Why adults need to play

Those who play are more successful. The pleasure of the game provides surpassing and forgetting oneself. The true secret of the creative ones.

Erik Pigani

Multiplication of theme parks, invasion of video games, an explosion of game shows, explosion of life-size role-playing games, proliferation of scooters and rollerblades ... For the last ten years, the game seems to have extend its territory out of toy stores and children's rooms to enter the world so serious adults. The "civilization of leisure" - almost prophesized by the sociologist Joffre Dumazedier in the 60s ( Towards a civilization of recreation , Seuil 1972) - would it be responsible for this inevitable surge? Would the "grown-ups" sink into a soft regression towards the infantile behaviors normally reserved for youth? Witness the pounds of lollipops circulating openly in the highest offices of the Paris intelligentsia.

Recreate Reality

Well No! "The proof is that people who see their job as a game do better than those who get stuck in routine work," says Lenore Terr, professor of psychiatry. at the University of California (Scribner, 1999) This is what I discovered by conducting a study of hundreds of people about the psychological conditions that promote work. look happier, better focused and more productive than others. " Exactly the opposite of "anti-gambling" beliefs, dating from the first mermaids of factories that transformed the sons of peasants into workers. Indeed, since the advent of the industrialized world, playing does not rhyme with "profitability", but with "idleness". A state that we forgive willingly children, but not adults. So much so that in 1899 the sociologist Thorstein Veblen wrote "La Classe des loisirs", which denounces "unproductive" entertainment for society! Games of chance are - just - tolerated, the profits being unrelated to the sacrosanct notion of work.

Playing is not regressing

"People imbued with the social model of the industrial era must be sad to look serious, says the trainer in business and creativity specialist Hubert Jaoui. For them, to be an adult is not to smile, not to play, not to cry, not to feel emotions, not to mix the principle of pleasure with the principle of reality.Finally, these "rationalist-realists" are depressed. They tend to take things in a passive and fatalistic way, whereas creatives, who play and smile, know that reality is flexible.So they have fun playing with it to constantly recreate it. If we take existence too seriously, we deprive ourselves of the power to modify it. "

Would this mean that playing, far from being a regression or infantilism, is a natural function? It is even a fundamental need for mental health and creativity, continues Hubert Jaoui. If we do not play, the mind is mechanized, the emotions dry up. However, the game is a real source of energy, full, in essence, of positive emotions. That's why the como-therapy, clown-therapy and creativity courses, where we play a lot, are so successful in the United States. "

According to psychologists, play in children is very important for self-assertion, because it is a way of structuring the personality, learning of life, discovering others, developing the faculties of imagination, logic, physical address. What is difficult, but for adults? "According to Lenore Terr, the fundamental psychological element is that play allows one to forget oneself, and only self-forgetfulness, associated with pleasure - which one as you know, is the royal way of learning - allows you to surpass yourself and be creative.This is the big difference between children and grown-ups: the first, in fact, play to discover and structure themselves; , to forget oneself and to surpass oneself.


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