Ian Bogost is the Ivan Allen College Distinguished Chair in media studies and a professor of interactive computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a founding partner at Persuasive Games, and a contributing editor at The Atlantic.
Bogost does not see life as a game nor does he believe that play appeals to us as an alternative to work. So what is play?
"Play is a way of operating a constrained system in a gratifying way. This general act can apply to anything whatsoever — soccer and Tetris, sure, but also yard work and parenting, errands and marriage."
Baseball, tennis, soccer, and other games beckon us to deep and focused play. Here we explore the present moment and savor the flow of movement and accomplishment. Play helps ward off fears and anxieties which hobble us and dim our days.
Play with its limitations and regulations fosters character growth; it requires humility and involves caring. Best of all, this human capacity can be a passport to contentment.
After examining paranoia as the fear of people, ironia as the fear of things, and irony as "the result of the refinement of fear, boredom, and distance," Bogost delves into fun as "the final, unseen regulator of our desires and our behavior."
Bogost covers much more territory than we can mention here. In the end, he emphasizes that "Everything is at play, anything can be played." This perspective opens the door to a much more sane treatment of the things, objects, and possessions in our lives. When we don't expect them to make us comfortable, they are freed to be exactly what they are.