There's a well-known saying which first appeared in a book by James Howell published in 1659: "All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy." The message is that life should not only be about the seriousness of work and that enjoyable, recreational activities are an important part of life. It is as true now as it was three and a half centuries ago.
Humans aren't the only ones who engage in play, of course. Many animals also play extensively, mostly while growing up though some continue to do so well into adulthood. It's one of the reasons I love having cats around the house: they are given to running around, chasing things (and each other) with obvious joy and frivolity. In addition to the enjoyment they get from it, this play has a pretty serious component: it's a way to put their skills into practice and improve them. It can also be a way to build social bonds with others of their social group.
Similarly for us humans, play can be more than just enjoyment and relaxation. It can be applied to creative processes to draw out truly great results from both individuals and teams. It can let us explore ideas, social interactions and generally open doors to new experiences and modes of being. It's a safe and enjoyable way to experiment, all while helping relieve stresses and pressures that may be trickling in from the more serious efforts in our life.
Sometimes I get the sense that technology has been getting more and more unplayful and that saddens me. The industries built around computing are massive. Billions of dollars swirl around them every day, and that sort of scale certainly requires a good amount of applied rigor and seriousness to keep things moving. The sheer amount of money that can be made coupled with the increasing complexity of technology and the ever rising expectations from people who use it can lead to an overly serious, unplayful environment that produces overly serious, unplayful results.
I've noticed that even many of the most popular games available for devices like phones and tablets these days are built around obsessive, repetitive behavior wherein you collect synthetically scarce imaginary resources and vie for the approval of imaginary beings. While rewarding to certain aspects of human psychology, these games are less playful than work-like. They don't even give you much opportunity to expand a set of skills. Even our most serious of traditional games, such as chess or go, are opportunities to exercise and grow strategic thinking while bonding with other humans. If even our games are less playful, one need not apply much imagination to how opportunities for playfulness are elsewhere.
In short: without play, life becomes dull and we risk become an increasingly boring group of people. That's not the sort of experience I wish to have, nor the sort of experience I wish others to have when using the things I help make.
The activities of play, when added to the other ingredients of life, can help create a fantastic and dynamic experience. That's why there's a certain seriousness to being playful; there is even such a thing as "serious play" which is being increasingly explored by those focused on innovation and communities. There's also, of course, the completely freeing and frivolous sort of play that rounds out this picture.
Make and play. Play and make. They go together, and I'd like to not only experience this myself but help support others in finding their own moments of exuberance.