An Appeal For Play
It’s hard not to identify with Sianne Ngai’s Zany, Cute, Interesting as someone trying to find the middle ground between structure and playfulness. I’d ague that Ngai finds something compelling as she defines zaniness as “an aesthetic about performing as not just artful play but affective labor.” This rings bells, given how often rules in games are an attempt to limit zaniness in their play, but some of the most enduring play experiences embrace the zany.
What the text focuses on appealing against the marginalization of these aesthetic categories, which are often as a preface to a deeper category.
The immediate argument I brought supporting her thesis is about working entirely in game design. As her definition of zaniness even uses the word play, it’s reasonable to understand that trying to subvert play into a topic less zany has been a long, enduring battle. Play, and play’s relation to children’s development, means that it must lost its zaniness in order to be treated as an interpreted, sophisticated form.
By giving more intellectual thought to zaniness allows games researchers a way to justify the academic presence of games with a new language. By discussing zaniness, we can discuss playfulness without needing a self-reference.