can you say more about the development of play in individuals… is the self-exploration of an infant solitary play?

  • Sure, as in Piagetian circular reactions that I briefly mentioned.

so, are museum-goers and the audiences for concerts, movies, theatre, all playing?

  • Sure, these can fill the five criteria, similar to hobbies, just not as active and more vicarious. Think also thrill rides at amusement parks.

are the various forms of ART seen as PLAY? what about the interactions between participants (artists & their audience)?

  • Certainly the creation of art of all kinds can originate in play, just as mental play can be a simulation of behavioral play. Unless the audience is interacting directly with the artist, or their interpreters (musicians, oral readings, actors) it would not be rather direct social play.

has play been investigated in closely related species with different life styles?

  • Yes, play differs in prey species, predators, scavengers, extractive foragers, loose vs more rigid social organization, those with more or less parental care. Etc.

We read Huizinga for Kelli Wood’s class–could you say more about the “Magic Circle”

  • Check this from Wikipedia. Actually do not know who wrote it. The idea is found in the animal literature in existence of play signals and metacommunication, derived from Gregory Bateson:

The term magic circle has been attributed to Dutch historian Johan Huizinga (1872–1945). In Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, Huizinga wrote:[4]

All play moves and has its being within a play-ground marked off beforehand either materially or ideally, deliberately or as a matter of course. Just as there is no formal difference between play and ritual, so the ‘consecrated spot’ cannot be formally distinguished from the play-ground. The arena, the card-table, the magic circle, the temple, the stage, the screen, the tennis court, the court of justice, etc, are all in form and function play-grounds, i.e. forbidden spots, isolated, hedged round, hallowed, within which special rules obtain. All are temporary worlds within the ordinary world, dedicated to the performance of an act apart.

However, Johan Huizinga never really said that a game is a magic circle. What he said was that a magic circle like many other cultural activities may have game-like characteristics. The term Magic Circle was coined by Eric Zimmerman and Frank Lantz in 1999 and popularized by Eric Zimmerman and Katie Salen in 2003. Eric Zimmerman admits this in his 2012 essay “Jerked Around by the Magic Circle – Clearing the Air Ten Years Later” writing:[5]

The “magic circle” is not a particularly prominent phrase in Homo Ludens, and although Huizinga certainly advocates the idea that games can be understood as separate from everyday life, he never takes the full-blown magic circle point of view that games are ultimately separate from everything else in life or that rules are the sole fundamental unit of games. In fact, Huizinga’s thesis is much more ambivalent on these issues and he actually closes his seminal book with a passionate argument against a strict separation between life and games. The magic circle is not something that comes wholly from Huizinga. To be perfectly honest, Katie and I more or less invented the concept, inheriting its use from my work with Frank, cobbling together ideas from Huizinga and Caillois, clarifying key elements that were important for our book, and reframing it in terms of semiotics and design – two disciplines that certainly lie outside the realm of Huizinga’s own scholarly work. But that is what scholarship often is – sampling and remixing ideas in order to come to a new synthesis.

how is the dancing bird playing and not mimicking? 

  • These are not alternatives at all. Also, in this case the bird was not seeing any other animal performing or engaged in social learning, but spontaneously feeling the beat!

what is pretend play? (it was one of the types of play listed that we didn’t discuss) 

  • I view pretend play much more broadly than many. Thus, a cat engaging in predatory behavior towards a tennis ball or pile of feathers is pretend play as the animal certainly knows it is not a real animal and does not try to eat it! Socio-dramatic play, fantasy, even many games can have elements of pretence, of course.

differences between competitive play and cooperative play? (are the effects of each different – do some animals not utilize competitive play/ cooperative play, while other do?) 

  • The link is porous. For example, team sports involve cooperation within the team and competition against the other team. Also, in rat play wrestling, the goal is to pin the other rat, but they understand and abide by the ‘rules.’

… the 2nd criterion for play was that it has to be spontaneous or voluntary- this may be a well-known thing in animal behavior, but I don’t know much about animals at all – how much free will does an animal have vs how much of their decision-making is just based on instincts? (this has been a heavily debated topic in my family for a while) 

  • Animals certainly can be highly variable in their behavior, make decisions all the time, hesitate or alter behavior, etc. This is the same with humans. Such phenomena differ from the philosophical arguments about free will, which are primarily couched in human terms. Human and non-human animals both have evolutionarily based instinctive responses (instincts ARE influenced by experience and learning) and innate behavioral preferences and predispositions for both behavior and modifying it.