Play is a pretty complicated word, the sort of word that causes those of us who struggle with automatic indexing no end of trouble. Dictionary.com lists 94 definitions.
The first, a dramatic composition or piece, is not really the sort of ‘play’ that I’m talking about – although it does make you wonder what an information architecture-themed drama would be like. If comics, why not plays?
I’m more interested in “exercise or activity for amusement or recreation”. Pretty broad, huh?
Game is a bit more specific – only 10 definitions – with the most useful definition being “a competitive activity involving skill, chance, or endurance on the part of two or more persons who play according to a set of rules, usually for their own amusement or for that of spectators”.
The rules distinguish ‘games’ from just any old ‘play’. Games are also considered more goal orientated. I started getting interested in this area by considering how games could help in our work environment. This goal orientation means you can make a clear case for how the games will help you professionally. What is much more complicated is justifying plain-old undirected play…