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Roddy McKenzie: What Play Means to Me


The joy of working at Game Genius is the ability to explore new ways to implement play in our lives. Mark Twain's Thomas Sawyer said, “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and . . . Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” I share these sentiments on play. Play is unbridled, instinctive, free, and natural. Play is the surplus, play is discretionary, play is the high state of being after the tough, difficult, and necessary work is completed.


For me, if play is voluntary, then work is obligatory. Work has a clear outcome, real-world consequences, hard results. Play at its core is gratuitous, similar to giving. The players get something out of playing... that's why he plays. The result is not what matters, it is secondary, the primary goal of playing is the experience.


The joy of experiencing play brings us all together. Playing, at least for a short moment, are times when we can forget our credentials, race, and class, and other social dividers. Play can be tickling a loved one, competing in a game, or a conversation among friends. It is in these unstructured, spontaneous moments of play that we indirectly learn more about ourselves and others.


Play however can be serious. If the simplest form of play is unstructured, then play that is structured is a game. Games have all sorts of rules, timing conventions, and other regulations. It is these structures that aid in learning and problem-solving. Paul Rand once said, “projects that engage the play instinct seek to bridge the gap between material and form, art and design, as well as heart, head, and hand.” At Game Genius our work is play. We do the tough tasks of creating games, designing activities, and giving time so that others can enjoy the simple experience of playing. Some of these experiences are whimsical, others are for teams to make tough decisions, some are physical and involve walking and searching different locales. No matter the form, we try to incorporate a variety of play activities so that the mind, body, and spirit can be engaged.


To me a world without a play is boring and mundane. I will explain more on the power of play in a longer form post here on the blog and impact report. Thanks for supporting our work at Game Genius and making social impact fun.