Unlike many actions in life, Play is the most puzzling one. Seemingly purposeless, all creatures from humans to the smallest of insects display play-like characteristics. So why? I’ve come up with some ideas for it’s existence. Play does not necessarily have to be done in groups, it can be done solo. Thus making opportunities for play to increase. Play doesn’t even need to be done with an inanimate object when done solo, it can be complete autonomous to the individual playing, such as dancing. In young animals, play is used for exploring and investigating surroundings. It is also used to practice and develop fighting skills which is useful for survival in a predator-prey environment. Alternatively play is used to better the skills of a predator. Play fights are also used to assert dominance. Play is used to become a better courter which is useful when mating season arrives.
More obvious reasons for play include a method to expend excess energy, alleviate boredom and relieve stress. It may also be the result of drugs, for example catnip. Play may be initiated in order to get something in return, such as a ‘trick’ for a treat. Play may also be used to get attention. It may also be a form of excercise. It also is a unintentional way of maintaining reactive responses.
Play is a very important part of my life. I use it as a way to dismiss failures as play trials and thus gain experience and prepare me for future endeavors. I’ve used play all through my life and will continue to do so. Like the household board game, Life is a game, to be played often.
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Oliveira, A.F., Rossi, A.O., Silva, L.F., Lau, M.C. and Barreto, R.E. (2009) Play Behaviour in Nonhuman Animals and the Animal Welfare Issue. Journal of Ethology.
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Pilley, B. (2009) Five reasons to play Aion. Massively Daily News about MMOs.
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