I was honored to be one of the 15 play experts interviewed for this groundbreaking research into the definition of play and the discussion about a better future for humanity through playfulness.

Forbes, L. K. & Craven, C., (2023) “15 play experts’ vision for a more playful future”, The Journal of Play in Adulthood 5(2), 20-32. doi: https://doi.org/10.5920/jpa.1326

The article above reports the findings of an iterative, three-round Delphi study which created a communication process among a panel of 15 play experts to better understand a) play’s definition/essence, b) play’s place in society, c) the existence of the decline in play with age, d) current play advocacy efforts, and e) the overall lack of research on play in adulthood.

The Transformative Power of Play in Adulthood

For years, we’ve heard about the wonders of play for children. It’s their language, their way of connecting to the world, testing boundaries, and gearing up for a successful future. But here’s the catch – the magic of play doesn’t vanish as we grow up; it just takes on new forms and meanings.

As adults, we often sideline play, thinking it’s only for kids or something we indulge in after all our ‘serious’ work is done. But guess what? Researchers like Brown, Vaughan, and Panksepp have shown that play is a crucial part of our adult lives too. It’s hardwired into our brains, a source of joy, a stress-buster, and a spark for creativity and resilience.

A Playful Society

In this study, the other play experts and I shared a vision – a society where play is not just accepted but celebrated across all ages. They dream of a world where education and business leaders embrace playfulness, where the workplace is a canvas for creative problem-solving, and where adults have the freedom and encouragement to explore, experiment, and engage in playful activities.

A Poetic Approach to Play

The study presented its findings through a poem, an emotional and powerful medium. This poem is a tapestry of visions and dreams from play experts, including myself. It shares ideas for removing barriers to play, celebrating unique playful humanity, infusing play into education and businesses, and much more. It’s a call to action, urging us to rethink our approach to life, work, and leisure.

Imagine a world where play isn’t a luxury but a daily practice. Imagine communities bonded through play, workplaces thriving on playful energy, and adults rediscovering the joy of living. We believe this study is a playbook for a happier, more resilient, and connected society.

Bringing Play into Your Life

So, how do we start? It’s simpler than you might think:

  1. Embrace Playfulness: Start with a playful mindset. Be curious, creative, and open to new experiences.
  2. Make Time for Play: Schedule play just like you would any important appointment. Even a few minutes can make a difference.
  3. Incorporate Play at Work: Think of playful ways to approach tasks and challenges. It boosts productivity and sparks innovation.
  4. Play with Others: Strengthen connections with family, friends, and colleagues through cooperative play.

Let’s Play Our Way to a Better Tomorrow

This study and the voices of the experts remind us of something essential – play is not just a child-like, frivolous activity; it’s a fruitful way of living. It’s about embracing joy, nurturing creativity, and building a community. So, join me, the other play experts and advocates, and Playful Humans around the world to take this journey together, reimagining and reshaping our world, one playful moment at a time.

Stay Playful!