The 4 Freedoms of Play

By 19 février 2019Plushnugggets

What’s happening when we play? Tough question, but a way to approach this topic is to take a deeper look at the 4 Freedoms of Play as described by Scot Osterweil that we recently met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In fact, the 4 Freedoms of Play represent what happens when we play, and while the freedoms are not all necessary happening at the same time, they help us understand the benefits of play.

Let’s take a closer look at them!

Freedom to fail
The freedom to fail is one of the hottest competency of the century. Failing quickly and making mistakes is a learning process that allows us to get better. When we play, the freedom to fail is a core element that lets us enter  a magic circle where the rules are different from those of the real world. It allows us to build up our own stories and suggest ideas that wouldn’t sound good or appropriate in another context. The freedom to fail leads a group to discuss frankly and suggest out of the box ideas without any fear as all the real world consequences don’t exist in the context of play. It is a great ground for experimentation.

Freedom to experiment
Having the freedom to fail leads to more experimentation. In fact, when freed from real life consequences and rules, we are more likely and enthusiast to test new things. And in a business environment, making new connections, developing a problem or building a solution are processes and outcomes that require to experiment. At Plush & Nuggets we address these challenges playfully by relying on the freedom to experiment!

Freedom to embody another identity 
Embodying another identity is the third freedom of play. Of course, it can mean embodying a superhero, a villain or a family member, but in a business setting it can also be embodying your client, another inspiring company or your colleagues. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes is a great way to take a different perspective on a topic, generate ideas and create empathy.
This sounds challenging? That’s okay, it’s time to present the freedom to effort!

Freedom to effort
And last but not least is the Freedom to effort. It is not the more intuitive freedom when we talk about play because play is usually associated with enjoyment.  However, there is no play if there is no challenge (or at least it will quickly become boring). And this is very interesting when we make people play at work because we are not doing it for “the fun”only. There are stakes which require engagement and effort.


Experimentation, failing without fear, having more empathy and taking clients perspective into account are key competencies for individuals and organizations. They’re not easy to implement and this is why play can help you facilitate these changes!