The Phylogeny Of Play

Some time ago I reported about none other than Chris Crawford visiting Cologne Game Lab in person. We have just recently uploaded a video of one of his highly entertaining lectures. This is something you may want to check out!

Too bad you missed it, huh? But wait, there is more! The reason why we uploaded it just now is that Chris Crawford will be at Cologne Game Lab again next week! Well, technically not in person. But he will be doing a Webinar like the one back in 2010. And it’s public and free. It’s not as amazing as seeing him in person but it’s the next best thing. Go here for more details.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

3 responses to “The Phylogeny Of Play”

  1. Robin Saunders

    It’s an interesting talk, but I don’t fully agree with his conclusions about education. By the time a child is of primary school age, its basic motor development is long since complete, and its cognitive development is well underway. Of course children will still play physically after they start at school, but by that age the imaginative (cognitive) component of play is at least as important as the physical component.

    If children learn effectively through physical activity then of course it’s still a good idea to take advantage of that, but it doesn’t mean they’re incapable of classroom-based, intellectual learning. Learning to reason using diagrams and drawings – and even counting with fingers – are examples of basic skills that children can pick up from an early age, without needing to be constantly moving about and making full use of their muscles.

  2. Linda

    Hi, I found the video as you say entertaining and informative. I enjoyed reading Robins post too. thanks

  3. Chris Crawford

    I just bumbled across this and I think that Robin deserves a response. You’re absolutely correct that young children are capable of non-somatic learning at an early age; indeed, they start learning the elements of language from birth, and there’s no physical activity involved in that! My point is that the somatic component is much underutilized in our educational system. I argue that young children can learn certain concepts, such as number, scale, addition, and subtraction more easily if they experience these concepts somatically (e.g., by walking different distances) than by being presented with them abstractly.

    I further argue that the somatic component of learning never vanishes; even adults are influenced by somatic elements, although that process is more complicated, relying primarily on mirror neurons and “physical empathy”.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


follow Krystian on Twitter
follow Yu-Chung on Twitter
follow Daniel on Twitter