I liked this tentative list from Peter Gray’s “Freedom to Learn” blog at Psychology Today. Writing on the Value of Play he begins with a long definition, in short:
- Play is self-chosen and self-directed;
- Play is activity in which means are more valued than ends;
- Play has structure, or rules, which are not dictated by physical necessity but emanate from the minds of the players;
- Play is imaginative, non-literal, mentally removed in some way from “real” or “serious” life; and
- Play involves an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind.
I’m stuck, saying that all web sites are massive multiplayer games, for a decade now. Plays, one would presume, is central to that. Manipulating users is key to talent scraping business models. Best if they think it’s play rather than manipulation.
Just a bit of counter point. The above list aren’t something people strive for. People strive for: appreciation, affiliation, autonomy, status, and role. Peter’s list makes play almost synonymous with a somewhat brutal kind of freedom.