Academic Master


The Play Essay

Play occurs in many different forms. This plays may be active, solitary, passive, assisted, independent, educational, exploratory, socialistic, or even for fun. The plays happen both indoors and outdoors, and they can be structured, messy, creative, facilitated entirely through imagination or can include a big budget. Therefore, what is important is that the young people and the children have freedom of choice on the way and when to play. For instance, toys are the objects used by children for the play, and a good toy is fun to play with. However, what is the meaning of play? It is simple to tell a play whenever we see it, but it’s difficult to express it. A lot of people have tried to illustrate a solid definition of play, and most of them have failed. In the paper, we will consider a few illustrations of the play.

The first one is Friedrich Schiller who says that “Play is the aimless expenditure of exuberant energy” (Schell, 2008, p. 27). It’s an outdated definition since it uses the term aimless which implies that play doesn’t have any goal and in reality play have a goal. The second illustration of the play is that of Barnard Gilmore who illustrates that “Play refers to those activities which are accompanied by a state of comparative pleasure, exhilaration, power, and the feeling of self-initiative. This definition certainly covers important aspects, but there are other things associated with the play like imagination, problem-solving, and also competition. Therefore the definition might be considered to be incomplete.

The other definition of the play is that of Katie S. and Eric Z. who states that “Play is free movement within a more rigid structure” (Katie & ‎Eric, 2004). This is unusual definition from a book “Rules of play” where the definition was set to be open to cover some things like the play of the car’s steering wheel etc. However, the definition is not precise since someone can come up with an instance that is non-play activity and it fits the definition, e.g., forcing a child to scrub the floor of the kitchen and the child starts enjoying. This can be strange to classify this as play. George Santayana states that “Play is whatever is done spontaneously and for its own sake.” It’s an interesting definition since some plays are spontaneous, but not all of them since other plays can be planned several months before they happen. Also, when considering the second part “done for its own sake,” it implies that we play because we like to. This is one of the essential characteristics of the play, but the activity itself cannot be categorized as play activity or work activity since some people have stayed in work for five years and they still enjoy it. What is important is the person’s attitude towards the activity. However, people work because they are obligated to do it while a person who plays, he/ she play freely. Thus, whoever must play can’t play.

In addition to the other definitions, Schell shared his definition of the play despite the fact that its imperfect like the other definitions but it contains an interesting perspective. Schell notice that play activity tries to answer some questions like “can we beat this team?” etc. therefore to seek answers to such questions that are not obligated then a person is said to be curious. But play involves willful actions and manipulation of things. Therefore, his definition of the play is that “Play is manipulation that indulges curiosity.” This definition brings some ideas that couldn’t be expected to play like playing with the colors, playing with the idea, etc. hence Schell’s definition can be considered to be useful and favorite while defining play.


Katie, S., & ‎Eric, Z. (2004). Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Schell, J. (2008). The Art of Game Design. New York: Morgan Kaufmann Publ.



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