6-2 | The Elements of Play


The Elements of Play
Toward a Philosophy and a Definition of Play

Scott G. Eberle


Scholars conventionally find play difficult to define because the concept is complex and ambiguous. The author proffers a definition of play that takes into consideration its dynamic character, posits six basic elements of play (anticipation, surprise, pleasure, understanding, strength, and poise), and explores some of their emotional, physical, and intellectual dimensions. He argues for a play ethos that recognizes play is evolution based and developmentally beneficial. He insists, however, that, at its most elemental, play always promises fun. In this context, any activity that lacks these six elements, he contends, will not fully qualify as play. Key words: definition of play; elements of play; universe of play