Diversity & Innovation
Social Machines

Flow without Agon

There's something perversely satisfying about discovering somebody else talking about topics that you usually only hear yourself ramble about. This slice of Anne Galloway's stream of consciousness touches upon Caillois and Csikzentmihalyi's flow, which we talk about in our new book 21st Century Game Design; the link is:

http://www.purselipsquarejaw.org/2004_12_01_blogger_archives.php#110234752594588927

Here's an extract:

By focussing on the ludic - by measuring the pleasure of games and play by functional and productive criteria - we miss the chaotic, voluptuous, and seductive qualities of play. As Mortensen concludes, the real dangers of gaming are not exposure to violence or social isolation, but rather in promoting a "society where delight is used to reach goals" and seduction is rendered empty and meaningless.

Anne is referring to a paper by Torill Mortensen which I shall rush off and consume as soon as I finish here.

We looked at flow and concluded that Csikzentmihalyi was applying it somewhat narrowly; we found flow of mimicry as well as flow of agon. That is to say, flow need not be associated with goals and achievements (as Csikzentmihalyi seems addicted to doing) - one can also see flow as the process of losing oneself in the experience. In our way of thinking, it's all about which skills you use: when the experience is interpersonal (as it is in much MOG play), the goals and methods are different, but one can still find a 'flow channel'.

I absolutely share Anne's desire to work to repositioning play as something viable and valuable in modern culture.

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