I do not think it is helpful to view play through the limiting eyes of subjectivity. Gadamer (2004) frees play from traditional subjective understandings. Play is more than an entity of itself and not just a state of mind or an orientation of the one playing. It has a spirit of its own. “Play itself contains its own, even sacred, seriousness…Play fulfills its purpose only if the player loses himself in the play” (p.102). In this seriousness of play, we suspend our daily connections with world. As players, we know we are playing, but the only goal other than to just play is for the player to be “played” by the game itself. This kind of focus is required in order to make play wholly play. “Someone who doesn’t take the game seriously is a spoilsport” (p.103). In this sort of manner of play, we must not look upon the word play as if it were an object. It becomes an event. Dewey might call it the action of play. Without action, there can be no experience, and it is what gives this very ordinary everyday activity its ultimate constructive power.
(Biesta & Burbules, 2003) describe that Dewey used the word experience to refer to the transaction between living organisms and their environment. It is the very way we are connected to reality and knowledge (p. 28). “Knowledge is therefore found in the happenings of experience” (p. 44). I cannot see how one could consider them selves knowledgeable without being engaged in the playful act of learning. Gadamer speaks of two different kinds of experience. An immediate experience you might have with a tool or instrument (Erlebnis) and a different deeper or more cognitive experience you undergo the result of participating in an action (Erfahrung). While I see great value the first experience, it is the playful experience of a lived experience that I am interested in with my research. I must be present but also active in my research.
Biesta, J., & Burbules, N. (2003). Pragmatism and educational research. Toronto: Roman and Littlefield.
Gadamer, H., Weinsheimer, J., & Marshall, D. G. (2004). Truth and method (Vol. 2). London ; New York: Continuum.