Four freedoms of play

The Playful Learning Wiki, four theoretical models of play, includes Ralph Koster's Theory of Fun for Game Design, Brian Sutton-Smith's Ambiguity of Play, something from the National Institute for Play (a.k.a. Stuart Brown) and Scot Osterweil's brilliant Four Freedoms of Play.

Scot Osterweil: The Four Freedoms of Play

Scot Osterweil (MIT Comparative Media Studies, Education Arcade Project) has observed this truth: play has no agenda. Freedom is central to the experience of play. To understand the anatomy of play, Scot has identified four components that he calls the "four freedoms of play." If these freedoms are not respected, the play experience is severely compromised or even ruined.

  1. Playing with a tireFreedom to Experiment

    The player's motivations are entirely intrinsic and personal. The process is open-ended.

  2. Freedom to Fail

    Losing is part of the process.

  3. Freedom to Try on Different Identities

    Players aren't necessarily limited by their bodies or surrounding physical context.

  4. Freedom of Effort

    As described in Peter and Iona Opie's classic ethnography of playground culture, children may scramble around in a game of tag, avoiding being caught for twenty minutes, and then suddenly stop and allow themselves to be tagged once they have reached a certain degree of effort or perhaps want to move on to another activity.


I deeply appreciate this perspective, this idea of exploring the "freedoms" of play. In many ways, it's what play is all about.

Watch his talk on YouTube



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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The true object of all human life...

"The true object of all human life is play. Earth is a task garden; heaven is a playground."



from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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Follow the fun!

I learned this:
Just For Fun is a book about when big business happens to people who care far more about creating than marketing, and who love what they do for its own sake. As such, it is not just a book about an alternative business model - the open source movement - but about an alternative affect, one that honors the joy of creative work more than the humorless pursuit of profit, and that sees fun, rather than power or money, as the proper goal of life.

And this:
Torvalds’ real genius lies not so much in his programming abilities, though those are extraordinary, but in his capacity for that thing so many of us never learn to do: have fun. Fun, Torvalds believes, is at heart very far from the frivolous thing capitalism and religion have made it out to be. Fun is, rather, the highest form of human behavior, the thing that comes after survival and community, the thing, in other words, that not only makes life worth living, but is - or ought to be - a lifestyle in itself.

from this highly reputable source.


- Bernie DeKoven, funsmith

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