Meaningful play: Applying Zoosemiotics to game development

Play is the experience of effortless and timeless enjoyment, a subjective immersion in a state of being. Play is an intrinsic value to healthy human growth and is crucial to the persistence of creativity in daily life. The goal of this research is to achieve an approach to re-instilling play into the human world. As the title ‘Meaningful play:
Applying Zoosemiotics to game development’ suggests, a practical application of
theory will be devised in order to put play to work, so to speak. The play activities
suggested, like games and playful installations, are not necessarily new, but are
presented in a new form. Frame of mind is the crux of the issue because mental frames are frequently determinative of how and what we perceive. By understanding this concept methods to introduce playful frames will help create better playthings. Play activities and social frames for play can be inspired and informed by the animal world, for human and non-human animals live in an interconnected and interrelated ecosystem. Looking towards the non-human animal world in light of our own can remind us of our animal selves which may get lost amongst modern technology. Zoosemiotics here serves to link the perspectives on play provided by biological and social science with observations of animal behavior, and the practices of creative adaptation, most notably from the perspective of game and play studies.  

The goal of my topic of research and project, Building Something Out of Nothing (BSOON) is to achieve an approach for creating interactive products that seamlessly fit into a person's  every day life, which therefore adds more play in human daily routine and thought. The activities are not necessarily new, but are presented in a new form. In this sense, it is the frame of mind, which is crux of the issue. Action found in play and social frames will be inspired from the animal world for they live in an ecosystem, which is still natural and completely stimulus oriented. Zoosemiotics will link the perspective between science, animal behaviour, and practical creative adaptation.

My sources of inspiration range from architects to philosophers on the existence of time to light and sound installations. In the end, they all deal with the now and the appreciation of our surroundings.

Description of the above images from left to right:

Buckminster Fuller: bucky balls and paradise
Yayoi Kusama: polka dot madness
Ram Dass: be here now

Claes Oldenburg: deflatable world
Monkeys monkeying around: woof
Tara Donovan: flat light
La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela: Dream House

Below is, Czech animator, Zdeněk Miler's cartoon Krtek. The little mole has made a huge impression on me since I first discovered it in Prague because Krtek really knows how to have fun and build something out of nothing.