A Play Ethic for Digital Storytelling - Pat Kane, The Play Ethic


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Presentation to Digital Storytelling Conference, Aberystwyth, May 08, by Pat Kane of The Play Ethic (http://www.theplayethic.com)

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  • Who am I? I’m mostly a musician, with the band Hue And Cry (www.myspace.com/hueandcryuk). But I’ve also been a journalist and newspaper editor, and I’m the author of The Play Ethic (Macmillan, 2004, www.theplayethic.com), which has taken me around the world - talking to organisations and institutions from Sydney to Vancouver to Helsinki - about the nature and the power of play in the live of both children and adults.
  • A Play Ethic for Digital Storytelling - Pat Kane, The Play Ethic

    1. 1. A PLAY ETHIC FOR DIGITAL STORY- TELLING/ >pat kane >www.theplayethic.com
    2. 2. PLAY AND STORYTELLING: A NATURAL FIT - YOU’D ASSUME… It is easy to forget how mysterious and mighty stories are. They do their work in silence, invisibly. They work with all the internal materials of the mind and self. They become part of you while changing you. Beware the stories you read or tell: subtly, at night, beneath the waters of consciousness, they are altering your world. Ben Okri, The Joy of Storytelling We refuse a world where the guarantee that we will not die of starvation entails the risk of dying of boredom… We can escape the commonplace only by manipulating it, controlling it, thrusting it into our dreams or surrendering it to the free play of our subjectivity. Raoul Vaniegem, The Revolution of Everyday Life. … WOULD YOU BE RIGHT?
    3. 3. Play is moving to the centre of our value-systems in the West, after nearly two centuries sitting on the sidelines of the industrial age.
    4. 4. In the 00’s, play is a positive mainstream lifestyle identity London, 7 April, 9am-12pm *
    5. 5. In the 00’s, play is also a mainstream political goal - at national level… ‘ Yes we can’ From the ‘I need’ to the ‘I want’ to the ‘I can’ generation “ In society, the spectators are taking the stage, and becoming players themselves” - D. Miliband *
    6. 6. And a mainstream political goal - at global level… 1989 UN Convention on the rights of the child, General Assembly Resolution 44/25, Article 31 1. States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts. The 2007 Unicef report on Britain’s poor environment for children has been a huge spur to reform - recent £300 million investment in play-parks
    7. 7. New science of play - bringing many insights to the role of play in childrens’ (and adults’) lives ….
    8. 8. “ Scientists who study play, in animals and humans alike, are developing a consensus view that play is something more than a way for restless kids to work off steam; more than a way for chubby kids to burn off calories; more than a frivolous luxury. Play, in their view, is a central part of neurological growth and development - one important way that children build complex, skilled, responsive, socially adept and cognitively flexible brains.” Play is “adaptive potentiation” (Sutton-Smith) - we do the experiments, and take the risks, of play, to increase our “response abilities”, to improve our survival rate alongside other complex social animals. Is story-telling merely one more behavioural strategy for survival/thrival in play? Or is it as elemental to personal and social constitution as play? *
    9. 9. PLAY AND THE NET Driven by the Millenials/Gen Y and their younger brothers and sisters, we are becoming a society that is accustomed to 'playing together' through communication networks. To what extent is web 2.0 challenging the singular story told, in favour of an accumulated, ‘tapestry’ storytelling? (Though Live Journal / Fanfiction.com is ‘digital storytelling’ powered by a much longer history of narrative imagining from fan cultures)
    10. 10. PLAY AND ‘QUALITY-OF-LIFE’ In an accelerating society, ’a chance to play together' - at home, on holiday or in a 'third space' (like Starbucks) - becomes a precious opportunity for children, adults and families to restore balance. playing Cranium at Xmas   Are play and games an opportunity for familial story-telling - or a displacement of it? The Royle Family could share their lives because tv is such a ‘lean-back’ medium… could play sap the energy for story?
    11. 11. PLAY AND ‘QUALITY-OF-LIFE’ “ Play is to work as waking is to dreaming – that is, play is restorative… A history of play creates a pool of good feelings that families can draw on in hard times…” “ Play is also an aerobic workout for the human capacity to change. Perhaps a sustained immaturity is an advantage in a constant world of change. To stop playing is to stop developing” “ Our epidemics of addiction could be caused by the lack of restorative play in our lives – we 'lose ourselves' in thrills and pills because we don't have the opportunity to 'find ourselves' in play”. Again, storytelling seems different from play - not quite about permanent flexibility and adaptability through symbolising and making - but about dwelling with the other’s world of meaning, long enough for it to matter
    12. 12. PLAY, GAMES AND PEDGAOGY Kids completely absorbed by digital games with ascending levels of difficulty… … but bored and unengaged with the traditional topics and methods of the curriculum… … yet the compulsive storytelling of the playground shows how basic/analog a competence storytelling is. KEEP IN MIND!
    13. 13. PLAY, GAMES AND PEDAGOGY PLAY - “the capacity to experiment with your surroundings as a form of problem solving” Other “core skills for the new participatory culture” in this report were: PERFORMANCE, SIMULATING NEW WORLDS, REMIXING, MULTITASKING, USING DIGITAL TOOLS WELL, SHARING KNOWLEDGE, JUDGEMENT, NAVIGATING ACROSS MEDIA, TOLERANCE OF PERSPECTIVES… But no specific “narration” or “story-telling” in this list of players’ competences… why? *
    14. 14. PLAY AND HUMAN NATURE “ In the tough play-cultures of the schoolyard, children learn all those necessary arts of trickery, deception, harassment, divination and foul play that their teachers won’t teach them but are most important in successful human relationships in marriage, business and war.” Brian Sutton-Smith, Toys as Culture, 1994 “ LEGO” - Danish/Latin compression meaning to “play well”. But we don’t always, or even often, “play well”… Digital Storytelling, done with authentic playful-ness, will - must - access the ‘dark and crazy’ side of ourselves. *
    15. 15. MY NON-DIGITAL STORYTELLING PROJECT…. Their range of stories were like child phantasmagoria - as well as stories of achieved practice, stories of “being lost, being stolen, being bitten, dying, being stepped on, being angry, calling the police, running away, falling down”… Survival stories, quirky and diverse - but which could only take place in confidentialised, or pseudononymous, or genericised forms. Digital storytelling seems to be always ‘in public’ - does that get best stories? RE-IMAGINING SOCIAL WORK (2004, Scottish Government) Purpose: “to help social workers in Scotland have a better self-understanding, and tell a better story about themselves to the wider [and largely misunderstanding] society” Storytool: “You’re at a party, you have to tell someone a five-minute story that defines you as a ‘Social Worker’”… OK…
    16. 16. MY DIGITAL STORYTELLING PROJECT (FOR FUN AND PROFIT…) We’re presuming that the ‘ecstatic’ (collective joy) of a gig will generate the most stories, and thus bring the most energy into the community. But particular songs, or even lyrics, might generate affective and emotional resources - we have to be adaptable to that…and we have to care about these stories… HUE AND CRY MUSIC CLUB on Ning.com -‘HISTORY CITY’ Purpose: “to make a living, interacting community out of 22 years of Hue And Cry gig goers (estimated audience: 750,000), by soliciting their stories, memories and memorabilia, via a social networking tool/platform” Storytool: “Were you there? Tell your story, show us your images, share experiences with fellow Music Club members, ask us questions”
    17. 17. A PLAY ETHIC FOR DIGITAL STORY- TELLING/ >pat kane >www.theplayethic.com