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: definition


PLAY is a tool in the quest for truth. Truth is hidden and play digs below the surface to ex- PLAY is essentially social in nature. PLAY builds group relationships.
pose it. PLAY builds trust between players. The players, for the duration of the game, exist only in
the world of the game, and in this immediacy trust is more obvious.
PLAY is always a creative experience. In play there is a creative freedom
PLAY creates a less rational state of mind where instincts and the unconscious play a great-
PLAY is both real and fantasy. er role.
Conflicts usually arise out of miscommunication and misunderstanding, and play, by encourag-
PLAY is adaptive; the rules can change to keep the game fair and to improve the desired ing better communication and trust, can resolve these.
All actions in PLAY have meaning. Actions are neither trivial nor ambiguous but are decisive
PLAY provides escape, a respite from the complexities and confusions of everyday life. By
playing, a person enters a new world, a world of the game, a world with defined rules unlike
and effective, due to the rules. the morally ambiguous real-world.
PLAY is a free activity consciously outside ordinary life. It is ‘non-serious’ yet absorbing the PLAY allows one to feel and see through and behind the political, racial, ethnic, religious,
player intensely and utterly.
and linguistic boundaries that separate us, not by eliminating them but by invoking a deeper
PLAY is an agreed upon suspension of reality. sense of commonality, one that transcends the normative order.
PLAY with its rules, restricts in order to be free. The rules (right amount) provide encourage- In everyday reality we believe that the ideology we’re being sold is the ‘truth’. Through PLAY,
ment for creativity. and its ability to reach below the surface to a deeper reality, we can explore what we ‘really’
PLAY is a means of communication, a common language through which people who other- want, and therefore achieve a more ‘real’ design outcome.
wise couldn’t communicate (due to linguistic, social, class reasons) now can.
PLAY eliminates doubt and indecision, bringing confidence to the player. Due to the equality
of players and the smaller and therefore more manageable ‘world’ of PLAY, as well as the
greater trust and communication play engenders.
Due to its rules and boundaries, PLAY offers ethical clarity, and its own rewards and punish-
With play in general, there is no requirement for there to be any outcome. For design play, on
PLAY can be a risk free simulation.
the other hand, an outcome is desired, and can be built into the rules of the game. The out-
come can be: simply to encourage greater understanding of the each stakeholder’s issues
and build trust, or can be more detailed: facilitating the creation of a brief or actual elements of
Design Play is essentially satisfying for all players because everyone feels like they are input-
ting from an equal footing. ISSUES WITH PLAY
Due to Play allowing a deeper perception of Reality, games can be designed to let us see envi- Since an integral part of Play is the escape to a new ‘ideal’ world of the game, players must
ronmental, social, climatic, economic realities and concerns. keep this in mind, so when the game is over they can translate their Play into real-world terms.
Design Play should end in a mutually satisfying draw. The trust and communication built be- In order to ensure that play is fair an independent ‘referee’ trusted by all players is required.
tween the players and stakeholders can therefore continue beyond the game.
Playing a game creates its own little world, where normative social orders are transcended,
and everyone is treated equally according to the game’s rules. Therefore design play can ad-
dress social and economic disadvantage by providing equal footing to all, and thus a voice to
those who may have previously been unheard.
: concept


: model precedents

WHERE: A research project carried out by Annelise De Jong and Evi De

Bruyne in the Netherlands

CONCEPT: Participary Design Game, promoting communication and

interaction between otherwise isolated players

MODEL: Board game, with workspaces depicted in coloured squares.

The participants play the game by locating themselves within the
squares and answering questions on cards.


DW Winnicott, Playing and Reality, Lodon: Routledge, 2005
WHERE: At CHI 2001 in Seattle Scott Berkun organised an Interactionary
game. J Huizinga, Homo Ludens: a study of the play element in culture,
Boston: Beacon Press, 1955
CONCEPT: To analyse the process of teamwork design JO Segrave, ‘Sport as Escape’, Journal of Sport and Social Issues’
vol.24 no.1, Feb 2000, pp 61-77
MODEL: Interactionary is a pseudo game show type format that allows H Sanoff, ‘Collaborative Design Process’, JAE, vol.33 no.1, Sep
4 teams to work on the same design problem, live on stage. Each team 1979, pp 18-22
works one at a time, and are given ten minutes to work through the C Green, ‘Playing Design Games’, JAE, vol.33 no.1, Sep 1979, pp
problem, while the other teams wait in a sound proof room. The goal is to 22-26
expose the dynamic intangibles of design in progress, and allow an Interactionary 2001 http://www.scottberkun.com/essays/dsports/
audience to listen in on four teams and observing how they work. i2001/
Participatory design of office spaces by game playing http://www.
GAMBIT design game http://gambit.mit.edu/updates/news/

: projectS