Playful Anywhere
Designing playful, creative places, spaces and memorable experiences

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What were the games you used to love playing when you were growing up?

What were the games you used to love playing when you were growing up?

We love the way people respond to this question. It’s one of our favourite questions to ask parents, grandparents and passers-by when we’re out in our roving 20ft Shipping container Playbox01.

Before long we’re learning about two ball, whip and top, curby/kerball/kerbie, elastics and cats cradle. We quickly get onto topics like freedom to roam, car-free streets, danger, risk and what it’s like to be growing up now: ‘ ooooh it’s all just screens…’ and ‘health and safety gone mad’.

And yet….right in front of us are reminders that young people enjoy being out in the fresh air, climbing trees, running around playing tag. Life isn’t all about watching the tv, playing games or hanging about in hoodies waiting to pounce. At Playful Anywhere we’re always meeting young people who would love the freedom to roam, without a phone…

So what’s the answer? Can we make our environment more playable, for the roamers and the dreamers? Can we remind people what’s possible with their surroundings and a bit of inspiration?

We’ve long been (playfully) pondering the notion of how to make not just the physical Playbox be more playable when we are not there, but also the spaces we touch down in. How can we connect to people’s playful souls even if we are not there to open the doors of the playbox?

If only we could prompt people, as they encounter a space, to reconsider the playful potential of that place. To be connected to memories of people who are no longer physically playing there, to the echoes of play that still remain. Old games played by new players, and new games played by people who have never heard of flossing, fortnite or fidget spinners…

Just imagine…

If parks, streets, publics places became playfully interactive.

If people online could connect to places in the great outdoors, where they can physically go, explore and learn.

If our environment was enhanced with physical and digital memories of play, open to all to engage with.

With support from Creative England we have been conducting research and exploring ways to make these dreams a reality. We’re going to be in Leeds City Centre Wednesday 27th February filming people, young and old, as they recreate games they used to play. If you ‘re about we’d love it if you could join us. 10.30am -12.30pm in Park Square and 2pm to 4pm at The Tetley. We’ll be following this up with visits to community centres, and working with partners where English is not always people’s first language

The next phase is to experiment with temporary Play Plaques - a bit like your heritage Blue Plaques - which will link the video of games played in specific locations to play prompts. We are keen to make this as accessible as possible. Inspired by the Hello Lamppost Playable City Project (2015), we will be exploring the best approach for playful place making. Do share your ideas as to how we create physical markers which invite the passer by to pause, potentially play, and then to find extra depth and stories online.

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