7-2 | Deep Fun and the Theater of Games


Deep Fun and the Theater of Games
An Interview with Bernie DeKoven


Bernie DeKoven is both a play theorist and a play practitioner. He is the author of The Well-Played Game (reissued in 2013 by MIT Press) as well as Junkyard Sports, Power Meetings, and Connected Executives and of the compact disc Recess for the Soul, an assemblage of monologues about playful meditation. A Playful Path, his most recent work, is a collection of essays from his popular blog deepFUN. In 2014 he teamed with the improv organization ComedySportz Indianapolis to stage his interactive show Play’s the Thing. DeKoven developed the interplay curriculum for Philadelphia’s public schools, and he has devised electronic games for toy and games manufacturers such as Ideal Toy Company, Children’s Television Workshop, Mattel Inc., and CBS software. This earned him an Ifil-Raynolds Award from the North American Simulation and Gaming Association. In 1971 DeKoven founded The Games Preserve, a retreat center in Eastern Pennsylvania dedicated to the exploration of games and play. In this interview, DeKoven talks about the virtues of playful play and discusses the roots of playfulness, the power of shared imagination, the joys of performing, the difference between schooling and learning, the perils of play deprivation, and the gentle, comic, restorative mischief of noncompetitive games. Key words: game design; improvisation; playful play, teaching games; The Games Preserve