Communication - “quadreologic communication”



Sutton-Smith calls any game “unique” - because it occurs, progresses and dies out. When the game is played again, the new game is subject to a new time in a new place and with new persons-at-play in a new structure. The many variables make it wrong and indeed impossible to say much at all about the game in advance, for (to quote Caillois) play is defined by the forms it takes.

Sutton-Smith also brings text, context and metacommunication into what he calls “quadreological” (“four-cornered”) communication in role play.

He lists four terms characterising the different positions of the persons-at-play within the game and describing the communication which occurs in relation to the distribution of roles.

Role play always consists of four parts:

  1. The Author or CREATOR of the story of the game and the persons/roles is the person who makes up the story and selects the possible content with conflicts, intrigues, etc.
  2. The ORGANISERor instructor decides how things will take place and undertakes to correct anyone who does things incorrectly, instructs and at intervals frequently “leaves” this own role during play in order to take over others’ roles.
  3. The ACTOR is the person who plays a role, reacts, changes his voice and behaviour, etc.
  4. The AUDIENCE, the spectator is also part of/included in the game and is selected or permitted to “watch” or observe the others - some of the time. In most cases, the person concerned will look for an opportunity to read the signalsor interpret the communication within the game.

Especially where controlled or organised play at school or in child care institutions orplay with adults as participans or observers is concerned, many people have told Sutton-Smith that he lacks the fifth “role term”, i.e.:

  1. The MANAGER or controller (referee) who certainly does not have to be an adult but may be a child with a certain status.

The manager decides, leads and distributes roles and functions within the game. This role is, of course, a general leadership role but - as with the other roles - the persons-at-play can take turns at playing the manager role.

Regardless of how many participants there are in a game (a game could be individual play where the person-at-play plays all the roles himself), the person(s)-at-play must retain perspective over all the roles and functions in addition to relating to the text and context of the game in their communication. During the play process the game will certainly be given a new text (re-texted) and may also be given a new context (recontexted).

The metacommunication, the unique aspect of the communication of play, contains the message about how the text is to be interpreted.



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