Inventing universes

Back in June, I wrote that new games can be invented spontaneously as you play with a small child, and that somehow, without words (as the child can’t speak; my daughter was 16 months old when I first experienced this), the rules of the game, however simple, are agreed upon.

My role in the first game we invented was to make some kind of rhythm (some kind of human beatboxing with hand clapping), to which my daughter would move. The game was about exploring under what circumstances the rhythm would stop, and somehow both I and my daughter knew which those were; I could tell by the way she looked at me that she expected the rhythm to stop just before she did something—and whatever she tried made perfect sense.

There were rules and we were playing by them.

When in Copenhagen, I thought about organized play. Sports, silly game shows on TV, the stock market, art—most things we humans engage in can be seen as organized play. This obviously led me to think in terms of constrained universes of expression (I’m getting sick of typing this phrase, but I can’t help it).

So, very small children seem capable of inventing new universes, and they seem to intuitively know the boundaries and rules of them. Adults do this all the time. Do animals?

The above was posted to my personal weblog on August 12, 2003. My name is Peter Lindberg and I am a thirtysomething software developer and dad living in Stockholm, Sweden. Here, you’ll find posts in English and Swedish about whatever happens to interest me for the moment.


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