Playful by Design

Description of Resource:

To cut through today’s anxious confusion about digital play, we took an unusual approach, grounding our work in the nature of children’s play and the value of free play in childhood. By reviewing research through history and across cultures, we identified eight prototypical qualities of free or child-led play.

Through consultation with children, parents and professionals working with children, we identified four further qualities. Together, these 12 qualities of play provide a language for what ‘good’ looks like for children’s free play in a digital world. With children and experts, we evaluated options for transposing the qualities of play into digital contexts, finding that the digital environment falls short on some essential qualities – intrinsic motivation, safety, risk-taking and voluntary play.

Building on their insights regarding features that enhance or hinder their play we created our Playful by Design Tool. Centred on seven principles, this includes a range of resources to provoke reflection, discussion and fresh ideas. As Jessie Johnson of the Design Council commented, “What a fantastic resource. We’ve come across a lot of these resources. This one is exceptional! It’s been carefully curated in terms of the tool’s design process.”

How can people get involved or contribute to your initiative?

For all our work on play, including the main international literature reviews, national survey of children, child participation work, and toolkit co-developed with designers visit

Organization Involved

The Digital Futures Commission

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