Meaningful play

Meaningful play

Meaningful play is meaning, either designed or inherent, created through the execution of play. Meaningful play applies to the disciplines of psychology, education and game design.


In Rules of Play, Katie Salen and Eric Zimmerman introduce meaningful play as the goal of successful game design. They offer two definitions, one descriptive and one evaluative:

Descriptive definition: "Meaningful play in a game emerges from the relationship between player action and system outcome; it is the process by which a player takes action within the designed system of a game and the system responds to the action. The meaning of an action in a game resides in the relationship between action and outcome"

Evaluative definition: "Meaningful play is what occurs when the relationships between actions and outcomes in a game are both discernable and integrated into the larger context of the game"

See also

Meaningful Play is also the name of a conference held at Michigan State University.


  • Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals, MIT Press
  • Video Games and Interactive Media: A Glimpse at New Digital Entertainment, by Stéphane Natkin
  • Children's Play and Playgrounds, by Joe L. Frost, Barry L. Klein

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