Play: Three Challenges

Play is a universal human activity in all communities, cultures and periods of history. In play, cultural memories are given shape and passed down from generation to generation. However, we face many challenges in supporting play in today’s society. Playing the Archive addresses three of these problems.

Firstly, play cultures, though sometimes durable and persistent, can also be ephemeral and shift over time. Play practices, games and rhymes may be superseded and unknown to successive generations. Meanwhile, older generations may be anxious and fearful about the play of today’s children, especially in the digital realm.

Secondly, the way play is managed in planning and education can have the effect of fragmenting children’s playworlds, separating out their digital play from their physical play, although these worlds remain connected in children’s imagination and practice.

Thirdly, play is increasingly constrained in urban environments, through loss of street play, reductions in social provision, and tight adult surveillance in response to fears about child safety.

The three strands of our project each focus on one of these challenges:

Strand 1: Digitalising the Archive / Immersive Worlds

Strand 2: Memories and Practices

Strand 3: Experimental Playgrounds