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Role and imaginary situation: their significance and motivation for game activity

The question of the motives of gaming activity seems to be one of the central ones. It is no coincidence that the main differences in views on the game centered around the problem of motivations leading to the game. Theories of pleasure, pleasure, internal primary drives, self-affirmation - all the “deep theories” are in essence the theories of those motivating forces that bring the game to life. The main flaw of these concepts is how they examine the incentive forces of the game: they are based on these concepts in the subject, in the child - his experiences. Theories ignore the fact that the experiences themselves are only secondary symptoms that accompany the activity and testify to the process, but do not say anything about the real objective motivators of the activity.

With regard to development, even such a point of view has been established that the younger the child, the more he is determined in his behavior by internal, finally, innate biological drives and needs. In reality, it seems to us, the situation is completely different. Note that the stimulating nature of novelty, discovered in the research of N. L. Figurin and M. P. Denisova (1929), was not sufficiently appreciated when discussing the reasons for the activities of a small child. The solution of the general question of the motives of human activity is not now included in our task. Our task is to approach the analysis of the motives of the game.

One of the first works in which an attempt was made to experimentally solve this problem was the study of L. S. Slavina (1948) 1. L. S. Slavina began the study with observations of games on the same plot of children of younger and older preschool age. Games, despite the identity of the plot, differed significantly in children of different age groups. Children were offered elementary games with everyday subjects: in the "family" or "kindergarten." The observations were carried out in a separate room in which there were specially selected toys: dolls, furniture, tableware and tea utensils, a stove with kitchen utensils, as well as several buckets and plates larger than all dishes, many small cubes and bricks that can be placed in buckets and plates. At the same time, for several sessions, each lasting from one to one and a half hours, two children were studied.

Let us dwell very briefly on the characteristic features of the game of senior preschoolers revealed in observations. Children usually agree on roles, and then unfold the plot of the game according to some specific plan, recreating the objective logic of events in a certain, rather strict sequence. Each action performed by a child has its logical continuation in another, replacing it. Things, toys and furnishings get their game values, which are stored throughout the game. Children play together and their actions are interconnected.

Acting out the plot and role fills the whole game. It is important for children to fulfill any requirements associated with the role, and preschoolers subordinate their game actions to them. There are unwritten, but mandatory for the players, internal rules arising from the role and the game situation. As the game unfolds, the number of internal rules increases, which apply to more and more game moments: role relationships between children; values ​​attached to toys; sequence in plot development.

The actions performed by children in the game are subordinate to the plot and role played. Their fulfillment is not a goal in itself, actions always have a service value, only realizing the role, they are generalized, shortened and whole, and the older the children, the more convoluted and conditional their actions become.

A similar plot and produced with the same objects and in the same situation, the game of younger children is of a significantly different nature. Toddlers, starting with looking at toys and choosing ones that somehow seemed more attractive to them, start

1 The study was conducted under the guidance of A. L. Leontiev and L. I. Bozhovich.

individually manipulate them, performing monotonous repetitive actions for a long time, without showing any interest in what and how the neighboring child plays.

Here is one of the entries contained in the study of L. S. Slavina. There are two girls in the experimental room: Lucy and Olya, both 4 years old.

Lucy arranged the furniture, put the dolls at the table, then went to the table on which there were cubes, and began to shift the cubes from one large bucket to another. This continues until the end of the game. At this time, Olya, turning her back to Luce, lays cubes on plates. Plates are stacked. She takes one cube from the nearest bucket, puts it on a plate, removes it from the pile and puts it on an empty chair. Then he takes the next cube, etc., until he has used more than 40 plates in this way. Then she just as methodically took cubes from each plate and put them in a bucket, and again laid the plates in stacks. When she finished, she started all over again. This game lasted 1 h. 20 min. Neither one for the entire time of the game has ever turned to a partner, nor did she give any decisive attention to the dolls. To the experimenter's question: “What are you playing?” - Lucy nevertheless answered: “To kindergarten”.

Exp. Who are you?

Lyusya. I am the leader.

Exp. And you?

Olya. So do I.

Exp. What are you doing?

Lyusya. I’m cooking dinner.

Exp. Olya, what are you doing?

Olya. I'm handing out porridge. (1948, pp. 17-18.)

L. S. Slavina emphasizes that, despite this nature of actions, children believe that they portray an event and play certain roles. The subjects declare some plot and role, however, the entire real content of the games consists only of a series of actions with toys, which, however, are given concrete significance. They rub carrots, wash dishes, cut bread. The characteristic features of the actions are seen in the following. Firstly, they are not included in the system; if the child cut bread or laid out lunch, then all this is not offered to the dolls, that is, it is not used to unfold the plot; secondly, actions are performed with toys, conventionally designating real objects (a cube — a carrot), and are detailed, long-lasting.

Thus, in the games of younger children there is a known contradiction. On the one hand, their play in its real content is a simple repetitive action with objects, and on the other, it seems that there is both a role and an imaginary situation that do not affect the actions performed by the child, do not become the main content as we see it in older children. Naturally, the researcher faced the question of the role function and the game situation in such a game.

To clarify this issue, L. S. Slavina conducted the first series of experiments. She decided to try to remove from the game all those toys that could push children into certain stories and related roles. Children were selected whose game content was reduced to the described actions, but nevertheless talking about the role and plot. After the game was unfolding, all the plot toys (dolls, stove, dishes, etc.) were removed and only those with which they actually performed actions were left. These were cubes and wheels (in large quantities) and, or 2 buckets and 3 large plates, or, for other children, 6-8 small plates.

Since the results obtained in this case are extremely instructive, we present in full the protocol of one such experiment.

Lida (4 years 1 month). At the beginning of the experiment, all the toys were made available to the girl. Lida immediately, not paying attention to the other toys, begins to shift the cubes from the bucket into a large plate.

Exp. Who are you?

Lida. I am Aunt Nadia.

Exp. What are you doing?

Lida. I’m cooking dinner. (Playing like this for 20 minutes.)

Exp. The dolls are broken, the sofa too, they need to be repaired. (He takes all the toys except the pails, cubes and large plates that the child is actually occupied to another room. Lida continues to play as before).

Exp. What do you play?

Lida. To a kindergarten.

Exp. What are you doing?

Lida. I’m cooking dinner.

Exp. To whom?

Lida. Dolls.

Exp. But there are no more dolls!

D and D a. They are in that room.

Exp. No, they are broken, they need to be repaired, now there is no one to cook dinner for. You do not cook dinner anymore; there is nobody to eat it. You can’t play kindergarten now. Look, there are no dolls, no furniture or utensils either.
Just play dice. (Lida continues to shift blocks from the plate to the bucket and vice versa.)

After a few minutes, the experimenter again asks: “What are you playing?”

Lida. To a kindergarten.

Exp. What are you doing?

Lida. I’m cooking dinner.

Exp. To whom?

Lida. To the guys (points out the window). They're walking.

Exp. They will walk for a long time, you better not play in kindergarten, but just in cubes. After all, you have no one to feed dinner: the guys are walking, the dolls are broken and there are no toys. (Lida continues to play.)

A few minutes later, to the experimenter's question “What are you playing?” - Lida again answers: “To kindergarten”.

Exp. What are you doing?

Lida. I’m cooking dinner.

Exp. To whom?

Lida. I’ll eat it myself. (1948, p. 20)

Similar results were obtained with almost all children. Any attempts by the experimenter to withdraw the child from the role and abandon the plot did not lead to success. Children stubbornly held on to some role and plot, sometimes agreeing to replace the role of the teacher with the role of a cook or cooking cutlets for distributing chocolate.

Summing up, L. S. Slavina writes: “The results of this series of experiments convinced us first of all that it is extremely important for children to have both a role and an imaginary situation in their game. Despite the fact that they are practically not beaten by children, it turned out to be impossible to eliminate them from the game. Indeed, this insistent desire to preserve the role and imaginary situation at all costs in their game is the best proof of their need for the child to play at this early stage of its development ”(ibid., P. 21).

Having established the need for a role and an imaginary situation for children to play at a very early preschool age, L. S. Slavina wondered about the function that they perform in this outward-looking object-manipulative game. In connection with this issue, a second series of experiments was carried out, consisting of two interrelated stages.

At the first stage, children received only those toys that were usually used for simple manipulative actions. After the subjects began to act with objects and, having satiated, expressed a desire to stop the game and leave, the experimenter, agreeing that it was time to stop the game, simultaneously introduced all the other plot toys into the situation and offered them to play “kindergarten” or “mother-daughter” ".

Children at this stage were very little interested in the game. In most cases, they simply put the cubes in buckets or placed them on plates. The duration of the game was relatively very short - no more than 10-20 minutes, the children quickly "saturated" and expressed a clear tendency to leave the experimental room under any pretext. Some, after several manipulations, found their meaning in such an activity and turned it into a kind of activity of creating patterns from cubes and pebbles, laying them right on the table or in the most varied way on plates. We give two examples of children's behavior at this stage of the experiment.

Olya (4 years 1 month) received 3 buckets with cubes and stones and 3 large plates from the experimenter.

Exp. Here are the toys. Do you want to play?

Olya. Yes. (He picks up one dice, then takes another four in turn. Holds them for several seconds in his hands, puts them back. He stands. Picks up several cubes at once, puts them back, takes them again. Holds them in hands. Shifts them from hand to hand. From the beginning the experiment took 5 minutes, I took a plate and began to lay out the cubes in the shape of a plate.

Exp. What are you playing?

Olya is silently embarrassed, then says: “I have a bucket and a dustpan at home.”

Exp. What are you playing now?

Olya. Here it is.

Exp. And who are you?

Olya continues to shift red cubes from one bucket to another.

Exp. Do you want to play more?

Olya. No, I will go to the group.

Exp. Have you already played enough?

Olya. Yes, I don’t want to play anymore (leaving for the group. I played 15 minutes in total). (1948, p. 22-23.)

Tanya (4 years 3 months). The toys are the same as in the previous examples. Tanya immediately began to pick pebbles from all buckets and stack them neatly on top of each other. Fold all the pebbles. He sits for several minutes, doing nothing. Then she began to place them in the form of a track, laying them on the table and trying to ensure that they neatly lay next to each other.

Exp. What are you playing?

Tanya. In pebbles, in cubes and in buckets.

Exp. What are you doing?

Tanya. Here are the pebbles. (He continues to lay out the pebbles. When finished, he sits again, doing nothing, as if he doesn’t know what else to do. Then she began to put one dice on each pebble. After! 8 minutes, she got up and said: “I already played enough”, left to the group.) (Ibid., p. 23.)

Summing up the materials obtained at this stage, L. S. Slavina writes: “So, we saw that the game of children in the first part of the experiment was determined by the physical properties of the game material that was presented to them.

The important fact is that, despite the obvious disinterest of the children in the game they were playing, not one of our subjects in this part of the experiment switched to another type of game. Many of the older children to whom we gave this material on purpose, for the purpose of control, really deployed a wide variety of everyday plot games here ”(ibid., P. 25).

The experiment passed into the second phase when the subjects made attempts to evade actions with the proposed material. At this moment, the experimenter gave the children all the other toys and offered to play a game with a certain plot. Summing up the results of the second phase of his experiment, L. S. Slavina writes: “The matter changed drastically when (in the second part of the experiment) we introduced toys into the game that pushed them into a certain plot and created an imaginary situation and role. Although these toys, as in the games described earlier, were not directly involved in the action of children, the game acquired that expanded form with countless repeating and with great enthusiasm the actions that we have already described in detail.

So, on the material of this series of experiments, we were convinced that the play of children, containing as its general background a role and an imaginary situation, is fundamentally different from those cases of the game when they are not at all. Moreover, the most remarkable thing is that different types of games can be played with the same toys ”(ibid., P. 26).

Based on the materials received, L. S. Slavina comes to the idea that there are two motivational plans in the game of children of preschool age. The first is the direct impulse to act with the child

toys and the second - forming the background for ongoing actions with objects and consisting in the adoption of a certain role that gives meaning to the actions performed with objects.

This explanation does not seem to us sufficiently evidence-based. Rather, one can agree with L. S. Slavina when she writes: “The imaginary situation and role just give a new meaning to the actions that children perform with toys. They translate the manipulation of things into a new plan. A preschooler is no longer just manipulating things, as a preschooler does, and as it may seem when superficially observed. He now plays with objects, performing certain actions with them. That is precisely what the meaning of the game is for him now. Only when an imaginary situation and role arises in the game of children does it acquire a new meaning for them and become that long emotional game that is usually observed in children of this age ”(ibid., P. 28).

Essentially important in the study of L. S. Slavina, we consider three points: 1) experimental evidence that the role that the child takes on fundamentally restructures both his actions and the values ​​of objects with which he acts; 2) the role is introduced into the actions of the child, as it were, from the outside, through plot toys that suggest the human meaning of actions with them; 3) the role is the semantic center of the game, and both the created game situation and game actions serve for its implementation.
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Role and imaginary situation: their significance and motivation for game activity

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