CFP: Sharing the Play seminar, 16.-17.11.2015

SHARING THE PLAY – A seminar on Play of and between Children and Adults

University of Jyväskylä, November 16th – 17th 2015

Play has traditionally been considered as something children do, whether as idle pastime and “mere play”, or as serving developmental functions. In recent research literature we still find the playful child contrasted to the goal-oriented adult. The picture is however quickly changing, as playing and games have been accepted as potentially productive modes of doing things. A playful attitude is promoted to children for educational purposes, to adults for improving work results, and to senior citizen for keeping them physically and mentally healthy. Today it is also increasingly common for people to carry on playing games after entering the adult world, with family and work responsibilities. Pop and rock music led the way here as it became evident that it was not just a question of a certain age of adolescence, but of an enduring habit. There are similar developments in the world of playing and games: instead of adults playing with children occasionally we now have adults playing games amongst each other, or children and adults playing together on more or less equal terms, whether with dolls or with virtual avatars in online worlds. Some indeed say that we have entered the ludic age.

The status of play is ambiguous in many academic fields. While it is a key concept in the classical tradition of aesthetics and hermeneutics, it is only recently that actual playing and games have gained more attention in humanities and social sciences. Within the multidisciplinary field of childhood studies there has been reluctance towards using the concept, as it has been felt that it degrades and marginalizes children’s activities. In education a trend identified as “the learnification of education” has brought with it an increased emphasis on measurable outcomes instead of human growth: there is then little room for play except as instrumentalised for learning purposes.

In the Sharing the Play seminar we hope to bring together researchers from different disciplinary backgrounds, such as childhood and youth studies, game studies, gender studies, arts and culture, media, education, psychology, sports and social sciences. There will be two internationally recognized keynote lecturers presenting in the seminar. We especially invite contributions that analyse participants’ – both children and adult – own perspectives and understanding of playing and gaming.

The keynote lectures will be delivered by Jessica Enevold (Senior Lecturer, University of Lund & IT University of Copenhagen) and Helle Skovbjerg Karoff (Aalborg University, Denmark). They will also provide comments on the seminar papers.

Papers may be related to topics such as:

–         Functions and ends of playing and gaming: psychological, social, existential and ontological;

–         Hermeneutics of playing and gaming;

–         The relationship of play and playfulness to imagination, creativity and the arts;

–         Improvisation, negotiation, rules in plays and games;

–         Co-operation and competition in plays and games;

–         Intergenerational, intercultural and gender issues of play and games: anonymity, roles and the re-positioning of identities;

–         Play-worlds and games as imaginary worlds and as transformations of the everyday;

–         Effects of play and playfulness on the experience of social and physical environments;

–         Affordances for play in physical and institutional environments: pros and cons;

–         Educational and learning games;

–         Playing, gaming and well-being.

Deadline for abstracts (400 – 500 words): September 6st. Please send your abstract as a pdf, rtf or word attachment to Mari Vuorisalo (

Acceptance Notification: September 21st

Seminar Dates: November 16th – 17th

The Seminar is arranged by the LaNKa research cluster Children, Young People and their Growth Environments and the research project Ludification and Emergence of Playful Culture.

There is no participation fee!


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