SIMAGES 2015.2 – Webinar Recording: Pursuing Playfulness with Bernie DeKoven

Pursuing Playfulness

with Bernie De Koven

Shaman of Play

We all seek to use games and other learning activities to engage with the learners. Understanding and taking a playful approach will encourage participants to make the game (or learning) their own. Bernie will talk about the nature of playfulness based on many years of experience in pursuit of play. You will come away with a new sense of what it means to be playful and its potential for enhancing your games and for your life.

In this session you will learn

  • A new sense of what it means to be playful.
  • The value of playfulness in increasing engagement
  • How playfulness contributes to facilitation.
  • Approaches to incorporating playfulness in your designs
  • How playfulness is relevant to your personal and professional growth.How playfulness can help you capitalize on the physical presence of players.


Note: The recording does not show the text chat from the session, it is available
in the transcript below.


Pursuing Playfulness Chat Text by Topic

Discussion of the Parable

chris : cooperation vs competition
bruce honig : Shifting perspectives
Kae Novak : Soup – Survior Style
Jennifer Napier : different perspectives
bruce honig : allowing for the unexpected
SM-G900V : working together not alone
becky : changing the rules of the game
Dani Abrams : Creative group exploration
bruce honig : focusing on the goal
Linda Slack : sharing can make it more fun
Martin Dyrman Hansen : play can be competition. but competition stops when it is no longer fair
SM-G900V : getting stuff done by working together and getting input from everyone
Emil : serious things shown in a funny way
Kae Novak : they finessed the game.
Heather Hafner : collaboration brings life to everyone
becky : emil good insight about the content and playful presentation

Discussion of “There must be a good reason” Tom is not here because…

SScott Nicholson : Dave’s not here, man.
bruce honig : Working on taxes
Martin Dyrman Hansen : his dog ate his essay
Greg Koeser : Tom was abducted by Aliens (maybe coordinated by Dave?)
Kari Bothwell : Overslept
Dani Abrams : There was an ice storm last night.
Kae Novak : Zombies
Emil : Snowwwwww
bruce honig : Doesn’t know where is here
Martin Dyrman Hansen : Zombies, yes
Kari Bothwell : He doesn’t care
Greg Koeser : Tom’s alter superhero was needed at the time
Linda Slack : the weather
bernarddekoven : there’s no here there
bruce honig : Doesn’t know where is there
Martin Dyrman Hansen : Time zone confusion
Daniel : took the scenic route
Melissa Peterson: Sick child
bruce honig : Just confusion…like me
Kari Bothwell : he won the lottery
Melissa Peterson : Sick child
Janet.Stivers : his kids has a snow delay
bruce honig : He is everywhere
Martin Dyrman Hansen : his unborn daughter was born

Discussion of Playful Design and Facilitation

Martin Dyrman Hansen : Great progression in that game.
Martin Dyrman Hansen : make it easy to start
Linda Slack : what’s the teaching moment -purpose/objective?
SScott Nicholson : Allow the particiants to guide the experience.
Janet.Stivers : make it as risk free as possible – no wrong responses
Kari Bothwell : Positive attitude! Show everyone you’re having a great time!
becky : the design needs to have a plan for participants to contribute and change the experience
Melissa Peterson : Let the players determine some of the design
Dani Abrams : An in-depth debrief
becky : model the behavior
Kae Novak : I like giving some sort of role but leaving it really open
Janet.Stivers : be willing to model silliness
Kari Bothwell : provide purpose for the exercise
bruce honig : Go to there area of competency yet make it challenging….
becky : good point about a starting point like a role
Lorri Hopping : “Yes and” (open doors, don’t close them)
Martin Dyrman Hansen : add one thing at a time
becky : when you are in the design process stay playful with the design team
Kari Bothwell : Provide clear direction
bruce honig : As others said model
Linda Slack : allow them to make mistakes and laugh at themselves
Martin Dyrman Hansen : max 3 sentences before starting the game
bruce honig : Be attune to what is happening in real life
Janet.Stivers : provide lots of warm fuzzies – eye contact, smiles, anything to keep folks encouraged and engaged
bruce honig : smile
Melissa Peterson : Get people out of their seats
From bruce honig : allow for choice
From Martin Dyrman Hansen : set an example of the behaviour you wish to create
From chris : smiling in text chat 🙂
From bruce honig : expect the unexpected
From Daniel : enjoy the activity yourself
From Martin Dyrman Hansen : be willing to make mistakes yourself
From Lorri Hopping : be sensitive to personality types
From Kari Bothwell : be willing to laugh at yourself
From bruce honig : that reminds me of… honor diverse responses
From becky : great idea to have endorsed quitting
From Kari Bothwell : Love it!
From Emil : I’ve just broken my finger 😉
From Janet.Stivers : one more time!
From chris : silliness
From SScott Nicholson : Now that I will quote!  🙂
From chris : just a reference back to frog. here is the link
From chris :

Q and A chat

Lorri Hopping : interested to hear differences in playful design for small groups and large groups (like 300)
Greg Koeser : What was the quote that Scott wants to remember?
Martin Dyrman Hansen : what is most important in creating room for playfulness in public spaces?
Lorri Hopping : ah, great… choice (and love the quitting practice idea), thank you
SScott Nicholson : Greg: “As the great Bernie Dekoven says when asked why physical games are better than virtual games… how do you prefer to make love?”
Bryan: your thoughts on Viola Spolin’s theater games?
Emil : Do you have any experiences with using playfulness with high management teams?
Bryan : Thoughts on Neva Boyd and if any influence on you.
Bryan : What pulled you into play in your life?Mom? Dad? Environment?
Lorri Hopping : really helpful talk and website
Martin Dyrman Hansen : Games do also create the safety cross hierarchy.  in my experience I can start with very safe games and then increase risk and energy when the boss is present
Kari Bothwell : What do you say to those (usually in upper management) who think play and games are a waste of time?
Kae Novak : Will you be sending out a link to this recording so it can be shared?
Melissa Peterson : We will be sending out the recording for sure.
Kae Novak : THANK YOU!

Blessings Chat

bernarddekoven : may we all find ways to be more playful in our work
Greg Koeser : May we all find success in sharing fun around us
Kae Novak : may we never have to work at being playful
Martin Dyrman Hansen : may we help others be more playful
Bryan : May we have more fun and play when interacting with adults 80 and older.
Lorri Hopping : may the playful spirit be a contagion
chris : may you always find playmates in your work and your life
chris : may your work disappear into play
Janet.Stivers : may we bring playfulness to dull tasks, to transform them (I’m thinking of program accreditation stuff(
Kari Bothwell : May your playfulness and joy infect others around you
Samantha Knight : these are great
Bryan : May we bring play into every serious business conversation
chris : and the dull tasks become the basis of a new game
Martin Dyrman Hansen : may conversations be more playful
Janet.Stivers : may a sense of playfulness help us to be more spontaneous, and therefore more present and responsive to others
Bryan : May all ages start and end their day on a playful note
Greg Koeser : May we be led by “The Frog” to experience the world
Greg Koeser : May we all go to the NASAGA conference and share blessings to each other there!!!
Bryan : May more Bernie’s be born from this conversation!


chris : clap clap
Kari Bothwell : Clap clap clap!
Bryan : Thank you to infinity Bernie and Melissa!
Martin Dyrman Hansen : waving hands. thanks
Emil : thank you Bernie!
bernarddekoven : it was a delight
becky : clap clap
becky : yay
Janet.Stivers : Yes, thanks Bernie, and NASAGA for offering this opportunity
Shahnaz Kamberi : *claps*
bernarddekoven : thank you all for your honest, thoughtful contributions
chris :
Kae Novak : Thank you Bernie! and if we can’t do this F2F, this was a more than respectful substitute.

About Bernie

ifillIn 1971, Bernard De Koven completed work on a collection of over 1000 children’s games, organized according to different forms and complexities of social interaction. Called the Interplay Games Curriculum, and published by the School District of Philadelphia, it led to his founding of The Games Preserve, a retreat center for the exploration of games and play for adults in Eastern Pennsylvania. The Games Preserve served many organizations and individuals, and functioned as the East Coast branch of The New Games Foundation. In 1978, De Koven published The Well-Played Game, which was re-released by MIT Press in 2013. Since his most recent book, A Playful Path, was published the following year, more than 62,000 copies have been downloaded. During his long career, he has designed games of all kinds: board and table games, computer games, social games for small and large groups, city-wide game celebrations, theater games, games for couples, families, children and elders. But his greatest impact has been his development of a theory of fun and playfulness and how it can affect every aspect of personal and interpersonal, community and institutional health. His game, Junkyard Games, is one of the most popular games to have been published by HRDQ – . It received its debut at a NASAGA conference. Bernie is also recipient of the Ifill-Raynolds award.

De Koven continues to make his work publicly available through workshops and his two websites: and

1 thought on “SIMAGES 2015.2 – Webinar Recording: Pursuing Playfulness with Bernie DeKoven

  1. Pingback: SIMAGES 2016.2 – Get to Know Bernie DeKoven – NASAGA

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