Scientists have only just begun to explore the natural history of play, but it already seems clear that it’s not just a puzzling way kids kill time. Play, Burghardt writes, “may lie at the core of who we are and how we came to be.
From “Games Animals Play” by Carl Zimmer
Well, why shouldn’t they? The real question is: Why does the existence of action carried out for the sheer pleasure of acting, the exertion of powers for the sheer pleasure of exerting them, strike us as mysterious? What does it tell us about ourselves that we instinctively assume that it is?
From “What’s The Point if We Can’t Have Fun” by David Graeber
So maybe carnival and ecstatic rituals serve no rational purpose and have no single sociological “function.” They are just something that people do, and, judging from Neolithic rock art depicting circle and line dances, they are something that people have done for thousands of years. The best category for such undertakings may be play, or exertion for the sheer pleasure of it. If that’s the case, then we have to ask why it has been so difficult for observers, especially perhaps white bourgeois Europeans, to recognize play as a time-honored category of experience.
From “A Thing or Two about a Thing or Two, a.k.a. Science” by Barbara Ehrenreich
Free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional and cognitive development. It makes us better adjusted, smarter and less stressed
In this article, the author synthesizes research from several disciplines to shed light on play’s central role in healthy development. Gordon builds on research in attachment theory that correlates secure attachment in infancy with adult well-being to demonstrate how playfulness might be a lifelong outcome of secure attachment and a primary factor in well-being. She discusses infants enacting the two primary attachment behaviors, attachment and exploration, as protosocial and exploratory play, then shows how these form a foundation for lifelong play and development. She reviews several metaphors for world views that arise from different attachment styles and endure throughout life in ways she claims either enhance or inhibit playfulness. She explores the notion that adults can earn secure attachment through attuned play and restore what she sees as their innate playfulness and well-being.
by Gwen Gordon
In a wide-ranging essay that reviews the major theories of plays and relates them to significant notions of the self, the author addresses the question of why we play. He does so to argue that play is a biologically driven project of self-understanding and self-realization, one that humans—although they also share the experience with other creatures—have developed most fully as a part of their psychological and social life.
by Thomas S. Hendricks