Play is Vital



TED Talk: “Why play is vital – no matter your age” presented by Dr Stuart Brown from the National Institute for Play in New York.

Dr Brown’s research indicates that there is a strong correlation between success and playful activity. Play is an altered state, and it’s this state that allows us to explore the possible.

Play changes or overrides:

  •       Nature
  •       Behaviour
  •       Outcomes

Types of play as identified by Dr Brown:

Body play – spontaneous desire to escape gravity – playing for play’s sake – no purpose but the joy of play

Object play – play is practical and need curiosity and exploration with our hands to help solve problems

Social play – if you want to belong

Rough and tumble play – learning medium for all, be chaotic and develop emotional regulation

Spectator play

Ritual play

Imaginative play — Internal narrative story

Solo play

Our own play history is unique and personal, and can be a transforming force.

Importance of play to creative thinking leading from Mihaley Csikszentmihalyi’s idea of

FLOW = fully immersed in what they are doing

= energised focus

= full involvement

= success in the process


What has this to do with learning and learning using games?

It reaffirms the “permission to play” idea I was interested in exploring by adding to this idea in these ways:

  •       Play is a biological human need.
  •       Play releases the passion within us.
  •       Play enables humans to form trusting relationships.
  •       Play enables humans to safely explore, to be curious, to connect, and to learn.
  •       Play helps contextual memory of events, places, and people.
  •       Play empowers humans, and enriches life experiences.
  •       Play is a freedom and an opportunity.


Here is the talk – 26 minutes in total.


Image: ‘Play with the Earth‘

2 thoughts on “Play is Vital

  1. I agree wholeheartedly and I still argue that for teachers and students to embrace the emerging technologies, they need time to play and then the wonderful applications that might be had, wil be inspired from the ‘play time”

  2. Absolutely Anne – adults and children all need time to play. I think then that creativity can be unleashed, and as you say ……. “inspiration from “playtime”.

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