‘Gaming: playing video games’. When I mention this, most people think of children sitting lazily on a bench, hypnotized by a screen that is the most powerful light source in the room. When I talk about ‘outdoor play’ however, images of happy children running around on the grass come to mind.
A lot of negativity surrounds gaming, and to be honest: I would rather see my children play outside in the garden than spending time behind their iPad. And to be more honest: I could use a little more playtime outdoor myself too, instead of watching my phone.
But when everyone is blaming computer games for a lot of things, I turn into defence mode. Computer games succeed in some things that playground designers, and parents, dream of. They are so much fun, you want to play again and again and again. You can play on your own level, and on the same play object, you can play various games, with new ones coming up every now and then.
What if we could take these aspects, and incorporate them in the playground outdoor?
And combine the best of both worlds: Challenge and fun from gaming, and healthy outdoor exercise and real human contact from outdoor play.
Right now, that is happening in more than 20 countries on more than 350 interactive play sets. Last week, a total of 1500 hours of play was measured. Not only children are gaming outdoor, parents are also joining this new fun way of play, as are elderly.
On schoolyards, children are learning their mathematic equations by playing a number game on the playground instead of sitting in class.
In hospitals, children forget about being ill for a while as they are trying to reach a new level in a ball throwing game, secretly doing revalidation exercises.
In elderly homes, old people do a dancing game together with their grandchildren enjoying the sun on their faces. At football clubs, players try to beat each others top scores in hitting as many targets as possible. Creative teenagers show off their latest DJ skills on an interactive DJ table in the park, while their friends hang-out and listen to the show.
In the future, new games will come up and new ways of play will emerge, that will invite mankind outdoor.
All these words however, can hardly describe the feeling of playing a game outside. As we now already spent some time behind a screen again, it is about time to go outside, and play!