologies (here games like Second Life are intended to be brought to mind), what degree of abstraction is occurring? The focus toward fun and pleasure is demonstrated in the discrete ways such behavior collapses what it is to be a producer and consumer confusing all popular understandings of authenticity. The boundaries of both are blurred until there is no true distinction between either, this has in recent times been named Web ‘2.0’, where the cultural influence is one that makes production and consumption fluid and rather sticky (Wesch 2007). Ultimately how does theory accommodate for such blurring points of culture, the negotiation of legitimacy and the rate that culture and values change. The ludic is an influence which describes this interactivity and collaboration but is not understood with a depth and clarity which would allow researchers to make any claims with certainty.

To be more specific how is the genre of ludic re-classifying communication systems in digital play environments and to what extent can they be explained as characteristic of such environments. It is fair to suggest that for the digital sphere, ludic - with its emphasis on play behaviour - has allowed the rise in “new abstractions” that make it popular as a medium of self amusement. That is, it provides a type of passport which enables play behaviours into domains like technology that traditionally are associated with scientific disciplines (Pinch 2006). The ludic has become an expectation of everyday in a cultural world that is determined by the connections between people. The six degrees of separation is not a tangible string of relations but a fluid line of social interactivity which allows participants to express the degree to which they are connected to one another and the novelty of those connections as they fit into the everyday life of participating individuals. More significantly the intensity of those ties and connections are determined by those who contribute in a mutually understood yet rarely vocalised agreement made tangible through informal participation patterns. It is these informal patterns that are the central question of this study – and it is the intention to formalise a basis of such interaction which conceptually and empirically addresses the nature of interaction in the digital as a contingent local production.

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