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The Power of Game Playing Over the Unconscious

Floral Abstraction by Japonka

Floral Abstraction by Japonka

It’s been a while since I’ve explored one of my favourite topics: game playing. But I must update in this post on some of the ongoing reading from Claxton’s Hare Brain 

I am pleased that my conclusions in August (bold in particular):

‘I think that the common component across play delivering personal change and enabling creativity and problem solving is at the level of this ‘what-if’ modelling. It enables us to try things out in the safe environment of our minds. Actual mental game play and just a natural relaxed ‘playful’ state of mind are not too far away from each other on a spectrum when considered from this perspective. Equally, I think that adopting a playful state to personal change scenarios enables the activity being undertaken to deliver the change on a repeated basis to go lower under the conscious ‘radar’. We build less mental conscious resistance to change when the activity supporting the change is tagged ‘game’.’

are mirrored (far more eloquently) on P118 of Claxton’s book:

‘When self esteem is at stake, delicate unconscious forms of information and intelligence seem to be disabled or dismissed, and the way we act becomes clumsy and coarse. When we are less ‘on our best behaviour’, the glimmerings of knowledge from the undermind are more available to guide perception and action…… The same kind of relief from pressure can be achieved by presenting the ‘test’ as if it were a guessing game, rather than a measure of achievement. When we treat something as a ‘pure guess’, we do not feel responsible for it in the same way. We are freed to utter things that come to us ‘out of the blue’, because there is no apparent standard of correctness or success against which they, or we, will be judged’

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Game Playing: Is it all about Breaking the Rules?

Interestingly (but not surprisingly), there is a lot of recent material (psychology papers/ articles/ essays) which comes at the psychology of game playing from the gaming perspective.

Steve Nicholl’s article that I have previously referenced gives a good ‘primer’ in the basic psychological analysis of games and play. What strikes me is the contrast between the general meaning of ‘playfulness’ and the constraints of ‘rules’, which are obviously core to Piaget’s view (explained in the article) of the third and final stage of game play development – playing with rules.

In Guy Claxton’s Hare Brain Tortoise Mind, an explanation of intuition considers how it is important that you have not become too entrenched in a problem: ‘But if one is too steeped in the problem, the danger is that the grooves of thought become so worn that they do not allow a fresh perception, or a mingling of currents of ideas to occur’

Read more…

Psychology of Game Playing: thoughts from the blogosphere

Building on my initial post on this weeks topic of the Psychology of Game Playing. My challenge is how and why playfulness and games both help deliver personal change and also enable creativity and problem solving.

Joel Gruber writes a great post on how playing games enables you to try out a new ‘skin’; to learn a new way of feeling and thinking by dropping your old rules and trying out some new rules for the game you’re about to play. I immediately started thinking about the use of modelling in NLP and how game playing allows us to creatively explore new potential models. So game playing as a great way of accessing ‘what-if’.

The great takeaway for me is: ‘You build worlds that allow you to tap into your unconscious mind and expose creative and problem-solving abilities’. So this gives one answer to my challenge about games enabling creativity and problem solving.

But I wonder also whether it can help towards ‘games delivering personal change’? Does the building of new worlds or trialling new skins; the ‘what if’ modelling enable us to make a leap from our old bad habits to experience a new set of possibilities? Does it enable us to feel how a new good routine or habit would make us feel?

It’s a nice thought, but for me the game playing that succeeds is far more simple. It feels more like we trick ourselves rather than aid ourselves.

Marelisa’s post on A Guide for Creating new Habits is an excellent analysis, and one that I want to look at in more detail later in the week in terms of how her ‘profile’ of a new habit appears to have a lot of parallels with game playing

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