Why play at work? For fun and learning!

by Scott Crabtree

Do you ever play at work? Should you?

If you are a regular reader of this blog or participated in a Happy Brain Science workshop, you know that I ground virtually everything I say in science. You also know that was a game designer for much of my professional career, and maybe you’ve heard me mention that I’m currently working on a serious game that teaches people the science of happiness and engagement at work.

I’m a big believer in the power of play.

While I normally would turn to science to explain why–and will be doing so in the future–I am going to take a more playful approach to this post about play and just speak from my own experience.

Gaming Cash Flow

When I was still working at Intel I took a class called Business Strategy Simulation. It was essentially a board game where each team was making strategic choices that affected their business. I learned so much that day about the importance of cash flow, as my team ran low on cash and needed to capitalize on key opportunities.

Experiencing that problem first hand, even in a simulation, made me feel the issue. It was more powerful than hearing about someone elses business and their cash flow problem, or abstract concepts related to cash flow.

And this is where science backs up my experience: We learn things better when they are emotionally salient.

Learning by Doing – and Feeling

Play adds emotion to learning. It gives us a safe, fun place to fail – and to succeed. A game provides us with clear rules, and lots of immediate feedback.

At the core, that is why I’m so thrilled to be working on a game that teaches people the science of happiness at work in a way that enables them to act on and feel the impact of the strategies.

If you are excited to try it out, let me know, either by leaving a comment or by sending me a quick note through my contact form. I’m heading for early Alpha play-testing soon, and would love to have some folks give it a try.

(Photo by VFS Digital Design on Flickr.)