Wednesday
Oct152014

Playing Around, Taken Seriously: A Series

Really? It’s Been That Long?

I googled “Playing Around, Taken Seriously” and found this. I just went with it. Thank you, Arrested Development.I started this blog just over five years ago. My very first post linked to an article in the New York Times that was my first exposure to the topic of Play Studies (in fact, that article very well may be the first exposure of the topic in any form to a modern mass audience of any sort).

When I started out I wanted Note the Smile to be a place to help me work out and share the idea of playful technologies. Just a couple years later I moved on to grad school with the same goal. People tend to think that graduate students are smart. But I have learned the truth. We are dumb. We make terrible life decisions. Would I like less sleep and less money? Please and thank you.

Looking Back

Looking back, my posts have been kinda all over the place. At one point I was fairly excited about gamification technologies and then later became more suspicious of it. Certain posts tended to advocate certain kinds of playing—particularly unstructured free play and play with toys—motivated mostly by my own preference without much critical thought. Here and there I proposed or linked to ideas with little foundation or support other than “hey, neat!” I just sorta hacked my way through it all and made it up as I went along talking about anything I found compelling or interesting. In general, the more I thought about these topics and my questions the more they made my brain hurt.

Looking Ahead and Playing Around, Taken Seriously

But now after all these years I can finally say that I have real learnin’ and maybe even valuable ideas to share! In fact, I’ve come to see that Play is way more fascinating and meaningful than I ever hoped or expected.

In completing an independent study last winter on some of the same topics motivating this very blog, the professor who came along for the ride proposed, as profs are wont to do, that I work out my thoughts in writing. As that time approached, despite all my reading and thinking, I was panicked as I had almost nothing to say. And then one day, with my nose in a book, the light bulb flicked on, and all the thoughts absolutely had to come out right then. They were very insistent and nearly forced their way out whether I liked it or not. I could barely keep up for weeks on end as I struggled to assemble something coherent in written form. What I wrote ended up at fifteen pages in length but probably wants to be about a hundred.

My reading list for studying Play and working to develop the notion of Playful Technologies presently has about seventy entries in it spanning books, academic journals, the popular press, web material, and even playgrounds and pieces of architecture. I’d guess I’ve read and/or am familiar with 20% of it. So much more to go. But even with my limited exposure to all the amazing thinking on Play, I have more than enough to talk about and share.

I’m starting a new series here at Note the Smile taking the title of a talk I recently gave at Cornell’s d:Tech series here in New York City.

Playing Around, Taken Seriously will be a semi-regular series of posts that:

  • Provide an introduction to some of the foundations of Play Theory
  • Detail my own theory of Play
  • Explain just what a Playful Technology is
  • Extrapolate from this how to design and build a Playful Technology

Some of my ideas are not yet well developed. And it’s going to be a real but worthwhile challenge to write on these topics in a way that doesn’t read like a fancypants academic paper. I’m not even remotely sure how this will all work out. But let’s hope it will be a fun ride.

Saturday
Oct112014

Ingenious and Playful INAR SUT Milk & Juice Bottle Design

PINAR SUT Milk&Juice Bottle Design

This project’s main idea is to reuse the package of the product instead of it being thrown away after consumption. With a smart design, the package can be used as a toy. … In addition to encouraging children to drink milk to help their physical development, this project aims to improve their creative imagination with the product’s functionality as a toy.

Even the bottle caps are designed to be played with [follow the link above].

Saturday
Sep062014

Playing with how we think

An article I wrote, “New Widgets Let You Snap, Crackle… and Think”, was recently published by LiveScience and Yahoo News. According to the public relations office at my university, my article achieved some of the biggest media metrics in their history. Maybe we’re onto something…

Tuesday
Mar252014

Help us with a fun Playful Technology study for the Fidget Widgets research project

We are Mike Karlesky and Kacie Kinzer from the Game Innovation Lab at NYU. We are conducting a research study on the objects people fiddle with while at work and how they fiddle with them. This study is in support of a project called Fidget Widgets.

What object(s) do you play with while you work? How do you fiddle with them in your hand? What are they made of? What do you enjoy about them and how they feel? Do they have special meaning to you? When do you play with them?

Please consider submitting a video or photo and a bit of text for our study. See our Video page for help on simple options to capture video.

You can review our About page and Consent page for full details before submitting.

Go here to participate: http://fidgetwidgets.tumblr.com

Feel free to forward this post on to anyone you like. You can also retweet this if you like.

Tuesday
Dec032013

It Begins

I tend to think that play may very well be at the center of the next hundred years of development in education, health, economic development, technology, work, and quality of life. It’s my hope that we will collectively rediscover our essence as human beings — homo ludens (Man the Player). It appears I am not the only one of this mind.

“Play will be to the 21st century what work was to the industrial age — our dominant way of knowing, doing and creating value.”

—Pat Kane, The Play Ethic

Charlie O’Donnell, a Brooklyn area venture capitalist, had this to say in a very recent post The Return of Play:

If I was going to start a venture capital fund around a theme, I’d pick something a little different. Forget Enterprise, or Mobile… It wouldn’t be “networks” or any other standard classification of startup. No geographic focus.

I’d start a fund around “Play”.

What I’m most bullish about is wide open, free-form play—the act of exploring, creating, and being curious.

Scarcity + high demand = Happy VC all too willing to fund playful things and entrepreneurs ready to play.