The Need to Play

By Bernie DeKoven

As the pace of change increases, games become an increasingly attractive occupation, playfulness an increasingly valuable asset. Play is how we have learned to learn.

Instructions? We don’t need no stinkin’ instructions. We play our way to understanding. We learn how to use a new browser, not by reading about it, but by using it, playing with it. That’s how we learn how to work our smartphones and iPads, microwaves and multi-function thermostats. We use them, we play with them.

“Instructions? We don’t need no stinkin’ instructions. We play our way to understanding.”

When we play, especially when we are playful, we are most able to respond to change, to changes in ourselves, in our community, in our environment. When we play playfully even failure becomes part of the game. Just like when we were kids playing with blocks, we keep building, block-by-block, until it all falls down, then start over. Sure, you can build on what’s still standing. Sure, you can knock them down, too.

This is why play is traditionally identified as childish, as what children do. Childhood is a state of continuous, rapid change, of having to adapt to a changing body, a growing mind, with changing needs, changing purposes, changing abilities. Of falling down and getting up again and falling down again. Of making messes and sometimes even breaking things on purpose just so you can see what’s inside.

“Play itself hasn’t changed. What’s fun might have, but the fun of play, the attraction, the need for play is the same as it has always been.

Children seem to be almost always at play, because this is how they can best engage with a world they don’t understand, because this is how they have the most fun.

Play itself hasn’t changed. What’s fun might have, but the fun of play, the attraction, the need for play is the same as it has always been. And neither has the fun of playing changed. And neither has the fun of playing alone, nor the fun of playing together, nor even the fun of work, even. Games have changed and will continue to change. The nature of work has changed and will continue to change. But play is fun, as much fun now as it was then. Forever.

By understanding play in all its many meanings and manifestations, we can build a solid foundation for understanding our world, in all its meanings and manifestations.

Bernie DeKoven has made a life of exploring his own playful nature. He’s the author of several books including The Well Played Game. His website, deepfun.com, showcases his play philsophies and play resources. Bernie also teaches the Playful Path: that fun is fundamental to happiness and people can make things more fun.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s