Enhancing Creativity – Adult Games versus Kid Games

Enhancing Creativity - Adult Games versus Kids GamesIn my blog post, “How Can Goals Enhance Creativity” I said…

“…As long as everyone in the organization believes they are playing a game which is designed to get them energized today, and it is not specifically about hitting the target, I can assure you that people will be more motivated.”

Games can be a useful tool for enhancing creativity. They make work more fun, they reduce stress, and they get people in action.


Not all games are created equally. There are adult games and kid games.

With adult games, there tend to be rigid rules, the games have an ending, and there are winners and losers.

Think about nearly every game we play: Monopoly, poker, or basketball.

They typically have a complex set of rules that all of the players need to adhere to. If you break the rules you “go to jail,” are disqualified, or get penalized.

Adult games end. The game is over when all of the other players are out of money, when the “clock” says there is not more time, or when everyone has had their turn.

And nearly every adult game has a winner and one or more losers. They are competitions.

Contrast this with kid games.

Kids play games with very loose rules, the game continues until they say it ends, and there is no concept of winner/loser.

If you watch kids play. They tend to have very few rules in their games. And if there are rules, they make them up as they go along. They improvise. Even universal rules don’t apply to kids. They can don a cape and fly through the air, defying the laws of gravity.

Rarely is a stopwatch involved when kids play. They play the game until they get tired of playing that game. And then they invent a new game. The only clocks involved with kid games are the watches on the wrists of their parents. The adults end the game when it’s dinner time or bedtime.

And there are no winners or losers. They don’t even have that concept. Yes, they might have battles with imaginary swords or super powers. And there are victims who get hurt or die in the heat of battle. But they come back reinvented as a new character. The play does not end at death.

Kids play for the sake of play and no other reason.

Adult games can limit creativity. The rules, deadlines, and pressure prevent the flow of new ideas. They create stress.

If you want to enhance creativity, passion, and productivity, I encourage you to play kid games. These timeless, unbounded, and rule-free games can create an environment of free-flowing-thinking. As mentioned in previous blog entries, studies show that 98% of 5 year olds test as highly creative, yet only 2% of adults do. We don’t lose our creativity; we learn habits which stop it from emerging.

I contend that the types of games we play reflects our level of creativity. When people are most creative, they play kid games. When they are least creative, they play adult games.

Maybe it is time to recapture our creative youth and start playing more kid games.

In future blog entries, I will discuss HOW kid games can be used to enhance creativity, productivity, and success.

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Stephen ShapiroStephen Shapiro is the author of three books, a popular innovation speaker, and is the Chief Innovation Evangelist for Innocentive, the leader in Open Innovation.

This entry was posted in Creativity, Headlines, Innovation, education. Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Enhancing Creativity – Adult Games versus Kid Games

  1. Pingback: THINKing » Creativity 2010 – Week #37

  2. Myriam Siftar says:

    Can you list or share kids games that embodies creativity? It might be tricky because the ids games that have a name would have a specific set of rules. Unless we are only referring to “pretend” games. I am curious to know what you had in mind.

  3. Ryan says:

    There are a set of simple word games you can find at http://creativitygames.net which I think fit almost perfectly into your description. I use them in my classes to great effect.

    I also agree with your idea that the fewer and more open the rules the better. I have found that it does take a while though before people get the hang of exploring, they almost ‘need’ rules so that they know what they are doing is safe.

  4. Burston says:

    Hi\Hello I am having a problem seeing your sidebar on my Vista machine.
    Just wanted you to know.

    • admin says:

      Sorry about that. You must have a really small resolution. The template is about 1000 pixels wide with the main content area being about 550 – 600 pixels wide.

      Braden Kelley
      Editor, Blogging Innovation

  5. Gutmann says:

    Such a nice article. He should receive credit for it. Thanks

  6. Spanbauer says:

    Good blog. Will come again. :-)

  7. Haraway says:

    Nice article!
    Keep posting

  8. Uhler says:

    Good post!

  9. Tatsch says:

    Perfect thought!

  10. Mulhall says:

    Great read. Hard to come across such quality information all in one place. Thanks for your effort here.

  11. Arroliga says:

    Wir sind ein Forum gegen Betrüger

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