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Play and Life

I wrote an article for Games for Educators (g4ed) this past January that has kind of stuck in my head this whole month. It was about play, and how we play, and the relationship between play and “real” life.

The article is here, if you’re curious.

There are four different ways to play: solo, cooperative, parallel, and competitive.

Solo play includes things like puzzles and model airplanes and that sort of thing. I would even lump reading into that category. Parallel play is when you’re playing with someone, but you’re not affecting each other. Two people on a beach building separate sand castles are engaging in parallel play. Cooperative play is when you’re playing with someone else toward a common goal (building the same sand castle, for example), and competitive play is what we’re all used to.

The g4ed article was all about playing to build skills for life. Want to be able to work in an open office environment? Well, you better be good at parallel play. Interested in being on a team? Cooperative play is the thing for you.

What’s stuck in my head, though, is the opposite: how are real lives affect our play.

I spend most of my day alone with a computer – solo play. When my kids get home, I’m more than ready for some company. However, they’re in the opposite situation. They’re coming off a bus where they’re packed in with other people. They’re ready for a little downtime. The result is we end up in a parallel play sort of situation. Often, I’ll do bills or clean while they’re working on homework. Sometimes, we’ll watch a little television.

It’s interesting, isn’t it?

Looking at my life as different types of play opens up a new way of understanding why and how I enjoy different parts of my day. What do I need right now? Do I need some hard driving competition to get my blood pumping? What about some cooperative play to feel closer to the people around me, or maybe I need to be a hermit, and retreat into solo play.

How about you? What kind of play do you need?

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Posted February 27, 2014 in Life