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© Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2017 2017 A spark of play everyday © Inter IKEA Systems B.V. 2017 IKEA written Version 1 ® May 2017 and visual communication basics
2 Introduction Introduction 3 "We’re all born with a playful spirit, and all people should play. From the youngest child to the oldest grandparent, playing keeps you free." Qian C. China We believe that play is critical for a better everyday life at home conducted some of the world’s largest research It makes us more creative. It connects us and studies on the Role of Play. The IKEA Play Report “Play should “We understand helps us unwind from modern-day pressures. 2017, is our third Play report. We’ve spent 8 be at the heart of the world through It fuels our development. Play makes the world months connecting, on a regular basis, with everything we do! playing. It’s only bigger for children and grown-ups. more than 300 people in Germany, the US and If you don’t take through play that China to explore how, and why, we play. life too seriously, we’re able to A playful approach to life sparks infinite great things happen! experiment, break possibilities. Play is so much more than toys and For the first time, we’re looking at play from You stay healthy, the boundaries games. It’s a state of mind. It is a way of finding both a child and adult perspective to understand relaxed and fun. of what’s normal fun and joy in everything we do, regardless of what motivates and hinders play, as well as how People gravitate and change and where we are or who we’re with. people across cultures think we will be playing in towards you and evolve ourselves.’’ the future. you have a positive We already know that play is learning for life. influence on the Niklas A. Germany Almost as soon as we are born we begin to play, Our play research has shown us that part of our world around you.’’ and we continue to play for the rest of our lives. job in creating a better everyday life must be to Play shapes who we are and makes us stronger, spark even more playfulness into the home. And Carol P. US more creative and more active. we trust us, we take that responsibility pretty seriously! That’s why at IKEA, play is pretty serious business. So serious, in fact, that we have Let’s get exploring!
4 Contents Contents 5 1. SUMMARY 2. INTRODUCING THE STUDY 3. WHAT IS PLAY? 4. WHY DO WE PLAY? 5. HOW DO WE PLAY TOGETHER? 6. WHAT ARE THE ENABLERS & BARRIERS TO PLAY? 7. WHAT ARE PEOPLE’S PLAY “HACKS”? 8. HOW IS PLAY EVOLVING? 9. CONCLUSIONS 10. REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY
6 Summary Summary 7 What is play? By asking our online community to identify when an activity stops being playful and using the process of Via Negativa (explaining what something is by understanding what it’s not) we have concluded that play is typically lighthearted (not serious), active (not passive), satisfying (not frustrating) and The Play Report 2017 is our third spontaneous (not Play report to date. The scope of obligated). This led us our research has been broader than to a people-generated before, exploring the importance of definition of play: play for adults as well as children. ‘Play, or being playful, We’ve employed a qualitative is engaging in a approach – surveying 300+ lighthearted activity individuals, ages 2-90 across China, that is satisfying and Germany and the US – to explore spontaneous’. the emotional aspects of playing in different contexts, the key drivers and inhibitors of play and emerging trends affecting the future of play. Why do we play? People across cultures have identified 5 key motivators that explain why we play. We call these Play Needs and while multiple Play Needs can be satisfied through one activity, each has a clear emotional benefit at its core. How do we play together? What are the enablers and barriers Some of the most beneficial play is when to play? Play to Repair: children and adults play together. By playing Enablers to play include particularly playful Play helps people to rest, rebalance and together, children and adults strengthen spaces, environments and people, often ultimately repair physically and mentally. intergenerational relationships and learn from including children. People also employ play each other. Whilst every culture and family hacks into their routines, to make chores and Play to Connect: has their own play rituals and traditions, we difficult challenges more playful. The biggest Play enhances bonds and helps people to get have identified six common forms of adult- barriers to play are work, stress and day-to- closer to friends, family and loved ones. child interplay play, including: day responsibilities. Play to Escape: Free-style Play: Play offers moments of freedom away from Undirected play. It is free, spontaneous and How is play evolving? Multi-Sensory Play: everyday obligations, rules and routines. unstructured. The child simply follows their People believe that, although the 5 Play Play will become even more immersive and own play urges, and the adult follows. Needs identified will remain, how, where and all-consuming. In the future, people will play Play to Explore: when people play will change considerably in in artificial environments that are designed Play serves as a tool to learn and develop Build-It Play: the next 10 years. We’ve uncovered 7 play to engage all of their senses. outside the usual frame of reference. Constructive play. Children and adults play trends that could enlighten the future of play together using objects and toys to create and how we, as a society, can play more Blurring of Boundaries: Play to Express: something new, thinking creatively about together. These include ideas like: As life becomes faster and time becomes Play provides a platform to be creative, how best to build it. even more of a rare commodity, play will giving people permission to express a Return to Retro: creep into all aspects of people’s lives. From different version of themselves. Mirror-Me Play: As technology continues to advance at a the workplace to the gym, people will look to Imitative play. Children mirror adult rapid pace, people will continue to rebel by play in traditionally non-playful spaces. behaviour in a playful way by helping them turning to and celebrating nostalgic games out with adult tasks and turning these into from their childhood. a game.
8 Introducing the Study Introducing the Study 9 352 For this year’s Play report, we wanted to go broader than before, exploring the importance of play for people adults as well as children. Over 8 In addition to desk research and literature reviews we used a new mix of qualitative research methodologies. Over 8 months, we stretched ourselves to meet people wherever they are in life to gain a deep understanding of the emotional aspects of playing. This study was conducted in Germany, the US and China. A diverse cross-section of people participated, from as young as 2 and as old as 90. New parents contributed, along with young and single city workers and retired months grandparents, among many others. We conducted the research in Germany, the US and China to have representation from 3 continents. We conducted 18 Play Visits, We interviewed 8 professionals We brought 15 consumers By using qualitative evenly spread over Germany, the with different perspectives on together for a one-day research methodologies, US and China. During these visits, we met people while they did play, dependent on their field of expertise, including a Futurologist, workshop with our product developers, innovation leaders we strove to create a something that they define as play. For example, they took us to the Child Psychologist, playful Fitness Instructor, Immersive Theatre and managers to explore the key elements of play. people-generated Play gym, to their workplace, we went Practitioner, Magician, Teacher, report, with a clear bowling and did tai chi. Sportsman, Tea Ceremony Expert. focus on understanding the human realities and emotions that fuel how We hosted chats in online communities in: and why people play every day, across all aspects of their lives. Germany USA China We spoke to 293 people in an online community for over 8 months, where people were asked to explore their own views, behaviours and experiences related to ‘play’ through a combination of tasks, including creative artwork, video diaries and group brainstorms.
10 Research Questions Research Questions 11 Our aim in this study was to build upon the insights we gained through our previous Play research, by adding an exploration of the importance of play for adults to the study of children’s play. Specific questions we sought to answer were: WHAT IS PLAY? WHY DO WE PLAY? HOW DO WE PLAY? HOW DO WE PLAY ACROSS CULTURES? WHAT ARE THE ENABLERS AND BARRIERS TO PLAY? HOW WILL WE PLAY IN THE FUTURE?
12 What Is Play? What is Play? 13 "So in play we have Play is a topic studied and explored the most serious, by both academics and companies. yet the most trivial Together with our online community, activity through which our children learn. we set out to create a people- And we find it hard to generated definition of play. define. It slips away from us as we try to grasp it." ROY LANGMAID, PSYCHOLOGIST
14 What is Play? What is Play? 15 Play rarely exists when an activity beomes too: SERIOUS UNDERSTANDING PLAY PASSIVE FRUSTRATING OBLIGATED A key challenge to defining play is that – for If play is rarely serious, then play is many people – play is dictated by and driven typically lighthearted. by freedom of spirit, regardless of the form it takes. Ultimately, play is multi-faceted. It Once an activity starts to become more means different things to different people. serious it starts to lose its playfulness and becomes something else, for example, Therefore, instead of asking people what sport. Play, therefore, needs to be fun and play is, we asked them when it ceases to conducted with a smile. exist or is translated into something entirely different. “The same activity can start as play, but quickly turn into something completely They told us: different! Take 5-aside football, for Play rarely exists when an activity example. A kick-about with friends can be becomes too serious. playful but once we start getting into teams Play rarely exists when an activity and keeping score, it’s a lot more serious. becomes too passive. Play has turned into sport.” Play rarely exists when an activity RIGOBERT T. GERMANY becomes too frustrating. Play rarely exists when an activity becomes too obligated. "The minute we start to evaluate it, measure it, train for it, it becomes more When looking at the implications of each serious.’ statement, the process of Via Negativa (a way ROY LANGMAID, PSYCHOLOGIST of describing something by saying what it’s not) helps to provide some structure around play. The boundaries highlight that play can "Play can become serious at moments, start and stop within the same activity. but that’s normally when play translates into feedback. For example, think about Play is dictated by a state of mind, rather when a child plays and accidentally touches than a type of activity. This state of mind something hot, it’s not going to be fun and stretches across countries and cultures. they’re going to get instant feedback. They may then start to play again." JASPER GREEN, TEACHER
16 What is Play? What is Play? 17 WE CONCLUDED The four boundaries help to provide some structure around play, and help to build a people- generated definition of play. "Play, or being playful, is engaging in a light-hearted activity that is satisfying and spontaneous." If play is rarely passive, then If play is rarely frustrating, If play is rarely obligated, play is typically active: then play is typically then play is typically "Play is always active. You have satisfying: spontaneous: "The rules of play are in the minds Play only exists when the to be engaged. Once you are of the players. They might be participants are engaging in the engaged you are connecting to Play is rarely associated with a Once a playful activity becomes written down somewhere in a activity. This could take the shape your senses and connecting to feeling of anger or annoyance. In goal-orientated and/or part of formal game, but in most games, of mental engagement (e.g., your emotions." contrast, at least some level of meeting an obligation, it ceases they’re not. They’re made up as imagination) as well as tangible YESIM KUNTER, satisfaction and enjoyment should to be playful. In contrast, play they go along." and physical engagement through PLAY FUTUROLOGIST be derived during, and potentially enables a break from routine, rules ROY LANGMAID, the body. Ultimately, playing after, a playful activity. and structure. PSYCHOLOGIST requires some level of physical or emotional focus. "Play is active but that doesn’t “Come to think of it, when "Timesheets are a good mean it has to be behaviourally you’re playing a game with your example; people are now to "Play does have rules but I think and physically active. You could kids and you or they start to get attempting to make timesheets they’re made in the moment at ”I find watching ‘Lord of the be sitting and playing in your frustrated for whatever reason, more fun, to improve completion that specific time; they have to be Rings’ playful! My imagination head, for example." the play immediately stops right levels. However, while a different spontaneous." goes into overdrive. However, JASPER GREEN, TEACHER there and then. You can never be approach may make timesheets JASPER GREEN, TEACHER when I’m tired and flicking playing while annoyed or angry at more engaging, I wouldn’t through channels, it’s the furthest the same time.” consider it playing because there thing from play; I’m bored and YING W. CHINA is a clear end goal." un-engaged, simply filling time.” KARLA F. US ADAN T. US
18 Why Do We Play Why Do We Play 19 Theories abound as to why we play. Some track the roots of human play to the importance of promoting harmony and balance within hunter- gatherer societies; others focus on highlighting the role of play in providing stimulus for both motor and cognitive development, especially for children.
20 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 21 Roy Langmaid, a leading psychologist, argues that Object Relations "The relationships we have with objects are the source Theory offers a clear, rationale for how and why humans play, from both a child and adult perspective. In simple terms, Object of who we are. We all start as children, seeking comfort Relations Theory attempts to explain how people interact with the world through a mixture of unconscious needs and lived experiences. and then we start to develop our relational world The theory argues that people’s interactions with the world around them are driven by a combination of four innate desires. through play. As we grow towards being an adult, we begin to develop power and creativity as more adult expressions, but that doesn’t mean we stop playing!" PLAY ROY LANGMAID, PSYCHOLOGIST DESIRE FOR DISCOVERY, LEISURE, RECREATION COMFORT Desires for play and comfort help "I definitely think play children to make sense of the world is fundamental, when you’re young, as a tool as they grow and develop. We seek for making sense of the DESIRE FOR RETREAT AND RECOVERY comfort as babies, and as soon world, the nature of the as we’re able, we start to play. physical environment and the nature of the Later, as people achieve maturity, the acquisition of power and people and the laws creativity becomes more important, and we seek to access that govern it." them. We do so by modelling and associating ourselves with JASPER GREEN, POWER people, places and things that confer power or creativity. TEACHER Interestingly, Roy explains that as our search for power and creativity begins in adulthood, people don’t just stop playing and seeking comfort. Instead, people start to use play in a DESIRE FOR STATUS more progressive way. For example, play can actually provide a springboard to help people achieve their desires for power and creativity. This theory is supported by the people we’ve met during our Play Visits and in our online community. People across PROCREATION cultures primarily talk about how play helps them to seek comfort. In these instances, play is used as a tool to repair and to escape from the stresses and pressures of everyday life. However, people also talk about play in the context of DESIRE FOR LEGACY OF IDEAS AND CREATIVITY developing themselves or enhancing a moment. In these instances, play is used as a tool to help people in their search for power and creativity – from playing to explore yourself and the world around you, to playing to feel liberated and free to express creativity.
22 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 23 01 PLAY TO 02 Play can be mapped in lots of different PLAY TO ways, however the people we met during our Play Visits and in our online community consistently talked about how play answers five key needs. 03 PLAY TO Importantly, these Play Needs are rarely isolated motivations and often a moment of play or playful activity is driven by a combination of 04 needs being met simultaneously. PLAY TO These needs align with the conclusion argued by Object Relations Theory, that play helps to answer a series of evolving desires as people grow up. 05 PLAY TO
24 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 25 WHEN THE DISTRACTIONS FROM THE WORLD AROUND US INCREASE, OUR NEED OF FINDING TIME TO RELAX AND UNWIND ALSO ESCALATES. While our need to repair can be answered through a variety of passive activities, from resting to meditating, play also has a universal role in helping us to repair. The people we spoke to often connected this play need with their childhood, and played to seek comfort and security in anxious, difficult or uncertain times. “I work hard all week long and feel that play is a way to get some of my energy back. I feel worn and taxed after a week of work, and time to play is time to relax and unwind and enjoy myself for a change.” KARLA F. US “Life sometimes is like a spring; if you push it or stretch it too hard, it will be broken. So it is important to play, to relax and have some fun once in a while in order to recalibrate.” WEILIANG L. CHINA Across cultures, “You play alone, or together to switch off, to let the soul free, many people are leave the everyday life behind.’’ SABINE B. GERMANY working longer and harder, with less and less leisure time.
26 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 27 Play to Repair manifests itself in two different ways: 1 2 Firstly, people told us that they Secondly, we consistently heard often turn to familiar activities people adapting their environment when they’re looking to repair and to play in a more natural context. recalibrate, for example, by playing the games that they grew up playing This was especially important for people living as children. in big cities and over-stimulating concrete jungles. From hiking and gardening to running in the park, if done playfully, people told us that a simple and natural setting helped them “I am very relaxed when I play a puzzle to relax, unwind and repair. on the iPad. I am always looking forward to it and enjoy it. This is a good feeling for me.” “Playing outside, whether I’m going for LUDUIG L. GERMANY a run or having a picnic in the park, helps bring me back to my more original self “I really like reading or listening to music. (childlike self). Nature has the power to make people feel more centred.” So when I have free time, I choose a book CULTURAL NUANCES and find a quiet place, and I can read the LORENA R. GERMANY book for the whole day. It makes me feel Interesting cultural nuances emerged: very relaxed, and I learn a lot and feel “Activities to unwind for me are things recharged mentally.” like walking along the lake, hiking, ZIJUAN L. CHINA gardening, spending time outside with my son, going on a picnic.” “Yoga clothes are cozier, they’re not like KARLA F. US tight work clothes. When you get into yoga clothes, it’s like climbing out of everyday In the US, the trend towards In Germany, there is a trend In China, play to repair is routine and into a relaxed world, and it’s “I need to be away from my work and reset myself once in a while. Running is one ‘mindfulness’ is fuelling play towards familiarity through consistently highlighted as the still really playful in a way.” of my favourite activities and I forget about through natural experiences. ‘Thought Play’, known as most important play need. Many SHANNON U. US everything when I run. After running, my Mindfulness is a term used to Gedankenspiel. Thought Play Chinese talk about a challenging pressures (both physical and mental) describe an individual, having a is used to describe the use of work-life balance and use play are relieved.” more intentional sense of imagination to step outside the through the comfort of familiarity SHAN L. CHINA what’sgoing on inside and outside strains of the everyday; examples in order to deal with it. them and in the US this was often include immersing in a familiar done in a playful way book, film or memory.
28 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 29 People are increasingly living more of their lives online and the PLAY CREATES SPACE IN OUR BUSY LIVES TO SLOW ability to deeply DOWN AND GET CLOSER TO FRIENDS, FAMILY AND connect with one LOVED ONES. PLAYING WITH LOVED ONES ENHANCES another is limited by BONDS AND CAN MAKE AN ACTIVITY MORE ENJOYABLE. constant distractions “Playing games has always been very important for me to connect in the modern- with other people and to develop further. So I met a lot of people. day lifestyle. I used to play cards with my girlfriends sometimes, and that was always a lot of fun.” PETRA P. GERMANY “I like sharing play with my friends and family because that makes me feel happier when I am with them.” KEGIN Z. CHINA “I’m a teacher, so I see the different ways that my children play and I play, but that they all involve making a connection with others.” LISA W. US
30 Why Dohead Section We Play? here Why Dohead Section We Play? here 31 Play to Connect manifests itself in two types of play: Stretching across both progressive and regressive motivations. The 1 2 people in our online community told us that connecting through play INTIMATE BONDING STIMULATING PLAY can be intimate and comforting (regressive). It can also be Play offers people across cultures the Play can also be the spark that forms stimulating and a catalyst for forming new connections (progressive) opportunity to seek comfort and security new connections, naturally encouraging cooperation within a group of people, both through engaging in a playful activity with small and large. People told us that socially a small number of individuals they connect stimulating play typically involves higher with on a deeper level. The playful activity energy activities that break down the typically brings familiar individuals (e.g., old boundaries that often inhibit people from friends, family) closer together. People see finding or building new relationships. play as a perfect tool for facilitating real-life relationships and use it as an antidote for living more of their lives online. We heard “I can connect with friends, with family, with mates, with classmates and with sports intimate bonding through play often come to colleagues. You can use card games, social life through traditional activities like card and games or sports games. But you can also board games. play with each other in a band or in a sports CULTURAL NUANCES club or in sports lessons or the youth group. It is important to have fun and get to know Interesting cultural nuances emerged: “Playing for me is interaction with human each other and to exchange ideas.” beings. Facial expressions and gestures are KORNELIA L. GERMANY a part of it. Having a good time together. With a computer I cannot share beautiful “I like playing games together with my moments. With my card game buddies friends, and we sometimes play Xbox I can remember those evenings and together. It is really fun and enjoyable to emotions involved. I don’t have that with fight together or fight against each other. In the US, there is an emphasis In Germany, there is a trend In China, people highlight the a computer.” We talk or sometimes make fun of each on creating real connections by towards connecting through importance of intimate bonding JANA P. GERMANY other when we play together.” unplugging from technology and traditional activities, especially arts through play. They tell us that XING LONG C. CHINA the digital world, often talked and crafts, often labelled as ‘retro'. frequently playing together as a about as ‘reducing screen time’. For example, group pottery and family is important, and family “I think I play to connect, because I Families across the US tell us how knitting are seen as particularly activities often include board consider games with your loved ones or they worry about not spending playful activities for the younger games and picnics. Outside of the friends to develop a better relationship enough time together; and parents generations. Such activities bring family context, social stimulation between them. Personally, I have seen as often see technology as the most people together and facilitate ‘real’ through play often occurs in the people who in their personal relationships significant barrier to intimate connections. form of popular social activities, go very bad, but at the time of playing family-time. such as karaoke. these people can join and set aside their problems and this can even help them to improve their relationships.” LIPING L. CHINA
32 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 33 No matter how happy THESE MOMENTS OF FREEDOM ARE OFTEN and content people BEST WHEN THEY’RE PLAYFUL, BREAKING THE STATUS QUO AND are with their jobs, INTERRUPTING ROUTINES. daily obligations and "I mostly use play to get away from the stresses of my daily life. family commitments, My job can be very, very stressful and it is often difficult to unwind they consistently and relax when I leave. I like to go places and do things that I wouldn’t typically do and that express a strong need gives me a chance to escape … I use play as a way to have fun and to take moments of give myself some much needed relaxation time.” EVE K. US freedom away from their everyday lives.
34 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 35 Play to Escape usually translates into two different forms: 1 TRANSFORMATION Transformative Play is a tool people use 2 DISTRACTION Playing to escape is distraction. While still immersive, playing as a distraction is often to step outside of their everyday life, by a more spontaneous form or play, quick allowing a different or new version of bursts forming brief moments of escape. It themselves to take over through a variety seems to be fuelled by the ever-increasing of playful activities. This transformation can repertoire of devices. Online games such be internally driven, for example by using as Candy Crush and Sudoku are frequent imagination and fantasies, or externally examples of how play can offer people bite- driven through immersive environments that sized moments of distraction. The people facilitate play. Disneyland, VR technology and in our online community talked about these the theatre are all cross-cultural examples of moments as a small oasis, offering peace and how immersive environments facilitate play calm across a busy and stressful day. by transforming people from the ordinary to the extraordinary. “Playing online games is my favourite CULTURAL NUANCES thing to do in my free time. I forget about anything, particularly things that make me Interesting cultural nuances emerged: “Disney Park makes me feel that I can unhappy.” play for escapism. Disney Park is a magical ZHIZHAN G. CHINA world to me. When I enter the park and immerse myself in the rides and attractions in the park, I leave the whole world behind.” JON B. US In both Germany and the US, people mostly play In China, playing to escape is typically articulated as to escape through transformation. People from both small moments of distraction. Generally, people tell cultures offer plenty of examples of when playtime us that they have less time and lots of working rules “I enjoy playing computer games. I allows them to break away and escape into another and obligations and they crave small, and distracting imagine myself as the character in the world or into another version of themselves. An playful moments to break the monotony and stress game. The reality seems to be so far away example: when playful, travel is seen as a common of the everyday. These distractions commonly, these from me when I immerse myself in the way to actively change an environment to alter distractions take the form of sending lighthearted games.” your context and break the traditional rules of the messages to friends and colleagues during work SIXUE W. CHINA everyday. A benefit of transformative play is often meetings, or taking 30 seconds out to play a quick perceived to be a shifted perspective when one game online. returns to ‘normal’ life.
36 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 37 PLAY IS OFTEN A KEY TOOL THAT ENABLES US TO LEARN AND DEVELOP THROUGH EXPLORATION. People experience a need to play that takes them outside of their usual frame of reference, not only as a potential escape (as noted above), but primarily as a way of discovering more. “I 'play to explore' because I like to discover new places, new music and new movies.“ NINA K. US People are curious, looking to learn and develop by better understanding themselves and their social and physical context.
38 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 39 Play to Explore manifests itself in two distinct forms of play: In our research, we’ve found that people across cultures play in order to expand their horizons and discover the world. Parents tell us how 1 IMMERSIVE PLAY Is a form of play where people are 2 PLAY TO DISCOVER Is a form of play that facilitates exploration of either the inner or outer world. A wide completely engaged in an environment and their children are learning and developing through exploratory play, set of stimuli. The environment can be real range of playful activities enable discovery; these activities focus on identifying new and or imagined, but people use that high level previously unknown learnings. For example, developing language, emotions and creativity, as well as physical, social of engagement to explore new possibilities this form of play includes the discovery of by interacting with the stimulus they’re new emotions, physical skills and intellectual and intellectual skills. With adults, play to explore manifests in two surrounded by. Specific examples include capacity. Play to discover is inherently linked Virtual Reality, where a person is immersed to learning and development; activities tend distinct forms of play: playing in a completely immersive environment into a new and different world, and Role Play, to be less structured than other forms of where a person immerses themselves in a play. or setting out on a playful journey of discovery. new and/or different persona. “Take your kids abroad, somewhere totally different. For me the best way to “I discover when I am confronted with play is to take away some of the technology another world foreign to me: as a city and allow us all to learn more about nature person this can be the forest or the farm. and its beauty through play.” CULTURAL NUANCES As an office person, this can be the nature.’’ PATT C. US GEORGE C. US Interesting cultural nuances emerged: “I like play to explore. It is interesting to “Travel is my favourite playful activity, find out / learn new things. The Samsung Gear VR glass is very cool, which enables and I think it belongs to play to explore. me to enter a unique virtual world, inspiring When I travel to other places, it really my imagination.” broadens my horizons and enables me JIAN Q. CHINA to have different experiences. I can see Across the USA and Germany, people are concerned different sceneries, try different food, meet about schools moving away from play as a form of different people or even learn a “If you do something different, you exploratory learning and discovery for children. People new language, yet somehow it’s all might discover new traits and talents of share a genuine fear that too many parameters are really playful.” your own.” being put in place to guide and instruct play, diluting YUN Q. CHINA WOLFGANG B. GERMANY the potential to explore and discover. There is a perception that specific expectations and targets are “I can also dive into another world when being set for children from a very young age, which I dress up as a medieval man; I walk in full distracts from their opportunities to explore armour and imagine how I shoot my dinner through play. with a bow and arrow, it’s very playful.” BRIDGET R. GERMANY
40 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 41 The world we live AT WORK, EMPLOYEES HAVE A SET ROLE AND CLEAR in isn’t typically set OBJECTIVES; AT HOME, PARENTS OFTEN IMPOSE SET ROUTINES INTO THE up to encourage and HOUSEHOLD TO HELP CREATE AN EASIER AND inspire people to be MORE EFFICIENT LIFE. different and unique; While the real world is filled with limitations and barriers, a more playful world can and as a result, break down those barriers. people often neglect In doing so, play can give people permission to express a different their creativity. version of themselves, as well as a platform to be creative. "For me, you don’t have to be an artist to feel playful or expressive; you just have to feel comfortable with who you are.” MARY P. US
42 Why Do We Play? Why Do We Play? 43 Play to Express manifests itself in two ways: When people are express themselves through play, they’re typically either experimenting by trying new or different versions of themselves, or they’re using their creativity as an outlet to build or create something. 1 EXPERIMENTING People tell us that through play they 2 CREATING Play is a tool that allows people to access can have fun testing different and their creativity. From activities that require often more extreme versions of their a more creative mode of thinking, (eg., personality, style and identity. While the painting or acting), to activities that enable experimental process may be playful people to tap into their imagination, (eg., and fun, it often indirectly allows people actively dreaming). to evolve and formulate themselves as they grow and develop, helping them Creative play can also be a small and subtle become more comfortable in their own manifestation of self-expression that adds skin. an element of play to the everyday. (eg., decorating a locker at school or buying a The boundaries of experimentation vary colourful or quirky phone case). from individual to individual. “My 27-year-old daughter likes to “I miss being creative and I am dress up with her friends and go to anime CULTURAL NUANCES trying to find new ways to be playful conventions. I also like to dress up for and expressive now I am a mommy… Halloween and make my costumes myself. Interesting cultural nuances emerged: I find music and dancing work!” It’s dressing up but it’s creative, playful and DOROTHY A. US personal.’’ VICTORIA H. US “I feel like I can express myself through music. I like singing with my “I like playing basketball to express friends in KTV. Singing allows me to myself. I feel like I can be the person I want to be (my dream as a child was to be In Germany, there is a trend towards Live Action In China, playful self-expression is generally fully express myself and be who I am; a professional basketball player). When I Role Play (LARP) as a form of playful experimentation. manifested in ‘smaller’ moments of non-conformity. different songs represent different am on the basketball court, I play with an LARP involves dressing up and immersing into a These playful moments are often stimulated by a emotions.” alternative version of myself.” real-life fantasy world where people can play a king desire to act outside the typical group norm. HAIYAN L. CHINA PARK Z. CHINA or a knight, among other roles. It allows people to experiment with different sides of their personality in "In real life, I could not walk through a playful and protective environment. the city and just go straight, no one “A nice pillow or blanket placed would really make space and as soon somewhere can be playful. A certain level as I kicked someone there would be of playfulness can be found in furniture and trouble. In the LARP [immersive play], decoration. It’s through those little things that I reflect myself every day.” however, I was able to push people MARIANNE C. GERMANY to the side, stalk them, and everyone saw it as a game and responded accordingly." CHRISTIAN H. GERMANY
44 How Do We Play Together? How Do We Play Together? 45 Play allows children to develop their creativity, nurture both their physical and emotional well-being and explore the world through mirroring adult behaviour. But it is not just children who benefit from play. In fact some of the most beneficial play is when children and adults play together, whereby they connect and strengthen intergenerational relationships and learn from each other. “When caregivers and children play together, they’re actually making emotional connections. They are learning about each other. They are learning both about who they are as well as about the other person and they are exploring together. At the same time, they are learning how to observe things together and how to take risks together.’” YESIM KUNTER, PLAY FUTUROLOGIST
46 How Do We Play Together? How Do We Play Together? 47 Whilst every culture and family has their own play rituals and traditions. We have identified six common forms of adult-child interplay.
48 How Do We Play Together? How Do We Play Together? 49 'Free-Style’ Play ‘Build-It’ Play Children and adults play together This type of play teaches adults FREE-STYLE PLAY The child simply follows their This type of play nurtures a child's BUILD-IT PLAY by using objects and toys to create and children how to think more IS UNDIRECTED own play urges. Adults immerse confidence and decision-making. IS CONSTRUCTIVE something new, thinking creatively about how best to build it. Together creatively about problem-solving together and is primarily motivated themselves in the world the child It also allows adults to regress by PLAY. IT IS FREE, has created, providing no experiencing the world through a PLAY. they experiment, explore and by ‘play to express’. SPONTANEOUS AND direction or rules so as to not child’s eyes, freeing up new ideas celebrate their accomplishment. UNSTRUCTURED. inhibit creativity. Most of all, and shaking up normative thinking. they enjoy being silly together. This play form is primarily motivated by ‘play to explore’. Examples: Examples: Build a sandcastle, creating a fort in the Fantasy role play living room, building with Lego or Jenga "Child and adult interplay is “Kids are constantly “Lego or other building at its best when they both engaging with imaginative blocks are a nice forget what they’re doing play where they create a experience, creating and they’re completely lost world and ask you to join in. something together. We do in the game. And the game (Eg., playing pretend rescue this at least once a week takes over reality and the heroes, pretend school, at some point, not always game becomes reality. pretend doctor & patient). together, though. Someone They’re lost in play and These are fun because starts, then someone else time disappears." kids say really unexpected picks it up and at some ROY LANGMAID, things you did not realize point there is the final PSYCHOLOGIST they picked up on and you result.” just go along with it.” ARIANNE C. US LISA W, US
50 How Do We Play Together? How Do We Play Together? 51 'Mirror-Me' Play ‘Muddy-Boots’ Play Children and adults play together This type of play allows both MIRROR-ME PLAY Children mirror adult behaviour This type of play helps children MUDDY-BOOTS in physical or sporting activities, children and adults to use up IS IMITATION PLAY in a playful way by helping them out with adult tasks and turning develop social skills and helps adults to de-stress, turning PLAY IS PHYSICAL typically outside, and spend quality time together. They let-go, run energy, release endorphins and feel happier. This form of play is these into a game. Children often a frustrating chore into a PLAY. around and free themselves of primarily motivated by ‘play to come up with imaginative ways lighthearted, satisfying activity. physical and social constraints. explore’. of completing the task that adults This form of play is primarily hadn’t thought of. motivated by ‘play to connect’. Examples: Examples: Playfully helping with chores, Throw and Catch, Hide and Seek baking or cooking together “I really enjoy cooking “We played handball together with my child. I together. We love physical like teaching her to make activity. For fun and to various kinds of food. And compete against others. I she seems happy when we love playing football with cook together. We learn and our boys or together with play around with different our dog in the garden. ways to cook. We really These activities feel good. enjoy the process, during We move, we have fun which we usually have good and enjoy the play. It lifts communication.” the mood and elevates the ZU H. CHINA communalities between us.” YUKI A. GERMANY
52 How Do We Play Together? How Do We Play Together? 53 ‘Out-of-the-Box’ Play ‘Formal’ Play Out-of-the-box play is artistic play, This type of play promotes a more Formal play is typically less This type of play brings families OUT-OF-THE-BOX but not necessarily with a creative creative mode of thinking, allowing FORMAL PLAY IS spontaneous and more structured together and is a fun way to help PLAY IS ARTISTIC output. Through arts and crafts, children and adults release their adults and children alike to tap into their imagination and a world STRATEGIC PLAY. than the other types of adult/ child interplay outlined. It is adults and children to focus, relax and solve problems creatively. PLAY, BUT NOT inner creativity and express a beyond rules and obligation. focussed, yet enjoyable, and allows This form of play is typically NECESSARILY more creative, open side of their everyone playing to find respite motivated by ‘play to repair’ and WITH A CREATIVE personality. In turn, they gain pride This form of play is primarily and distraction from everyday life. ‘play for comfort’. and joy from the creative process. motivated by ‘play to express’. Children and adults either play with OUTPUT. or against each other to solve a specific challenge. Examples: Examples: Colouring, dancing Chess, board games “We’ve been very playful “Play with my child feels when we created Easter shared when we are both decorations for Easter. laughing and getting We had a lot of fun excited such as in a game experimenting with colours of Jenja when we are and materials. We laughed working together to win and a lot and felt very close.” especially when all of the WALTRAUD J. GERMANY blocks fall over.” VICTORIA H. US
54 What Are The Enablers & Barriers of Play? What Are The Enablers & Barriers of Play? 55 In our research, we’ve found that play is unanimously seen to be a power for good. A world without play is viewed as world not worth living in...
56 What Are The Enablers & Barriers of Play? What Are The Enablers & Barriers of Play? 57 ...HOWEVER, there are many things that stop people from playing and that provide unwanted barriers to play. • Stress and responsibilities at work are commonly cited as barriers to play as well as rigid daily routines that enforce certain roles. • Many see play as an activity (for children), as opposed to a mind-set that can be employed to bring joy to everyday activities. • Play is seen as a luxury – a 'nice to have' moment when all other serious activities have been taken care of, partly due to the difficulty in quantifying the 'return on investment' when it comes to play. • Modern day life is quick to steer people The external environment away from play. Adults feel that it is can often provide that socially unacceptable to embrace a trigger point, specifically playful mind-set and are often concerned environments that felt very that modern day education discourages different from the norm. children from playing to learn and develop through play, a fear that was supported by People highlight the impact some of the ‘experts’ we spoke to: of playful designs, décor and structures within a space as well as A special occasion or activity A range of internal and “I have a wonderful natural changes in the environment. can often become an enabler intense emotions can also memory of visiting "We sit in a military system nowadays. of play. trigger play. my Mom in the From a young age, kids are taught in a nursing home and directive manner. They’re increasingly being “I went to a Japanese restaurant People tell us that the excitement The people in our online community playing bingo at told to confirm and to think in a certain recently that made me feel produced around special occasions, talk about play as an opportunity Thanksgiving. The way.’’ playful. I like their simple but as well as the people participating in to jump from a negative mindset to staff made bingo ROY LANGMAID, PSYCHOLOGIST elegant design which made those moments help them move into a more positive one. (eg., play as special on that day. me feel relaxed. Also, their a playful mindset. a reliever of stress or a distraction When we had bingo waitress is so friendly and caring, from boredom). instead of hollering "As adults, we get very much scared of their service is great. I had an BINGO we had to say making mistakes. Failure is frowned up and, enjoyable experience.” “The time that made me feel GOBBLE GOBBLE. as a result, we forget how to play, we’re CHA C. CHINA playful was when I attended a “No one is able to do work The laughter was scared of taking risks, of asking too many concert last month. It was a rock continuously without stopping. For wonderful.” questions and we often close the door on n roll concert. I sang out loud, and me, to make my everyday tasks VICTORIA A. US our own curiosity.’’ “One year, after a long dry, hot danced with the music. more playful, I would take breaks YESIM KUNTER, PLAY FUTUROLOGIST spell, it began to rain about 11 PM I had so much fun and felt relaxed during the day to refresh my at night. I woke the girls and we as I forgot about my pressures mind, and make me feel that my But it’s not all doom and gloom. In our went out and played in the rain. during that moment.” day would not be so boring.” research, we’ve also heard about several The neighbours even joined us!" SHU L. CHINA TOM T. CHINA enablers of play, used across cultures. MARTHA L. US
58 What Are The Enablers & Barriers of Play? What Are The Enablers & Barriers of Play? 59 For parents, we heard that the behaviour of their children is often a trigger for play. People tell us that bored or badly behaved children can be tiresome and frustrating and that parents often encourage play to change the atmosphere. “I don’t need to think of anything when I am with them, and I don’t need to pretend to be someone else like I do when I am with my colleagues /clients. I love being with children, they make me forget about my daily pressures and I can fully enjoy the time.” SHUSNHUO C. CHINA “The most playful moments I've had with children have definitely been when (as an adult) I entered fully into their imaginative world, or when as a child, another adult entered into mine.” JILL M. US For a lot of people, childhood memories and a sense of nostalgia triggers a playful moment. This can, for instance, be expressed through childhood games being re-purposed for modern-day families and spontaneous and unexpected moments of nostalgia that spark “I also joke around with my friends on Facebook People also tell us that the presence fits of laughter. posts. I use sarcasm, puns and word play, of other people can trigger play. emoji's, and stickers. A few people do not like my Friends, family, colleagues and even “The best game is to find all the letters of the alphabet from road signs. When you humour, but most of them like my humour. strangers encourage a playful state of mind are on a trip as a family you are in the best I have a whole group of friends who talk together through their engagement and interactions as well as their personality. In contrast, mood and anticipating the fun ahead. I have so many great memories of playing as every day on FB. We try to outdo each other with people also talk about how they trigger play in a social context, driven by a desire to a kid and now when we get in the car, we always play!” funny remarks.” build relationships and connect to others. ELKE S. GERMANY GRAYSON T. US
60 What Are The Enablers & Barriers of Play? What Are The Enablers & Barriers of Play? 61 Uncertain situations or difficult choices may trigger a playful approach. People tell us that they used play as a way to experiment and navigate the new and different without the perceived, and often real, consequences that a more serious approach entails. “Today I was forced to make a present basket for one of my colleagues and since it was from work, it was also obligatory! But I approached it playfully and decided to create 'a little wonder’'! I played with colours and decorations and made it really fun.’’ NICOLE L. GERMANY A chore or unpleasant task can also be a trigger for play. People tell us that they look to turn routine daily tasks into games, to distract themselves. By doing this, the task transforms from ‘completion’, to ‘enjoyment’. “To make everyday task more enjoyable, I sometimes promise myself a reward. For example, I take an ice-cream out of the freezer while I'm cleaning the kitchen. Then I hurry so the ice-cream doesn't melt!’’ NANCY M. US Finally, a more contemporary and less spontaneous trigger for play is a positive life outlook or attitude. "I actually deal with everything with positive thought!!!! Then life is much easier to cope with! I challenge myself again and again, to be spontaneous rather than live a life dictated by a fixed ritual." JENNIFER H. GERMANY
62 What Are People's Play "Hacks" What Are People's Play "Hacks" 63 We define a play hack as a conscious physical or emotional action that makes a moment, conversation or chore more playful. In our research, people told us that they often looked to purposely inject play into their lives through a variety of play hacks.
64 What Are People's Play "Hacks" What Are People's Play "Hacks" 65 We heard that some play hacks involve the introduction of physical objects. For instance, a fun accessory on their desks at work, or post-its on walls at home. “For long car trips, instead of hearing, 'Are we there yet?' five minutes out of the driveway, I would start each of the kids with a roll of quarters. Each time they complained in any way, I would take a quarter from their roll. When we reached our destination, they would get whatever money was left in the roll.’’ MARION D. GERMANY But a play hack can also involve removing a physical or virtual object. “I make sure that "I make sure that at certain times across at certain times the day, I ban technology from the house. That frees up the time and space for the kids to across the day, I ban actually play together and with us" ANGIE O. US technology from the house. That frees up Translating a task or chore into a the time and space for game is also a common play hack the kids to actually play With a little imagination, the least-fun chores together and with us" can be turned into games and playful challenges. ALLAN D. US “I think I like to make cleaning into a game of sort. My husband and I share the duties of cleaning the house now that we are both retired and we like to see who can get their portion done first, so it's like a race. I also like to set a timer and accomplish so much in a 10-minute segment just to test myself.’’ BETH T. US Finally, some people told us how they participated in role play, as a hack to inject play into their everyday lives. “In real life, I couldn’t walk through the city and just walk in a straight line, no one would really make space and as soon as I kicked someone there would be trouble. In LARP however, I was able to push people to the side, stalk them and everyone saw it as a game and responded accordingly.’’ KLAUS G. GERMANY
66 How Is Play Evolving How Is Play Evolving 67 People across cultures don’t believe that the motivations driving them to play will change or adapt in the future. The five play needs identified will likely stay the same in the future. However, while the innate human needs driving people to play won’t change, people believe that where and how we play will change considerably in the next 10 years.
68 How Is Play Evolving How Is Play Evolving 69 offer new and exciting spaces and predicted to drastically shorten the dimensions for play. Technology average working day, the reality will also free up more time in the has been quite different. future, removing daily chores and potentially opening up more leisure Across cultures, people highlighted time to fill with play. 7 trends that they believe will influence how they and society However, while more permission will be playing in the future, with and technological advancements a specific forecasting lens on the may encourage more play in the next 10 years: future, a combination of factors could restrict how we play. When play becomes better recognised Back To Retro and defined, there is a risk that As technology continues to it will also become formalised advance at a rapid pace, people and structured. The people in our will continue to rebel by turning to online community are concerned and celebrating nostalgic games HOW WILL WE BE "As society progresses, automation means there’s going to be no that rules typically follow structure, and too much guidance around from their childhood. PLAYING IN THE FUTURE? reason for us to move around other than to play. As time goes on, I think there’s going to be more and how people should play and where people should play risk damaging the spontaneous and unobligated From old board games to the Game Boy, there is a desire to keep play simple. more and more things cropping nature of play. The experts we’ve spoken to have recognised mental and physical “As a society, we play to be ready up all over the place that are identified a set of play enablers health benefits. For example, for the future. When you look back encouraging us to play." Despite continual time-saving "What’s happening with that would encourage more play science has already proven that at Egyptian times, they played to DANNY BENT, PLAY innovations that provide people technology is actually scary! Yes, in people’s lives in the future. laughter can dramatically reduce understand how to fight, because ENTREPRENEUR with the tools to open up more it will completely change the way To start with, as the benefits of stress levels and a recent study by there were wars. So to understand leisure time across their lives, we play in the future but I think play become more tangible and the VU University of Amsterdam how we’ll be playing in the future people worry that an increasingly people are starting to rebel. They measured, society will encourage found that playful workplaces result requires us to think about what we Secondly, technology will individualistic culture will continue don’t want it. Play is simple and playing and adults as well as in better communication levels are preparing for. For example, how drive new forms of play in to drive the sentiment that ‘time is pure and we’ll see a big drive children will have more permission between co-workers. can play help to prepare us for AI?” the future. money’ and ‘every second counts’ back to the games we used to to play. In the future, playing could YESIM KUNTER, PLAY leaving people with less time love from years ago, the retro become as important as a trip to FUTUROLOGIST For example, advancements in VR to play. For example, while the games will become mainstream the spa or a run in the park, with technology and wearable tech invention of the email in 1972 was again." HEIKO G. GERMANY
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