My name is Mathias, and I’m here to talk about an idea that is not fully formed in my head, but revolves around the notion of the ”playful human being” merged with ”global citizenship”.
I won’t say much about myself in this talk, but I’d love to hook up – on Twitter or right here at the conference.
It’s too big, I know. It can’t be answered. In fact, I think it’s a mistake to look for one answer, one solution. We need to keep experimenting, that’s all we can do.
As an important note, I consider libraries absolutely central in this effort along with formal education and other initiatives.
”he world faces global challenges, which require global solutions. These interconnected global challenges call for far-reaching changes in how we think and act for the dignity of fellow human beings””
I’m really inspired by this. It just feels even more pressing these days, but what can, in general, be more important than improving the conditions for more people to create the life they want?
I came into this field thinking games had a huge potential impact on the way people learn. I was very optimistic just 7-8 years ago, I even decided to become self-employed & try to build a career on that belief.
…but, sadly, games are not the ”silver bullets” some people (me included) have been hoping. Games are not shortcuts to better learning or, as other would have you believe, changing the world.
If we simply use them as tools, little will change.
Like in this picture, games often make people turn to the screen and forget what happens around the screen. What are people actually doing? With the game? With each other?
That’s what’s interesting. Like a person I admire (Miguel Sicart) says: don’t make games, make people play.
Around 2012, I started thinking a lot about these things, and I started considering what to do.
I wanted to create a space, where people could explore not just games, not just play, but the notion of playfulness. I wanted many different people to come, and I wanted a space, that was in itself playful. Not just talks, not just workshops, not just an expo, but a playful atmosphere and strangers meeting in play.
With the festival and the more recently founded NGO, we assume that being playful is important in education, in our jobs, in culture, and in our lives in general.
We care less about games and play than we do about the way humans are humans with each other.
That’s the core of it.
What happens when people’s attitude towards the world is a playful one? What happens when you cultivate communities around playfulness?
…but why ”playfulness”, many people ask.
Why should we care about ”play”?
Why challenge the widespread notion that play is for children? That it’s the antithesis of serious business?
That’s my hypothesis, at least.
Based on experience, research, conversations, a lot of playing and a lot of staring into thin air, thinking about it, I’m as convinced as ever.
It’s not about having fun, or escapism or easy solutions. It’s about the very, very hard task of being human.
First: playfulness is not something with a beginning and an end.
It’s also not limited to children, and it’s not merely training for life.
It’s a part of a life. An incredibly important part of being human.
Play and being playful is a lot of things, and nobody has been able to define it in a satisfying manner.
As Brian Sutton Smith wrote: ”when it comes to making theoretical statements about what play is, we fall into silliness”
That’s part of the allure of playfulness.
Play opens the world. Play challenges the world we think we know, allows us to see it in another light.
Play is questions.
In a more specific manner, play is often linked to innovation and creativity. Basically, we can’t come up with new approaches to ”saving the world” with playing with ideas.
Being playful is engaging in an oscilating movement, back and forth. Being playful is accepting paradoxes and accepting both order and disorder.
Playfulness can inspire us to not simply accept status quo.
It can support the idea that every single one of us can take over (part of) the world.
I’m very interested in the subversiveness of play. I want to go out and make the world crack.
You have 15 seconds to contemplate this.
Games are great, games are a part of our culture and I definitely think they should be made available by libraries. I also love the playground surrounding this building, and I absolutely hope more libraries would create physical spaces for play. We shouldn’t forget our bodies!
…but that’s not what it’s about or where you should focus your effort.
My argument would be, that libraries become better equipped to staying as important as ever if they’re adopt playful approaches and attitudes.
If you agree that ”being playful” is an ideal, how do we get there? How do libraries, as part of their core effort, help people become more people and – consequently – better equipped to be in this chaotic world?
Pew. We made it. Time to breathe.
Hopefully we’ll have a chance to talk during the rest of the conference. Or play?
A World of Playfulness
A World of Playfulness
My guiding question has always been:
How do we help people to become
empowered citizens, able to act &
influence the world?
“The world faces
which require global
For years, games & learning was my
primary approach to this.
…in a way, I came away disappointed.
Games tend to shift focus away
from what it’s all about:
That’s why I founded the
CounterPlay Festival & NGO
We build on the claim that
playfulness is important everywhere
& for all people!