For several years, I taught a Game Design course in the Multimedia department at UArts
. To give this course more intellectual heft, I would say that play is essential to humans. I went so far as to say that when humans stop playing we are either sick or near death.
Sadly, sometimes I forget my own advice.
I don't let myself play enough. I love hanging out with my kids. I love watching them play, and even went so far as to move to a new home that would allow them more space for free play.
Thankfully, though, my play history is pretty rich. Watching the above video of Stuart Brown talking about Why play is vital — no matter your age
made me very thankful that I grew up playing... a lot. Our basement and garage were filled with tools and parts. My siblings, neighborhood friends and I would spend all nice days outside playing and tinkering. We would take our bikes apart and create new bikes out of parts. Build treehouses. Build ramps. Make up a new game and play it until we tired of it and then create a new one. Whenever there was a school project that required building something, my friends would come over to find parts in our basement and use our tools to put it together.
One of the most powerful quotes from Stuart Brown's talk speaks about the importance of playing early in life in order to be a good problem solver:
Now JPL and NASA and Boeing, before they will hire a research and development problem solvers, even if they are summa cum laude from Harvard or CalTech, if they haven't fixed cars, haven't done stuff with their hands early in life, played with their hands, they can't problem-solve, as well.
So play is practical and it is very important.
Listening to this as I rode the hi-speed line
on the way home I had one of those moments where I was infinitely grateful to my parents. For all the things that all parents do wrong, sometimes parents get something so right.