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How to start playing without all the rules? 


Games are a very effective way to engage people together in a playful activity. Although, they are far from being the only way to play! 

After all, games are just one way to play amongst the diversity of playfulness. Even in our language, we use the word “play” for a variety of activities such as playing music, putting on a play, or using a play on words. 


How to create a moment of play? 


To create a moment of play, you will need to reproduce a sandbox-like environnement. Here is what you need to think of: 

  • A space: whether it’s online, together in the same room with different set-up options, it will be “somewhere”. Where? 
  • A context: we need a sparkle, an objective, a reason to play; especially as we grow up. We also need to have something to play with, it’s the “what” are you playing with? 
  • And people of course! You can play by yourself or with others. 
  • Tools: according to what you are trying to play with, you might need some tools to start playing. Whether it’s a computer, a pencil, a notepad or  Play Cards, choose your with what? 

You might not even need rules, which is a very important component of a game. Indeed, a game is a system with rules, an outcome to look for, and a system of feedback to give you indications about the outcome (e.g. points). In fact, games are just a structured form of play. 

➡ Right now, what we need might not be rules but practices, and rituals, which are by nature playful. Open yourself to open-ended play!

The sandbox metaphor

An example of free play: the sandbox play 


To explain this idea of free play better, think of a sandbox. Sandboxes don’t govern how you should play. Whether you dig a hole or build a castle, these are both equally great activities to do in a sandbox. There is no constraining rule, no outcome expected, and no systems of feedback imposed. It is up to you to build as you go! 


To learn more about this idea of play and start putting into practice at work, go take a look at our online class, Basics of Play at Work. Check it out, you will learn more about how to create this sandbox in the workplace to make it your playground! 

This framework of free play helps us address the role of play in the workplace in a new way. Instead of focusing on processes and rules, it allows us to focus instead on the materials and tools we provide, the designs we make, and the experiences that we share with you. And this is why we love the sandbox play!