THIS is why my version of “gamification” is so important.
Not making room for play in modern adult life is a strategic disadvantage. Exploration and exploitation are no longer distinct. They are continually co-evolving as the world quickly unfolds around us.
Dealing With a Larger Terrain
Today, culture is more complex, information is more abundant, and our collective environment covers a greater terrain of reality.
Play is how we map out this terrain. Traditionally, it was enough to simply spend our childhood and some early parts of our youth having our fun, without following the usual rules, without being too constrained by duty and routine, to make sense of everything.
This is no longer the case. Our environments are no longer static. They’re dynamic in a way that means that if you don’t keep up, you’re essentially not living in the same social and cognitive reality as those around you.
While in the past exploration was a distinct phase from exploitation, today, they have merged. You can no longer get away with spending the first few decades of your life playing and then dedicating the last few to work. Play and work have to occupy the same range.
To many of us, the idea of play in this way is so foreign that even if all of this makes sense, the question remains: What does play look like when you are, say, 30 or 40 or 50? And the answer is that it looks like a space of time, simply left to be dictated by curiosity beyond what you do out of habit?—?that could mean anything from taking an improv class to simply reading more.
The pebbles and the shells Newton picked up gave us the elementary laws of nature that we have since built our understanding of reality on. They led us to uncover the knowledge in front of us so that we could better master our surrounding environment.
In the 21st-century, playfulness won’t just remain a memory of childhood. It will be the foundation that we use to construct and validate the truths of our ever-changing reality.