Maker Hacker

Play More

Shuffle off the seriousness and open your mind to the marvelous possibilities of play.

Play more. It sounds simple enough. Cast off the shackles of seriousness. Tear down the walls of petty limitation. Open yourself to a flood of fanciful fun.

Oh, you don’t have time? You think that play is trivial? It is. That’s the point.

Play is a place where failure can’t exist, a mental space of action for its own sake. “Just playing” is a golden phrase, loaded with liberation.  It brings you through a mental clearing to a palace of possibility where self-reproach and preconception have long been banished. Play is expansiveness, an open canvas, a laboratory for action and thought.

You won’t be surprised to hear that playing makes us happier, more confident, and more open to promising new ideas. Playful action incinerates the tired habits, calcified identities, and stale modes of thought that hold us back. Without a destination, the journey becomes richer. Play energizes and vivifies our natural impulse to explore and create.

The muses favor those who play. Even temporarily released from the scripts of social convention, we can find ourselves in the strange realm of opportunity and awe. Play helps us to imagine possibilities that we never would dare to think of otherwise.

Kids may be the pros at play but there’s still time for us to learn from them. We’d do well to tap into our childhoods and reconnect with the freedom and openness of youthful foolery. Maybe that’s why we’re often attracted to games and experiences tied to nostalgia. They remind us of a time when clowning around wasn’t so hard to do.

The best companies have realized that playful experiences make for more open and engaged followers. Undirected enjoyment has a unique power to enflame brains and earn attention. Playful positivity is contagious. It isn’t about media impressions or “likes,” it’s about deep connection and extraordinary participation. It’s all about play.

And we should all play more.

Got you hooked? Here’s more:

Consider

“Tales of creativity and play”
Video of IDEO CEO Tim Brown speaking at the 2008 Serious Play conference

Transform

Toys into medical tools
Tina Rosenberg writes on playful DIY medical design for the New York Times

Study

John Cleese on Creativity
Watch a talk given by this legendary comedian on the creative power of play

Read

Homo Ludens [PDF]
Johan Huizinga’s ur-text on cultural study of play

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