When Should We Play?



Playtime is all the time. Or playtime should be all the time. I know most of you are critical of this statement. And if you are critical of this statement and have not read What Is Play?, I would urge you to read that before reading this. If play is pedagogical and we would like to be constantly learning and evolving, shouldn’t we be playing all the time?

Yes, I know. Many of you are skeptical of my idea of playing all the time as well. When I talk about "play" you probably think about a child playing in a sandbox or with lego, but as adults, we also play. Some of us might “play” an instrument. Others might “play” golf. However, we do not treat these actions as constructive or serious. We treat these actions as a guilty delight. Yet I would argue, whether it is strumming specific strings on a guitar to produce a melody or focusing on the actions and the kinetic link for a perfect golf swing, play “requires greater attention and generosity and respect and investment than the supposedly more serious activities” (Bogost) we do. 

“Learning involves playful experimentation – trying new things, tinkering with materials,
testing boundaries, taking risks, iterating again and again” (Resnick). 

I would take it one step further and say that a playful attitude and nature is required for learning to take place. Play is a “process of tinkering, experimenting, and exploring” (Resnick). Without play, we are merely regurgitating information from one person to another. Play thereby is critical to the learning process and the development of ideas. 

As a result, as lifelong learners, we should also be lifelong players. Play should not be relegated to our childhood or kept as a Sunday delight. Playtime is all the time. If we understand the importance of play, I think we can use it more critically and effectively as a society. Play should not stop at the age of 12 nor does learning start at that age. Play and learning may seem like diametrically opposing concepts, however, they complement each other perfectly. We cannot play without learning new rules or concepts and we cannot learn without playing around, “trying new things, tinkering with materials, testing boundaries, taking risks, iterating again and again” (Resnick). We should be playing all the time because we want to be learning all the time.

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


Resnick, M. (2014). Give P's a Chance: Projects, Peers, Passion, Play. Constructionism and Creativity conference,

opening keynote. Vienna.