After all the online learning – time to play!

With the uncertainty that we currently face, it’s imperative that we find joy where we can. Play is always a great solution to trying situations. As we hunker down for the foreseeable future and see this out, what are some activities we can enjoy together that isn’t just binging content?  


Have you ever wanted an endless amount of LEGO? (part of BrickLink) is a powerful and up-to-date LEGO CAD program available for free. Available on MAC or PC, the program allows you to draft online and share out creations and instructions w/ your friends. They can even build or mod the models at home if they have loose LEGO around.  


Break out the card and board games! Chances are there are some dusty gems waiting close at hand. After sanitizing them pieces (because who knows when that happened last and well… duh), rediscover some classics. Want to extend the play experience? Have your family members create new rules. Do they break the game? Is it more balanced? Fun? This is a great opportunity to explore basic game design principles. A classic example of this is w/ UNO. What would happen if you created a “Draw 16” card? Or an all powerful “end game” card?


Tell stories! Sketch out storyboards and make characters from what you have available. It worked for Toy Story 4! There are plenty of resources for digital storytelling as well.These include Minecraft, ALICE 3, TWINE, Scratch and even our cell phones for video recording! Start a podcast – we’re certainly living in extraordinary times! These stories can be shared with friends and loved ones without leaving the house.


If you’re going to binge video games, find a couch-co-op experience. If you’re streaming media, can you write up new chapters or episodes for the characters? How would they react if they were put in a situation like we are now?  


While we face this challenge together, it’s important to remember that we are indeed together!  The fun and surprise of play can bring smiles even in worrisome times – and those smiles are critically important right now!


John Balash was instrumental in Digital Dragon’s launch in 2013 as its first Curriculum Director and is now back in the fold as a consultant on all the latest and greatest in tech education.This is John’s latest contribution to a monthly blog series we’ve launched, Tech News from the Frontier. John is the Director of Educational Engagement at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center. John has worked on educationally focused initiatives with clients ranging from D.A.R.P.A. to Disney. Working from both sides of the desk, you can find John in classrooms and conferences around the world exploring new uses for technologies in learning environments.