Why We Play!
For this week's edition of "But Why Wednesday", we're going to talk a little about why a game of handball, tag, blind man's bluff or the occasional simulated zombie apocalypse is not so unusual at Stage 6.
Wait, did you just say "simulated zombie apocalypse"? That I did. Not that uncommon in a Movement & Mobility class. Why? Well, because from an 'exercise' point of view, we're combining self defence, running, jumping, climbing and agility into the workout. But even better, from a social perspective we're developing teamwork, problem solving, strategy and co-operation. Playing around allows people to simulate skills for real world situations in controlled and safe environments.
Anywhere you go in the world, people play games: from children through to adults. All cultures have versions of wrestling and hitting games to demonstrate combative prowess and dominance; throwing and dodging games to demonstrate accuracy and agility; running and sprinting games to show speed and stamina; climbing, lifting and carrying games to show endurance and strength. Think about the kinds of games you used to play when you were a young'n: tag, hide and seek, wrestling, rough housing and tug o' war, just to name a few. We tend to think about games as something fun and light hearted. That’s why we say “It’s just a game”, but play is part of our DNA. We are hard wired to want to play and make things into games. Not only us as humans, but many other animals have playful instincts. Generally speaking, the more highly functioning animals are the most playful.
Games and play have also had a massive role in human history. Every modern sport we have can be traced back to games played by our ancient ancestors. Historically, the reason play was seen as important enough to spend energy on, (even in dire circumstances), was because it was human training. It helped people to develop the skills that they needed in a controlled, social and fun environment. It helped them to understand things about themselves and others, such as strengths and weaknesses, and learn how they and others would behave in emergency or stressful situations. It was a safe and sustainable way of getting practice at being a competent and confident human. Not only that but because it was fun, it helped them to form social bonds and make the community stronger - physically, mentally and emotionally.
When we play, the reduced consequences allow us to feel safe enough to try out new things - play encourages creativity. And play can easily be scaled in order to alter intensity. It evolves with you. As your competency and confidence grows, naturally you'll make the games more challenging to keep things interesting. When we play, we have to be creative, mindful, adaptable and courageous.
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand, I'm off to update my LinkedIn profile... See you next Wednesday!