Elements of Play

Play is difficult to define because it is complex. Many scholars find that describing play is easier than defining it. To help advance discourse around a definition of play, research undertaken at The Strong suggests that six basic elements—anticipation, surprise, pleasure, understanding, strength, and poise—are present each time someone plays fully. The Strong explores these elements of play in its Field of Play exhibit, and Scott G. Eberle, the museum’s vice president for play studies, writes about them in volume 6, number 2 of The Strong’s American Journal of Play . Both the exhibit and article feature the chart below.

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Elements of Play by The Strong is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.