Jones'es, but is play really more democratic and boundary-free than ever? Does it helpdiscourage stratification, if not set the scene for social harmony? Does 'western' culture allow play to be an integral aspect of everyday life? And, most importantly for us, what kind of a roledoes design at large play as a key factor in this totality of relations?
A fictional design project
It would be useful to start by drawing upon a definition of play in order to provide anoutline for our theoretical framework. The definition that will probably be the most beneficial for our study comes from one of the founders of modern cultural history, Johan Huizinga, whodefines play based on a historical—and at times, even evolutional—reference. Huizinga suggeststhat the essentials of human play are evident in how animals at large play with each other. Heexemplifies his argument by illustrating a scene of young dogs playing whereby they seem to be biting eachother's ears. Huizinga underlines that “the rule that you shall not bite, or not bite hard,your brother’s ear” is key in this activity. According to him, keeping to that fundamental rule atall times, and, yet meanwhile, pretending to get terribly angry, are the two complimentarycharacteristics that lead to the “tremendous fun and enjoyment” that is being experienced by thedogs.
This analysis focuses mainly on understanding how the two parties, or actors, that areactively involved in the play experience it. However, in order to understand the agency of designin relation to play as a social and cultural phenomenon, we would probably be more interested inhow this scene looks through the eye of a third party/an outsider—for the designer is often brought in as one, to processes and existing networks of relations, and is later requested totransform them.