The critical role of play has a long history in Western civilization. Way back in the 4th century BC, Aristotle wrote extensively on the importance of leisure. The ancient Greek word for leisure is schole, from which we get “school.” At least for Aristotle, leisure was supposed to be time to think about higher things, gain insight, engage in relaxed contemplation and consider the meaning of life. Work was to satisfy the lower goods of the appetites and leisure for the satisfaction of the higher goods of community, spirit and mind.
Today, of course, we are much more likely to associate leisure with the satisfaction of so-called lower goods. Perhaps that’s why we end up recreating work environments in our games. If play is being eclipsed by technology, all we may be left with is the strange drudgery of playbour. All told, we need to rethink the work-play balance as it teeters back and forth in our technological society.