Play and the Private


  • Nis Bojin Simon Fraser University


Over the past half a century or more, historical, anthropological and philosophical examinations of the concept of play have remained largely situated in the arena of ontological discussion. In these previous interrogations of play, the notion of play has been assumed a priori, been defined stipulatively in relation to larger frameworks of games, or discarded altogether. This work adopts Wittgenstein’s Private Language argument as a lever to unpack the usefulness in looking at play from an epistemological perspective: paying special attention to linguistic cues, ostensive relationships and associated activities around those things players call ‘play’ within specific, behavioral, situational and linguistic contexts. This paper explores how unraveling the term ‘play’ in this way can potentially afford us a new perspective on play as an epistemologically dynamic phenomenon.

Author Biography

Nis Bojin, Simon Fraser University

Nis Bojin is a PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University in the Interactive Arts program. With interests in conceptual and theoretical game design as well as notions of play as culture, Nis is currently researching epistemologies of play in the context of massively multiplayer online games. Nis is also the Program Manager for the National Screen Institute's NSI playWRITE training program for video game writing in conjunction with Telefilm and Zeros 2 Heroes Media.