Play time! Even for adults.

We have this binary distinction in terms of the activities we can engage in, all defined by age. Play is for children; work is for adults. You can label activities such as drawing, role play, sports, aimless wandering etc as work, mindfulness, exercise or just necessary, and some how that legitimises them. But what’s wrong with playing?

Nothing. In fact, there’s a lot right with it. Science and research backs this up. Play can relieve stress, boost creativity, improve brain function, and improve our relationships with other people by fostering trust with others. Forward thinking organisations like Google and Pixar have taken an experimental approach and success has followed with productivity and profits.

The School of Play was set up earlier this year, and is dedicated to promoting happier adulthood through lifelong play. A consultant-coach, storyteller, and games maker who combines business strategies with play to bring about positive organisational change, Portia Tung creates what she calls ‘adventures’ with the aim of helping developing their ‘play intelligence.’ At trendy Drink, Shop, Do, a play with play embedded into every corner, the Night At The Curiosity Carousel offered an opportunity to get involved, relax a little, maybe have some fun – and of course justified by the potential that it might be good for us.

The carousel was essentially five tables set up with different activities including drawing, games, craft and writing (I won’t tell you exactly what – discovery is part of the fun!), and opportunity to reflect was offered. The four principles of Everyone’s invited; An option not an obligation; Opportunity to give and receive; and Game-changing were evident in the room, as strangers shared and smiled with one another. One participant noted during the session that ‘Strangers are simply friends you haven’t met yet’ and another participant simply said the session brought them ‘Joy!’ One particular ride on the carousel led the player to say:

‘I really enjoyed the evening and time went by without even noticing it. It was imaginative, creative and entertaining. The kind that makes you forget where you are or even that you are an adult. Portia has a special talent to transport you to a different place where playing is all you focus on, and all of a sudden you are free again. You can give as much as you want, but the more you give the more you get out of the experience. Thank you Portia for a great adventure!’

It’s rare that as adults caught in the race of London, or indeed life, we allow ourselves to stop, relax, and just play for no reason than the activity itself. Regardless of any scientific evidence or productivity claims, it just makes you feel good. And surely that is reason enough in itself.

Portia is also the creator of Agile Fairytales, a series of learning games for adults, and is author of choose your own adventure style The Dream Team Nightmare, which uses agile working techniques and storytelling to develop productivity in business teams. Check out the next event in November, where Portia and The School of Play invite you to a Mystery Masquerade, and keep up to date with future adventures, debates and keynotes here. Have fun!

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