By Nicole Glassman
What is a play?
We start to play very shortly after being born, reaching for a rattle or playing pick –a- boo is a common activity for newborns. This indicates that we have a built in mechanism to be able to play from a very early age. As children grow older they continue to play at more advanced level. A simple box of crayons becomes a tool for artwork and an expansion of the imagination. In the beginning play is unstructured, it becomes complimented by structured and goal oriented play, which is called a game. Play becomes an integral part of childhood development because it creates a beneficial effect on the development of the brain. Through play children learn about the world and about themselves. They grow physically, socially and intellectually. Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget described play as “child’s work.” Play provides children with the basis for success in the future. Dr. Stuart Brown, pioneer in research on play says, “plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults- and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age.”
The National Institute for Play believes that our success as an innovative culture starts with the recognition of the importance of play and allowing play into our daily living. According to Dr. Brown, ” humor, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. They are play that helps people relieve stress, energize and cheer up.” Play also gives a sense of optimism and opens us to new possibilities. It continues to develop imagination, creativity and curiosity. Play makes us smarter and more able to adapt to situations. It brings joy and fun in our lives.
There is no difference between an adult being completely immersed in an activity and a child squealing with delight, they both deeply involved in play.
In the content of games, play gives the player mental challenge and excitement. It gives the player a relief from boredom, or relieve from stress. You can see people playing portable games everywhere, from the busy subway to a fancy restaurant. Being able to figure out a difficult puzzle or find a strategy to a game and get to a higher level gives people a sense of pride and excitement. Some games, like Second Life, allow people to become a new character where they create their own story. Such immersion in a game can even become addictive. People also play games because they create a social network of friends who enjoy the same game. They can play a game with the group of friends at home or they can play a game with people located in many different parts of the world.
Brown, Stuart, The Promise of Play <http://www.stuartbrownmd.com/Play_Chapter%201.pdf>.
Brown, Stuart, The Theory of Play
Opening up to play
Pine, Lila, What is a play? Blog. Web 30m Sept.2009
Play- what is play? The importance of Play, Elements of Children’s Play, Social Elements of Play
Salem Katie and Zimmerman Eric. Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. The MIT Press, 2003