The Power of Play Today

Below are my notes from the closing keynote speech at GLLS 2008:

Jon-Paul Dyson; Strong National Museum of Play; Editor American Journal of Play

Play involves passion. Because of this passion play is what we spend our time doing, or at least our free time.

The Strong Museum is working on a big exhibit coming next year on electronic games.

There are elements where games, play, and reading all come together. Jon-Paul used a Venn diagram to show the junction and also where they exist on their own. Used the quote "work is not the opposite of play, depression is the opposite

He posed the question of "what is play?"

  • Fun
  • Voluntary
  • Play is its own reward
  • Exists in a "Magic Circle"
    • Rule set
    • Emersion/absorption

6 elements of play:

  • Anticipation
  • Surprise
  • Pleasure
  • Understanding
  • Strength
  • Poise

The Benefits of Play:

  • Refreshes us, breaks from life, work, learning
  • Increases our flexibility
  • Learning
  • Makes us happier

Jon-Paul talked about how our play today is not new play. It is the same play just in a new medium. "A new way."

He gave libraries some questions to try to answer:

  • What is the role of the library?
  • Are libraries about books, about information, about play?
  • How do libraries engage these new forms of play?
    • How do libraries fall into the Venn diagram of games, play, reading

Do libraries provide play? Or do we promote the best play?

How can we do each?


Jon Paul's remarks provided a great conclusion to the symposium. Games of all kinds are enjoyable because we play them. Through play we can learn a variety of skills and concepts through the act of play. Playing builds community for both those playing and those watching. Play is worthwhile for the health of an individual and an institution. Gaming in libraries, in all its forms at GLLS, is a great way to reach out to various communities of all generations, provide services that build relationships and stimulate growth, and to come together in shared experiences of play.