Welcome to Playtime!

learn to play 🕹 play to learn

You'll notice that it's no longer Manic Monday. From now on, it's playtime! What led to this change, you ask? For most of my adult life, monday has always had manic energy associated with it. The beginning of the week brings a fresh set of challenges, tasks, and goals for which I've never prepared.

One way to manage this frantic pace is to plan better. Review your week past and prepare for the week ahead. David Allen calls the weekly review the “Master Key to GTD” - the one habit to capture open loops, manage commitments, and maintain a “mind like water." If you want to learn how to manage your week better, try Tiago's Weekly Review methodology.

Forget Planning, Let’s Play

This letter isn't about how to plan your week better. This is about making your week feel less like work and more like play. That's why Manic Monday is now Playtime! The connotations of play are limited to fun and frivolity. It's an activity encouraged in children and discouraged amongst adults. If you're on the dark side of 30, you don't want to play with your career, your relationships, or your life. You'd much rather 'work' at making things better, whatever it is. But if you look closely you'll realize this change didn't just happen post 30. It's been happening right from school.

While school may have been fun, it was not intended by the system. You went to school to study, to learn, to educate yourself, so you could secure an admission in a college, so you could secure a well-paying job. How much of that would you consider play? You might say sport was still fun, but that stops being fun, the moment you start keeping score. When the obsession to annihilate the competition becomes greater than the desire to play the game and have fun. This spirit of competition is encouraged and honed so you can use it to chase your goals as an adult and push the competition out of the way, as you climb the career ladder.

It’s NOT Kill or Get Killed

If this is indeed the case, why are you still 'working' hard to get into college and through college? A small percentage of humans make it through college, leave alone the Ivy Leagues, and set themselves apart as men and women of caliber. Very few are truly skilled in any trade, even of their own choice. The education system may take the blame for this and there are attempts to correct or salvage it completely. Conor White-Sullivan wants to build a world knowledge graph so kids will never have to go to school. I agree because schools and colleges are the least effective means of educating oneself. Just like a limb atrophied due to disuse, we’ve lost our ability to learn, because we’re accustomed to having knowledge fed to us, instead of having to go out and hunt for it.

Look at animals. Every animal grows up and learns the skill necessary to survive - fight or flight. Whether predator or prey, animals learn these skills only through play. They don't have a school for lions, monkeys, or anteaters. No premier learning institutes. No specialized curriculum. Animals observe and then experiment with their own brethren i.e. peers. A single impetus provided by the adult animal offers the young ones enough to spend days playing. Even specialized skills like the beaver building a dam or a weaver bird building a nest are not the result of a 4-year engineering program.

Games People Play

Picasso took a lifetime, but how can we as adults channel the spirit of play, that animals and young children inherently and effortlessly have? Let's look at two approaches:

Game-Based Learning

Game-Based Learning starts with a game and then molds the curriculum to fit into it. It is a concoction of games and education where the two elements are easily visible on their own. The three main ideas are – failure, repetition, and accomplishment of goals. Start with zero knowledge, and gain the necessary skills as you advance. A well-planned game can be challenging to excel, while still being easy to win at the same time.

Gamification

Gamification is the use of game mechanics in a learning environment to achieve the desired behavior. In a gamified environment, leaderboards, incentives, badges, and other activities motivate performance. It can be as easy as adding a progress bar or points system and as complex as creating a community leaderboard. This scoring system can encourage increased learning fidelity and progression.

The core difference is that gamification adds gaming elements to everyday activities, whereas game-based learning is the art of learning while playing games.

All Work and No Play

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. My challenge to you is to play through the week ahead and let me know how you enjoyed the experience. I don't really care what approach you use or if you come up with something uniquely your own. My suggestion to get started is to inject mischief into your life. Prank people around and that will kickstart the momentum you need. Just so you don’t hurt anyone while playing, here are some rules to remember.

If you wanna read more, here’s my blog, but if you have feedback or questions, DMs open. Just when I was going to publish this, I hopped on a call with Tim Coil. He mentioned, he loves seeing my art pop up everywhere, so I whipped this ‘play’ illustration up. This one is for you, my friend.