Play Play (Ep 1)

“Game Rules”

These days, it is inevitable that on the train, we would see people playing games on their digital devices. This got me wondering whether such gaming qualifies as “good” play when compared to say assembling Lego, a traditional game of five stones or hide-and-seek or even messing around with art-making.

Is structuredness the issue? Must “good” play be free and unstructured?

Is the flexibility that gives room for further customization and creation the value of “good” play?

Play has become quite the buzz word, especially in education, and much has been written about the value of play. In fact, just this week, I visited a school that has adopted play as a pedagogy. So, I thought I would explore this issue of play and learning in a few posts, with this being the first.

In video games, and also board and traditional games, there are some form of rules for the game to work. How important are rules to playing? Do rules hamper or facilitate “good” playing? While we tend think of good play as carefree and open, it also becomes clear that some form of rules are necessary for the play to be meaningful, especially when we play with others.

So, when we do include play in learning, it does not mean chaos. In fact, rules will be necessary to keep the learning on track. This is not the same as having an overly tight control on how the play unfolds (imagine dictating the child to make only the “right” move) but rather an understanding on how we agree to play just as we do in all forms of gaming – digital or otherwise. Yet keeping in mind that they should be rules that facilitates the playing, and not to stifle creativity and spontaneity.

There are many other things we can take from gaming into learning, and Tom Chatfield shares them in this TED Talk.

A group of educators who game has come together to share their experiences and explorations in using games to advance meaningful education – check G.A.M.E. (Games Advancing Meaningful Education) out.

All in all, is good learning, as we have always understood it, so different from good playing and gaming? In both instances, the rules of engagement, the engagement and pursuit, and the outcome and reward have to all exist and be owned by the learner-player for it to be good.

Game for some good learning?


About pauseability

An educator at large and learner at heart. Founder of Pauseability. Encouraging everyone to learn to pause, and pause to learn.
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