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International Day of Play: What Is It & Why It’s Important

Happy International Day of Play! Here at Legacy Games, enjoying our time, appreciating play, and having fun are just some of the many of the reasons we do what we do. Play is serious work and helps kids and adults with cognitive, social, and emotional health.

This June 11th, we celebrated the United Nations’ International Day of Play.


Now, before you scoff and dismiss this new holiday, claiming you’re too old to partake—don’t! Play might be exactly what you’re missing out on. It’s crucial to all ages, and it doesn’t need to have a stigmatized age limit.

So… what is play? According to Dr. Smith and Dr. Pellegrini from the Encyclopedia of Early Childhood Development, play is “an activity done for its own sake, characterized by means rather than by ends,… flexibility…, and a positive affect”. Basically, it’s an enjoyable thing you do for yourself without external limitations, in the pursuit of fun.

Play is mostly encouraged in adolescence, serving as a break from core learning through early childhood years. You may argue that academic classes might be more important than recess… But brushing it off as insignificant couldn’t be more wrong! It’s not a relief from learning; it’s another approach to learning problem-solving, creativity, emotional regulation, stress reduction, and more!

These results of play don’t just stop being important as you grow up. In fact, a 2011 study from Proyer R et al. called The Virtuousness of Adult Playfulness: The Relation of Playfulness with Strengths of Character found that participants who exhibited more playful behaviors, like being creative or having fun, had more desirable characteristics, boosting their overall well-being.

In today’s world, play is more important than ever, because no matter how old you are or where you are, play helps mitigate stress. Since the pandemic, there’s been a 25% increase of anxiety and depression according to the World Health Organization. Yikes!

Luckily, studies show that play helps cope with stress! One study, The Playful Advantage: How Playfulness Enhances Coping with Stress, from Cale D. Magnuson and Lynn A Barnett in 2013 focused on young adults’ stress levels, their playfulness, and coping styles. The more playful participants reported having lower stress levels than the less playful ones, and used healthier, adaptive coping strategies than the negative and avoidant strategies of their counterparts.


So, take part in the first annual International Day of Play… you might feel better for it! And don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start. Play a hidden object game to test your mind, sit around the table with a group of friends and a deck of cards, or even dance around your room! If you’re feeling stressed, unhappy, or need time to recharge, we highly encourage allowing yourself to take the time to play.

Allow yourself to have fun. It’s not silly. Even if it is… science implies that’s better for you anyway!

Happy playing!


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