Skip to content

Playfulness – Play Matters

Sicart, M. (2014). Playfulness. In Play Matters (pp. 19-34). MIT Press.

In this chapter Sicart explores how artifacts, objects, and design contexts can demonstrate playfulness. The chapter examines a number of examples where playfulness has been used to increase user engagement or enjoyment in an interface or system and explores a range of approaches to playfulness as additionality to core functions in a design. Playfulness then becomes something that a designer can imbue into an artifact, but also a way a user can approach an artifact this has also been approached as a lusory attitude.

Useful Quotes

“What we want is the attitude of play without the activity of play. We need to take the same stance towards things, the world, and others that we take during play. But we should not play; rather we should perform as expected in that (serious) context and within that (serious) object. We want play without play. We want playfulness-the capacity to use play outside the context of play.” (p. 21)

“Playfulness is a way of engaging with particular contexts and objects that is similar to play but respects the purposes and goals of that object or context.” (p. 21)

“Playfulness means taking over the world to see it through the lens of play, to make it shake and laugh and crack because we play with it. Some objects allow us to see the world through a playful lens; some contexts are more prone to playfulness than others.” (p. 24)

“Playfulness glues together an ecology of playthings, situations, behaviors, and people, extending okay toward an attitude for being in the world. Through playfulness, we see the world, and we also see how the world could be structured as play.” (p. 25)

“Through playfulness, we open the possibility of expressing who we are. Even in instrumental situations, personality is tied to performance, to the fulfillment if schedules. Playfulness frees us from the dictates if purpose through the carnivalesque inheritance of play. Through playful appropriation, we bring freedom to a context.” (p. 29)

“Playfulness can be used for disruption, revealing the seams of behaviours, technologies, or situations that we take for granted.” (p. 29)

“Playful designs are by definition ambiguous, self-effacing, and in need of a user who will complete them. Playful design breaks away from designer-centric thinking and puts into focus an object as a conversation among user, designer, context, and purpose.” (p. 31)

“Playful design focuses on [the] awareness of context as part of the design. Rather than imposing a context, playful designs open themselves to interpretations; they suggest their behaviors to their users, who are in charge of making them meaningful. Playful designs require a willing user, a comrade in play.” (p. 31)

Published inPhD