Games and Play

This is the latest in a series of posts relating to the Gamification class I’m taking through Coursera.

“A game is a series of meaningful choices” – Sid Meier

What is the difference between games and play? In broad terms, play is unrestrained, spontaneous, exuberant, whereas games are formal, structured, and driven towards outcomes. In lecture 2.3, Kevin Werbach discussed the work of Roger Callois, who drew the distinction between ludus – structured activities with explicit rules, i.e. games) – and paidia – unstructured and spontaneous activities, i.e. playfulness. You can read more about Callois and his ideas here.

Students were set a short homework assignment. We were asked to think of instances where we use play and games in our everyday lives. For extra credit, we were asked to consider our everyday use of play and games in non-recreational contexts. Here are my thoughts.

Non-recreational Recreational
Inbox Zero
Kevin’s Spot the Difference on Coursera
Quizzes when studying
Collecting coffee stamps on a card
Challenges for chores – how fast can I fold this laundry
BBC Quiz of the Week’s News
The ABC Tube Station Game
Bidding and Categories Game
Non-recreational Recreational
Drumming fingers when doing another task
Trying different names for projects or ideas
Drafting sentences by trying out word orders
Mimicking voices of people
Hiding rubber insects in shoes
Noodling around with Garage Band

Shortly after finishing my homework, I was reading some work by Dan Lockton, who devised a toolkit of 101 design techniques called Design With Intent. The toolkit uses a series of ideological ‘design lenses’ through which problems can be framed, and possibly solved. It’s an interesting read for anybody who’s interested in product management or service design. One of the ‘lenses’ is the Ludic Lens – the gamelike approach.


Details of the techniques, and their applications, can be found here. I’m looking forward to exploring these further as the course unfolds.

I’ll be posting my thoughts about the course here under this tag. Use the hashtag #gamification14 on twitter to join in the conversation.

Leave a Reply