Let the Games Begin!

Welcome to Seize the Play!

Let’s dive right in: welcome to my new project! In general, this blog will be a platform for me to chronicle my ongoing explorations into the concept of ‘play.’ I have several exciting projects brewing that I’m excited to share here soon, but first – every blog needs an intro, right?

I’ve committed myself to actually creating and maintaining this for several reasons, which I’ll briefly describe below. So why blog? Why play? Who am I? Well…

Reason #1: I’m going back to school, and I need practice.

It’s been 3 years since I wrote my last academic paper and finished my undergrad education at Vassar College, but now I’m setting sail on a new academic sea. I’ll begin my MA in Civic Media: Arts and Practice this September, and grad school will kick my ass if I’m not mentally prepared to crank out coherent thoughts onto a page. If nothing else, producing a bit of original content with regularity will help my transition back into academia.

To anyone else who’s been removed from structured learning for awhile – especially for the first time in their lives post-schooling – I highly recommend pushing yourself to get back into the habit of reading regularly! I’ve hiked my diet up to about a book per week on average so far (up from maybe three a year previously.) It’s been really incredible to feel like my brain is reawakening and hungering for more.

Me studying in college

My readings have mainly consisted of philosophy, math, and history (in addition to the inescapable tide of political news, which is like watching a car crash in slow motion on a global scale.) My favorite project as of late has been slowly digesting The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained and consequently amassing a growing To Read list of philosophers through the ages. I also make sure to stay current with Everday Feminism, which I highly recommend to anyone who cares about being a decent human being.

While prepping my brain for the upcoming immersion is one goal, there’s more!

Reason #2: I am a creature crafted by Play.

Play is a broad term, but I know that it’s been one of the central tenets of my life however you cut it. I’ve lived and breathed play since I was a wee one. I grew up surrounded by computer games like Mario Teaches Typing, Warcraft I, and SimCity. Toddler Justin had access to all my siblings’ NES/SNES games, Magic cards, and My Little Ponies. My siblings and I were incredibly playful and imaginative together, our household constantly turning into a vast world of make-believe, magic, and complex political intrigue in our toys’ society.

By the end of elementary school I had become deeply immersed in the world of competitive chess, chasing state and national titles along with my school team (including helping our school win first place in the national championship.) Other formative experiences from that era included playing soccer (Team Scythers), studying piano, collecting Magic: the Gathering since Ice Age, competing and winning in Pokémon TCG tournaments, building a Diablo II trading empire, and growing a fondness for playing Kobold wizards in D&D 2.0.

Definitely the coolest I ever was in school.

I never slowed down from there. I could ramble on for ages here about my adventures since then – from circus performance, chess, cards, MMORPGS, game design, music, movie challenges and more – but I’ll save all that for later posts. For now, suffice it to say that I’ve been at play my whole life.

Although I’d wager that my exposure to play has been relatively strong and sustained, I also believe it has shaped my whole generation. Personally, socially, and culturally, I believe that play *ahem* plays an important, yet often unexamined and under-appreciated, role in all our lives.

Reason #3: I want to learn.

I’ve been going through a lot of personal growth this past year. If I was to boil down the takeaway lessons to one nugget, it’s this: we should never stop learning, and should always strive to find new and better understandings of the world around us. It’s been helpful for me to accept that I’m still young and inexperienced in a whole lot of ways. Realizing that I’m young now though, means also means it’s more important than ever that I act on that feeling now. I want to dive in and embrace the fact that I’ve got a far way to go to achieving any of my lofty dreams.

I’m committing to following my passions, wherever they lead. It hit me, while I was applying for school, that basically every one of my passions orbit around this central core of Play – which brings me here. I want to devour the literature, talk to the experts, and learn everything I can about play’s impact on our lives. I don’t care where the path will take me for now; maybe I’ll write a book, become a teacher, design games, who knows? What does matter is that I step up and begin.

One thing I do know is that I want to share my explorations and projects with the world! I’m excited to chronicle my academic journey through the coming year, since I’ll assuredly be learning all sorts of exciting things and would love to share my experiences.

So, if you appreciate what I’m setting out to do here, please consider doing both of these things:

  1. (The obvious) Support the blog! Please share your comments, questions or wild ideas with me, and shoot this a Like/Share/Retweet/#@hashfilter. My twitter is Pianoblook.
  2. (The more important) Identify something that you’re passionate about but might be holding yourself back from in some way…and go do it! Big changes start with small steps, so I challenge you to commit to doing just *one* extra action per day towards that dream. And please let me know what that dream is too, because I’d love to support it as well!

I think that sums it up. Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more updates! 

Stay playful,


Comments: 2

  1. Grahamcarious says:

    I’d love to see a reading list! Anything that catches your interest and keeps you coming back to it as you explore and cultivate your passion for Play would be great (as well as a sentence explaining that value you found in that reading for context)

    Love, hugs, and fist bumps

  2. Alex says:

    Great first post to what I’m sure will be a great blog, Justin!

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