The Ludic Spirit Players

Cards The Ludic Spirit Players

I appreciate a well-structured typology, but only if I find it useful. So, it was a bit of a battle to justify yet another one to myself. But I managed, and so I present the Ludic Spirit Players!

Based largely on observation of my own kids over the last 16 years, as well as other work in the field of play by those such as Bernard Suits and Bob Hughes, these “types” are specific to the way I am forming this Ludic Spirit stuff and Play – not Games or Gamification, so it is not an all-encompassing list of play types or types of player! Read More ...

What Is The Opposite of Play?

Play or not 1 1 What Is The Opposite of Play

Play is a fundamental human need that brings joy, creativity, and learning to our lives. Play can also help us cope with stress, improve our mental health, and enhance our social skills. But what happens when we don’t play enough? What is the opposite of play, and how does it affect us?

Some might think that the opposite of play is work, but that’s not necessarily true. Work can be playful, engaging, and meaningful if it aligns with our values, interests, and strengths. Work can also provide us with a sense of purpose, achievement, and belonging. However, work can also be boring, stressful, and unfulfilling if it doesn’t match our needs, preferences, and goals. Work can also take over our lives and leave us with little time or energy for play. Read More ...

The 8 Pillars of Playful Design

8 pillars of playful design banner The 8 Pillars of Playful Design

I’ve messed around with formalising a way to introduce play into experiences in the past, but this is the first time I have tried to plot out the key features of playful experiences in a way that becomes replicable in some way.

First, it is really important to understand what I mean by Play and Playful!


Play is free form and unlike a game does not need to have a point or a goal to it. It exists within a set of rules created by the person or people playing and is born in the imagination.  Often it is a way of exploring the boundaries and extremes of something, in search of new and novel experiences.  It is undertaken for its own sake often for fun and joy. To quote myself (!!) Read More ...

Mischief Theatre and the Contract of Play

TT Mischief Theatre and the Contract of Play

The last year or so has been pants to say the least. Personally it has taken a huge toll on my already dubious at times mental health! However, there has been one shining light since the later stages of 2020 – Mischief Movie Night In from Mischief Theatre.

Mischief Theatre is a group of very talented actors who are incredible improvisation performers. In the Movie Night In shows they take ideas from the internet and audience (Zoom and live when available) and create an improvised one hour movie. The story, characters, direction and even the music is all made up as the go along. I’ll be honest, I have never laughed as much in my life as I have at some of these shows!

As I watched more and more of the live shows, I realised something that had never occured to me. They are playing! Whilst there are loose rules around plot, they are just doing what comes naturally, creating dynamically changing meta rules as they create new characters and new narrative strands.

They all know why they are there and they all feel safe to try new ideas, even if they go horribly wrong. To facilitate that, they all trust each other and leave their egos at the door, knowing that whilst it is all in fun – mistakes will be mercilessly used to generate laughs! Again though, they all understand that – it is part of lusory attitude, it’s part of the contract of play they unconsciously sign as they enter the theatre.

Now there is a new phrase to throw in.

The Contract of Play

This is the crux of what I learned from them, a simple set of unwritten rules that they all seem to adhere to in order to perform the way they do – something I think we need to bring into all gamification and actually – all work in general!

Leave your ego at the door

  • There is no room for ego in day to day working life. We all need to work together to create the best outcomes – especially as we move more towards blended approaches to office and home working.

Be Trustworthy

  • For play to work, you must trust those around you – to be able to do that, you yourself must be trustworthy.

Be Respectful

  • It is all meant to feel safe and fun for everyone. Don’t make it personal and respect those around you.
  • Read More ...

    Why “undo” is critical to ludic design

    Undo 1614000681 Why 8220 undo 8221 is critical to ludic design

    Ludic, or playful design, involves designing products or experiences through the lens of play. How do you make people feel safe to explore, encourage experimentation and even add some fun?

    A while back I introduced my Play Framework, so you can find out more there, but essentially it’s all about creating an environment that focuses on Trust, Safety, Autonomy, Dynamic Goals and Lusory Attitude (that is you approach the experience with a playful attitude).

    So where does the undo function in a bit of software like Word come into this, how is that helping with ludic design? Feelin safe is all about not fearing failure. If something goes wrong, you need to feel that it is possible to recover. If you fall over, you should know you can get up and try again – see where this is going?

    The undo feature does exactly this. If you make a mistake in Word, just undo it. Got the function wrong in Excel? Undo it. Messed up your image in Photoshop? Undo, undo, undo, undo!!!

    Being able to undo your last action, or actions means that you get to feel safe to explore and to experiment as much as you like. Not being scared of making mistakes can really help to get the creative juices!

    So when you are designing a solution, see how you can include a way to take back the last actions a user has made, make them feel safe and secure that failure is not a bad thing!