What Is Play?



Play is pedagogical. Play is not always fun but it is always stimulating. Usually, play is regarded as “the business of childhood”(CPHA). Play is an “integral part of every child’s healthy development”(CPHA). However, I think play should not be only an integral part of childhood development but part of lifelong development. Play that “is not limited to...childhood” (Farne) may be critical in the “development of the individual”(Farne).

Play is by nature compromising. A child does not play because they wish to. They play because they have to. “Children are forced to live in a world that was not designed with them in mind” (Bogost). Play is a mechanism for children to adapt to an unfamiliar world. Play is pedagogical because it is through play children learn and adapt to the world. But why do we think that play should be relegated to children?

Play is when we take something that was not designed for us or to serve our needs or our concerns and then design, augment and treat it as if it was meant for us. Play is not doing what we want but doing what we can with the material that we find along the way. And fun is not derived from the experience of play but from tinkering a part of the world that was not meant for us to serve our needs.

“As Adults, we are also not in control of our world” (Bogost) nor do we know everything there is to know in the universe. So why do we approach our day to day tasks and problems as if we know everything and that we are in control? Would life not be better if every problem and challenge become an invitation to play?

Bogost , Ian. “Talks at Google | Play Anything.” Google, Google,


CPHA. “What Is Play?” Canadian Public Health Association | Association Canadienne De Santé Publique,


Farné, Roberto. (2005). Pedagogy of Play. Topoi. 24. 169-181. 10.1007/s11245-005-5053-5.