Wednesday, December 31, 2008

When is entertainment not entertainment?

A person playing a game of Solitaire with a deck of cards is engaging in a recreational activity, which can involve emotional involvement ranging from the euphoria felt from a win, to the disappointment of a loss, but is this genuinely an entertainment experience, or another form of recreation? A game of Solitaire with a deck of cards passes the time, so it is a pastime, it involves participation so it is also leisure, if it is participated in regularly it may also be a hobby, but whether it can also be considered entertainment hinges on the philosophical debate as to whether the player who is generating the activity can also be the audience to it. In other words, is it possible to be both the entertainer and the audience at the same time? There will undoubtedly be various viewpoints on this, some who will believe that it is, as well as those who do not. In the same manner it could be asked does a person singing entertain themselves? And does a person sculpting entertain themselves? They are all likely to be occupied and involved in what they are doing, they may be doing what they are doing as part of a recreational pursuit, their activities may also be amusing, enjoyable and satisfying, but is this really entertaining to them whilst they are doing it? As I have highlighted previously, there is no globally accepted definition as to what exactly constitutes entertainment, leisure, and recreation, in the same way that even global bodies such as the United Nations cannot agree between their own departments (UNCTAD and UNESCO) as to what exactly constitutes culture and creativity. Until a globally accepted definition of ‘all of the above’ can be given, this debate will remain a largely philosophical one, and entertainment sub-sectors such as gaming will always struggle in terms of identity as to whether they belong wholly, partially, or not at all within the entertainment industry.

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