Storytelling, Failure, Creativity, and Play

A podcast episode by Maja Malmcrona

31 minute read 10 February 2022 conversations

This article is the transcript of an episode of Maja Malmcrona’s podcast, where we talked about how to tell a consistent story of an inconsistent journey, the importance of play and failure and the sadness of failing to play, and, as Maja would say: “how to drill a great hole”. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or Spotify (and other platforms).

To preserve the experience, I will transcribe the drilling sounds as VRRRRMMMM. It’s an inherent part of the story now.

There is a hole in a wall, under a rack of tools. In the hole, there is a room were two people are siting at a table. There is a microphone on the table. Above the table, there is artwork and a plant. The person on the left drinks tea. The person on the right wears red roundy glasses. They both smile. A great hole, showing two individuals giggling and chatting about playfulness. The gorgeous imperfect art in the middle of my silly art is by Maja Malmcrona.

M: Maja, J: Julia (the diverter)


M: Ok, so there is someone drilling holes in the apartment’s walls. So we’ll see, if we awkwardly stop talking, that’s the reason why. Hello! Let’s begin with that.

J: Hi!

M: How are you?

J: I’m on holiday, so I’m really good. I’m ready for what comes next!

M: I’m ready for everything! If the walls fall down, it’s fine. They might just do that.

J: Someone is trying to make sure this doesn’t happen.

M: Oh but what if they’re drilling too big of a hole. Finally, this podcast will go viral this time.

J: Tada! Hi Sir, what do you think about abstraction?


M: We don’t really know what we are talking about but we used to know what we were supposed to talk about today, because we were talking about it, in a bar, a week ago, and then we both forgot. We were talking about it because both of us are working on a project - yours is a bit bigger than mine, a little…

J: I’m not sure…

M: So you were/are working on your PhD, and I was working on a portfolio for this art school application, and we were both sort of struggling with the sort of storytelling of it. Trying to… I’m winging this by the way, if that’s not clear!


M: I feel most of us go through this at some point in time, whether it’s you’re writing an essay for school, or doing a PhD, or writing a story or whatever, especially when it’s a project that’s very long and very…



J: Oh my god

M: It sounds like an angry animal!

J: I’m really getting scared if I’m being honest.

M: So… We were talking about just how hard it is when you’re writing something like that, like let’s say a PhD… I guess the closer experience I have from this is when I did my Master’s dissertation, where half of the project is not to do the research and investigation, it’s to put everything together. And it’s so easy to get side tracked and, you know, while you are doing the project, you are obviously finding out new things and you’re sort of coming up with new trains of thoughts here and there and somehow you have to find a balance between sticking to what you’re doing obviously, but also letting in the feedback. Whatever the feedback is. Whether it’s from other people or whether it’s new ideas from your own making. Does this make sense?

J: Yes! And the new things you learn along the way as well. I find that for a very long project you start with an idea of what you are starting from and where you want to go and the different steps you are going to use on the way… But then, as you go along, you learn new things and you might even decide to go on a whole different path because you realise the path that you wanted doesn’t really make sense so much anymore in the light of the new things that you learnt. And then when you arrive somewhere down the road and someone says like “Hey! Can you write your story?” and you kinda feel like you are expected to write a consistent story, like “From the beginning this is where I wanted to go and that’s how I went there” when truly even if…



J: Even if you’re drilling a great hole… In your wall….


J: Even if you planned things very nicely and the beginning and very smartly, I want to say, everything is well connected, you evolve so much on the way that it’s not even that consistent at the end…



J: …although all the steps were consistent. It’s not easy. And you don’t want to be too dishonest about how you tell the story.

M: Yeah because…


M: This shall never end.

J: Let’s just invite this person to the conversation.

M: Sounds like you want to SAY SOMETHING OVER THERE?



J: That’s not how you drill a hole, there’s something wrong going on.

M: Yeah, what are they doing?!

J: You’re not using the proper tool! I’m sorry, Sir! Or Madam, I don’t know.


M: And this is true about life generally. I mean you’re talking about sort of…




J: Why now!

M: We were talking for an hour before and…

J: Yes, just went you pressed the play button, he was like “VRRRRMMMM This is my moment! This is my time to shine! I will be on the internet!”

M: “I will go viral!”” You know, you talk about writing a story, or putting together a story. You know, if you have a plan about where you’re going. Let’s say in life. Let’s say I’m here right now and in five years I want to do this thing, I want to have accomplished these things, I want to… whatever. I feel it’s very trendy to set very strict goals for yourself, I feel like all business people are talking about that… Like you have to reach these goals, you have to fully elaborate what they are. But I don’t know if it’s just me but it’s so easy to just over establish your goals and then just be like “ok this is what I’m doing now” and if there are other things that throw you off that path, then it’s a failure, because then you’re like “Yes but I didn’t reach that thing. I reached all these other things, but I didn’t reach that thing”. And then it’s like “Oh, I have failed at life” which is obviously not true.

J: Yes and I feel that the opposite is also true. Like if you reach that goal, it’s not necessarily a success. Because I see some people who get trapped in a goal that they assigned for themselves ten years ago when they thought very differently, and it’s like “I have this goal, I’m gonna discard everything else that could take me away from that goal” but then as you learn and grow maybe your needs and your goals should also adjust. And sometimes having goals can be helpful because it can help move forward and stuff like this but sometimes it’s also good to know when to revisit those goals and when to change those goals. And that’s always the thing that’s a bit difficult because sometimes when you are trying to reach a goal that you really care for, it gets a bit difficult and your head goes like “Yeah, maybe I don’t really want it, gnagnagna”. At least my head does that. But then if you’re pursuing something for years, something that makes you very unhappy all the steps of the way… Maybe you should not really continue down that path, and the failure would be to keep pushing through and then five years later, you’re like “Ok, I didn’t like these five years, they weren’t that good, and I don’t like being here now. Great.”

M: Yeah, and then it’s like “Here I am, I have achieved that goal, and now what? It turned out I didn’t want to do it and now I have nothing to do. Now that goal is reached, I’m just here, sulking, because I didn’t want it. And now my life is pointless.” It’s hard! But you also don’t want to fall to the other side where it’s like “I’m fine! I just want to be in the moment.” I don’t know if that’s true, maybe we should all be doing that. But I know for me, if I were to do that “I’m just gonna see what happens, I’m just gonna let myself be in the moment”, I would just eat chips all day. All day! It would not stop, the chips eating. And I would achieve nothing. Except having consumed and ingested and digested a lot of chips, which is admirable in and of itself, let’s be real!


M: But yeah and then there’s so much pressure also having or having not achieved those goals. Especially the failure of reaching those goals. For me, because I’ve sort of jumped between so many different professions, the people who know me and the people who can appreciate the value in that journey, they don’t see that as a failure. But I can imagine and I know that there are people who do and they’re like “Oh but you never finished this thing and you never finished that thing.”

J: But I think that’s the richness about you and what I like about you. That you tackled all of those things and somehow you managed to assemble them and create who you are today. And I think that’s great. I also think one kind of questioning.. At least that’s what I use for myself, maybe it’s terrible, don’t take it for granted. But it’s when I feel that I’m considering another path, I always ask myself what is the deep feeling that is trying to take me on that other path. And sometimes it’s fear of actually continuing on the path I actually care about. And then I try to find those alternatives paths because going there towards that thing that I really want and that would really fulfil me asks of me to face some fears. And then I would ask “Am I ready to face those fears now or should I wait a bit more?” and these kinds of things. But sometimes the… the FORCES wouuuh

M: ouuuuh crystals….


M: Energy…

J: Yes sometimes the energies taking you away from the path are good ones. It’s excitement, it’s passion, it’s love, something like that. And then maybe that’s ok. And I think it’s also important to be honest with yourself about those things, and I think it’s not easy. At least in my opinion.

M: Yeah! God, no! What sort of made you… Because you also have a bit of that, you started something, you quitted, and now you’re doing your PhD on your number thing, numbers and…


M: Numbers and letters and weird noises…



J: Numbers! No!

M: F*ck these numbers!

J: I hate it!

M: What sort of drove you into that?

J: Good question! But that’s an interesting question because I started a PhD when I was younger, and… How I call it is like… It’s the opposite of when all the stars align. It’s like everything went wrong. Not just with the PhD, everything.

M: And you were like “Yay! I’m gonna keep pushing! This is good for me!”


J: It’s like nothing worked out! It was insane! Everything was going wrong! And I pushed through for a while and then I realised, ok, it doesn’t work out. And I decided I’m just gonna quit, take a few months for myself, figure all this apocalypse out, and then move on. And then a few years later, I found some researchers who work in the field of learning sciences which is about how people learn. And I was like “Yes! I’m fascinated about this, I’m passionate about that!” I remember when I was a child I was pretending to be a teacher and forcing my younger brothers to learn maths.

M: And they were like: “You’re not the boss of me!”


J: And I was like “Did you do your HOMEWORK?”


J: I was so annoying. But from a very young age I was very fascinated about how people learn, and was passionate about it. And when they offered a PhD position, at first I wanted to say no because I did this and it was terrible, and stuff like this. And that was one of those moments when I had to sit down and ask “Why are you scared? What is pushing you away from this?” My passion is taking me there, my brain is taking me there because I find it very exciting, I love the team as well… All the people involved were so interesting, those kinds of people, you meet them and it’s just bouncing ideas. I love this kind of people and interactions. And I realised the only left was fear, fear that I would quit again. You know, I still consider the first one a bit of a failure even though it was the best for me at the time. And I was like… If I do that again, I will just go around and be like “Hey! I failed two PhDs! Hire me now!”

M: “I’m the best candidate you got!”


J: But then I think that helped. Because I realised it’s just the fear of failing again, and I said well, if I realise it’s bad for me, I will just handle that later on, but now I’m in that for a few years now and I know it was the good decision for me and I’m very happy I did not fall in this fear and took the time to appreciate the passion and the interest I have for this. And this was one of the first times I had to sit down with myself and ask “Hmm! What are you doing?”

M: Those are hard right! Because no one else can help you! And you just sit there and you’re like… “Okayyyyy what are we doing….”

J: “Thoughts in my head! Start talking things!”

M: Yeah, it’s so weird because you’re like “I thought I was one person, now I’m talking to myself, we’re all schizophrenic in the end, this is a little weird…” I always write. I can spend f*cking hours and thousands of words just writing, talking to myself. Sometimes I read it again, just a few days or weeks later, and I’m like “Damn, you’re crazy!”


J: “This person is insane!”

M: I think sometimes I have written somewhere… Like I’ve literally written… Because sometimes I notice it’s coming off as wild. And then I write something like “By the way mom, if someone murdered me and you read this, I’m sorry.” I literally wrote that sentence.

J: What was going on…

M: “I promise I’m ok”

J: “Besides the fact that I’m not there anymore because I got murdered”

M: “I was ok while I wrote this”

M: We were talking about learning as well. I feel we have talked about that a lot. And we actually just talked about it before we started recording and before the person started drilling. The different ways that people learn and the fact that it’s so hard to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. For me, in general, with art, with literally everything I learn, I have to experiment, and I have to make mistakes, and I have to learn it sort of intuitively. You can explain what this means, but you talk about embodiment, and sort of having to do it, and using your body to do something. And I’m 100% like that. And other people are not. Other people can just read a text and sort of think about it, and then they get it. Or watch a video and then think about it… I can’t do it.

J: Me neither.

M: Yeah and it’s so hard, as a teacher. I do a bit of teaching as well, so do you. You have to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and be like “This works for me but it clearly doesn’t work for you” and it’s so hard to grasp that.

J: Yeah, these last few years I have supervised a lot of students. And when I just started I thought “Ok! I have a good recipe that works! And I’m just gonna do it with every student!” And I realised oh hell no. Oh my god. And they’re all brilliant. It’s just, supervising someone is much more about the person than the topic. Anyway, they’re all brilliant but they all come with their own ways of learning, ways of dealing with things, and when I first started working with learning scientists, we had a conversation about the difference between guiding and scaffolding, and how we define it. Guiding is like you take someone by the hand, and then you make them go here, and you make them go there, and here, and there, until we reach the goal, which is “I have learnt some knowledge!” But scaffolding is more like you look at them, you let them do random stuff, and when you see they go a bit too far away you just poke them a bit.

M: Yeah, no that's an edge, that’s a cliff…

J: You’re gonna fall! Come back! You’re on fire!


J: But I think it’s a really nice analogy. Some people need that kind of guidance. But not necessarily for learning, but to feel safe and to feel engaged with the topic. But some people really need this kind of freedom to explore, still with someone who knows a bit and can be a bit like “Ok, just… don’t die…”. And I think that’s a nice way of thinking about those things, and I feel I’m more someone who needs scaffolding. Because if someone guides me too much I feel very frustrated and I just disconnect. I’m like “Yeah, sure, I'm gonna do what you say but I’m not gonna put my brain in it.”

M: Yeah! Sometimes if someone is doing that too much I’m like “Okayyyy I do what youuu tell meee noow” and then I just forget that I have an agency of my own and I don’t learn anything on the way at all because I’m just doing as I’m told.

J: And if you learn that way, if you learn that perfect recipe… It depends on people right, but in some cases you’re a bit more hesitant to change it a bit and experiment with it a bit. You’re like “This is the amount of sugar I need, I’m gonna count all the sugars!” And it gets a bit more difficult to experiment around or to create around and if you have some appeal towards creativity and stuff like this it can be even more frustrating to have those very framed ways of doing things.

M: I just get sad. Really! If I feel constrained in that way I literally get sad and I’m like “Okay there’s nothing here for me.” Because if you take a creative person who’s biggest strength is to do that, to just wing things and just fuck around and just figure things out through that fucking around. And if you take that away from them, you take everything. And then it’s like “Okay there’s no place for me anywhere.”

J: And then it’s also that your biggest strength, not strength, but the thing that fulfils you the most is made useless in a way and you’re like “Oh, do I exist for nothing? Where is my space to explore this?” I remember… I spent a few months in Argentina and I went to a concert. And it was a woman who took toys, toys that you give kids and make noises. And she just opened them and made a music instrument out of this. She had a gameboy and also some of those princess wands, where you just press a button and it goes “Tududu you’re a fairy!” And she just opened them up and made a huge music instrument, and she was making a whole show out of it. And I was like “I would have never been allowed to break a toy.” And I thought it’s nice to have this space for exploration and messiness and you might end up breaking something but I feel the kind of creativity you can get out of it is very important and some people really need that space at a deeper level even.

M: Have you read Mythologies, by Roland Barthes? Is that his name? French? French person?

J: I have not read all the french things.

M: WHAT! You must read all the french things.

J: Sorry, I’m a wrong French.

M: He’s a philosopher of art. So, philosophy of art is called “aesthetics”. So a philosopher of art is called…

J: An aesthetical! An aesthetist!

M: An aesthetist? It’s something like that! Because it’s not an esthetician because that’s someone who does your eye lashes and shit.

J: Well…

M: … Maybe the same…

J: … What he was doing in his private time…


M: So, he wrote a lot about art, clearly. And this book is a lot of different chapters about everyday things. I think it was written in the 1950s or something. And I think it's sort of everyday things that we take for granted. No wait! He was not at all a philosopher of art! He was a linguist! I think! But he wrote a lot about art too! But he was a linguist! Because this was about semiotics, which is a about symbols and sh*t.

J: Yeah, that would make sense with Art.

M: So this book is a bunch of different chapters about everyday things, he has one on margarine, one on wine, oh that’s a lot of food. One on plastic, I can’t remember all of them. But it’s super interesting because he just looks at these things and dissects them and you’re like “Hah, I should never look at plastic the same way again”. And he has one on toys, and especially french toys, because he was French I guess and maybe he was not sure if it was the same in all countries.

J: Baguette toys… Musical croissants…

M: Bérêt !

J: Oh, Bérêt !

M: Yeah! Look at me! It’s called like French toys and it says that if you have a toy, like an object it’s very seldom that this toy allows for creativity. It’s very often that it’s like a car, or a doll, or a house, or whatever. You know, you have Lego and you can build things and whatever, that’s good. But it’s very rare that you can just have a thing that you can do whatever you want with, that allows for that creativity. I just thought of that when you mentioned the toy lady.

J: That’s her name now: A show by the toy lady!


M: That’s how I’m learning too, because if you have a bunch of things and it’s predetermined what they do, and if I don’t put the train on the track, I have failed. I have failed at playing. Which is so sad.

J: Yeah… Like I can’t even play.

M: I can’t even do that. 5 years old Julia like “Damn it, I can’t, I want to put it upside down, and eat it, but I’m not allowed to!” And I can imagine that this is something not just with toys but also with adult things.

J: When I came to Switzerland, one of my first job was to make some sort of video games for creativity and learning and stuff like this, and I read a lot about what games are supposed to be, and… That sounds weird, I read about what games are. My life was so sad I didn’t know before.

M: Classic PhD student! What are… What is a game actually?


J: That’s why they said “You should do a PhD, you’re getting annoying”. But I found the difference between how we define a game and a toy, and I thought that’s quite interesting. Ok, let me tell you about it, if you want.

M: I’m at the edge of my seat! I’m at the edge of the floor here.


J: Basically a game is something where you have a clearly defined goal, and a clearly defined set of rules, and you win the game by reaching the goal and respecting those rules. It’s changing now, but in most video games you need to survive, or you need to kill the opponent, or you need to take care of that pet,... However, a toy doesn’t have a bunch of rules. It has some affordance for playfulness, for having fun with it. But you know, a doll, it doesn’t have a bunch of rules like “Hey! You have to dress it that way and you won at the doll!” And kids handle toys very very well, they don’t need this. And I feel, from times when we have people try what we create, after a certain age it’s much more difficult. Grown-ups are much more “What am I supposed to do?”. Just have fun! “But what is the goal?”

M: The goal is fun! “What does that mean?!”

J: Create your own goal!! “What?! How do I gain points?!” But I feel it’s changing with video games, we have much more toys than games now in that field as well, but I thought that was a very interesting distinction. And that you can have fun without having a clear goal about how you should be having fun. I thought that was interesting.

M: Yeah that’s cool.

M: I talked to a friend of mine, Adam, who is doing his PhD in philosophy, and he sort of defined art as… Did he say maybe? No I think he said playfulness. Or did he say game? Now I don’t like that definition anymore. Now that you told me this.

J: Adam! I’m sorry!


M: Adam! Get your shit together!

J: We’re coming for you!


M: But I don’t remember, maybe I’m throwing him under the bus by saying he called it a game. But it makes sense that there is that distinction. A game, generally, you need to go from A to B, whatever that entails. And if you have just play, just the act of play… Maybe that’s what he said, maybe I’m not throwing him under the bus. Maybe it’s just about the act of creation, whatever that may entail. But as adults, when do we ever engage in play. I know when I do it, it’s when I train Jiu Jitsu, or when I make art.

J: Jiu Jitsu is just an excuse for grown-ups to play. It’s a very good example. I mean, I know there’s a bunch of rules, I just never learnt them.


M:: We just don’t care about them. You know, I have a friend, she never did Jiu Jitsu and I just forced her to come to a class. And you sort of had to get to your opponent’s back, to choke them, to murder them. And you know you have to get through all of these steps to get there. And she was like “And the knee, and this, and this, and this, and then I spoon you.”

J: Awwww

M: I like this version more, just laying there as the little spoon.

J: Death by spooning.


M: It was so nice.

J: But it’s accurate, right?

M: Right!

J: We don’t call it that way, but we know it’s what it is. You’re not like “Guillotine choke!!”, no, no, more like “Cute cuddle”. You just have to tap, but you know…

M: I’ll hold you in my bosoms.

J: Is it not comfortable? Yeah, that’s a good example.

J: One thing I have, but last time I tried to explain this to someone, we had a strong disagreement, so… I feel music is one of those things. You can create music out of almost everything, and even within a specific instrument, you don’t have to use it in the specific way it was designed to be used. You can play around. Like at this concert, the Avishai Cohen Trio concert we went to.

M: The episode where I ranted about music, it was this concert. You and I went there. With Emma I think it was, yes, she was sitting here, and I was “Yeah, we went to this concert yesterday, it was so good!”.

J: But those three individuals, they were playing with these instruments. The goal was not to create music, they were just playing. Also we’re saying “I’m playing an instrument”.

M: Yeah and they were playing with them.

J: “Playing an instrument?” At least in French we say that.

M: Yeah, “to play an instrument”

J: Ah ok! Hmm, nevermind. But they were playing with these instruments and they were creating music which was the outcome.

M: Yeah, it was like a by-product even.

J: Yes, exactly! Especially, when the drummer started this solo…

M: Oh my god.

J: This woman is having the fun of her life! She has this toy, she’s playing with it, and somehow it makes nice noises, you know.

M: I was so transfixed, I was staring at her with my mouth open. I was drooling.

J: The drooling was a bit annoying.

M: You were sitting in front of me so it was landing on your head. I’m kidding! This did not happen!

J: Hmm, hmm.


M: It was insane.

J: But that’s like grown-ups having fun. I think music is also a way for grown-ups to have fun. Maybe not all musicians are having fun with it, but it’s one way of having fun and you can really do it with everything.

M: I’m still thinking about that concert, it was so good. And with music, I play a tiny bit of piano. Did I say this already? On the train back home from that concert, I literally emailed my old piano teacher, like “Hello, can we do lessons again? I need to learn how to play music.”

J: It’s 2 am.

M: It’s an emergency!


M: So I started taking lessons. I had a year and a half break, now I have started again. I’m so happy about it. So I play a tiny bit of piano. I’m at that phase when you can’t really play yet. You can but not when anyone is listening.

J: You shouldn’t have an audience, that’s the condition for the playfulness to happen.

M: You have to get over that stage and that’s hard, right. Be it with Jiu Jitsu, when you just like “Euh” and then you fall over and you hurt your head. It’s awkward, and same with the piano, you’re just pressing random keys, nothing makes sense. As soon as you have the basics, in whatever, then you can start playing. And as soon as you get to that place, it’s like “Fuck yeah!” But you have to put in the work, and that’s a pain.

J: Especially with specific instruments. Are they called “Wind instruments”? The ones where you “Ffffff” in it? I don’t know the name in English.

M: Blow instruments? Yeah, like trumpets and shit.

J: Yeah, my brother learnt the clarinet and I know that for a year, he was doing “Pftftftftftuuu”. He was learning how to.

M: The piano doesn’t sound bad, it doesn’t hurt your ears, but this one…

J: It hurts! It does hurt.

J: I kinda rediscovered music. We were talking about that space for messiness, and creativity, and I did try to learn music when I was a kid and I was going to this school of music, and they were forcing me to learn a whole bunch of things, and the music language and everything. Which was interesting but it was not exactly fun. And then I had to follow those recipes: I have to put my fingers that way on the guitar, and do this in a specific order… And when I met my partner a few years ago, he’s a musician, and you can give him any instrument and he’s gonna have fun with it. And he has no idea how.. Well, he starts to know now how those things are called, but the way he approaches it is like “Oh these things can make sounds!” and he just starts touching things and these things start making sounds and he’s very happy about it. And it gave me this will of not learning music but playing with music again. I like this approach much more, you can have fun and create sound things. It’s very nice.

M: And it’s that perfectionism again. Maybe I should have an audience when I’m just fucking around on the piano, and I should own it! Well, I probably shouldn’t, but I shouldn’t be ashamed of that. I shouldn’t be ashamed that I don’t know that now it’s a G, and then the “ptptpt” I know. Because that’s where I am now. If I press the wrong button and it’s not on the sheet music, then I did it badly, and then again, I failed at playing. I failed at playing music, and I failed at life, clearly.

J: You can play for me because I don’t have any ear, it can be all wrong and I will be like “Oh! You made music!”

M: “I hear music! Amazing!”

M: I think we need to wrap up. It’s also lame, just saying wrap up all the time.

J: Just when the drill stops.

M: True! F*ck!

J: This person really picked the proper half an hour in the day.

M: Should I cut this out or should I keep it? I think I’m gonna keep it, because it’s fun. And also it’s too much work, cutting it out. People might get annoyed and stop listening.

J: But… cut.. Cut… Just a normal conversation.

M: “What did you do?” Thank you! This turned out well, although none of us knew what we were doing.


J: We played…

M: We played!

J: … with the conversation.

M: We did! And see: we succeeded. Farewell, thank you for this!

J: Farewell!


To go further:

Roland Barthes, Mythologies

From Jesse Schell, The Art of Game Design – A Book of Lenses: “Toys are fun to play with for their own sake. In contrast, games have goals and are a much richer experience based around problem solving. We should never forget, though, that many games are built on top of toys. A ball is a toy, but baseball is a game. A little avatar that runs and jumps is a toy, but Donkey Kong is a game. You should make sure that your toy is fun to play with before you design a game around it. You might find that once you actually build your toy, you are surprised by what makes it fun, and whole new ideas for games might become apparent to you.”

Myers, D. (2018). A Toy Semiotics, Revisited. In Toys and Communication (pp. 47-60). Palgrave Macmillan, London. “the game conventionally enables and evokes rule-based meanings; the toy does not.”

Costikyan, G. (2002). I Have No Words & I Must Design: Toward a Critical Vocabulary for Games. Computer Games and Digital Cultures Conference Proceedings. “Some years ago, Will Wright, in a speech at the Game Developers Conference, described SimCity, which he designed, as a software toy. He offered a ball as an illuminating comparison: It offers many interesting behaviors, which you may explore. You can bounce it, twirl it, throw it, dribble it. And, if you wish, you may use it in a game: soccer, or basketball, or whatever. But the game is not intrinsic in the toy; it is a set of player-defined objectives overlaid on the toy.“