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.
Freedom to Experiment
The player’s motivations are entirely intrinsic and personal. The process is open-ended.
Freedom to Fail
Losing is part of the process.
Freedom to Try on Different Identities
Players aren’t necessarily limited by their bodies or surrounding physical context.
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.
Useful rules for everything from setting up improv exercises to doing rapid prototyping of new ideas and products.