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‘