Why play works

Humans and animals play, but not just for fun. It is a development mechanism for the brain. The reason why play is programmed in humans and animals is to become stronger, smarter, more socially adept, and more creative & innovative, all to survive and adapt to their environment.


The process of play strengthens brain patterns and optimizes the development process.

play connects us - zerow

What is a playful intervention?

A playful intervention is any activity where playful elements are integrated, with the aim to intervene and change someone’s perspective or habit.


You many think it’s about digital or board games only. Although these are effective media for play, the below examples are also considered playful activities:

  • dancing for a cause
  • a football game
  • a restaurant guide food enthusiasts use to compare, visit and rate restaurants
  • a social gathering that tracks who is connecting the most with another person and can receive rewards for it
  • an administrative system that motivates employees to score points in using the system well.
  • A debate with two teams competitively throwing convicing pleas & arguments to win the discussion
  • Children trying to climb in a tree as high as possible
  • And so on…


Play is all around us. And it helps up to grow into something more than what we are today. It is a powerful and undervalued development mechanism.

zerow - play for a zero waste world

More than just fun

Dr. Stuart Brown, a pioneer in research on play, speaks in this TED Talk about play not just being joyful and energizing, but that it’s deeply involved with human development and intelligence. It’s also not just for kids. Play makes and keeps adults smarter and healthier.

3 billion people play digital games

99,9% of people are involved in some form of play, so basically everyone. But can people easily be motivated to spend time on a new play concept?


With technology development moving so fast, digital games on all our devices became perfect instruments for play. 3 billion people play digital games, from any age, income, gender or geography, according to this research.


A well-designed game addressing a climate change-issue can create a massive impact when people play at this scale.

How play changes behavior

Let’s use the B=MAP behavioral model developed by B.J. Fogg, to explain how play changes behaviour. It basically means all three elements must come together at the same moment for a behavior to occur: Motivation, Ability, and a Prompt. When one element is missing, the behavior does not occur.


In well-designed serious games, all three elements should be included. Games should be fun and linked to the existing intrinsic motivation of the targeted player. Through the play process, the player builds up an ability to deal with the situation. And if both the motivation and ability are high enough, a well-timed trigger (prompt) can lead the player to take the intended action.

Deepdive - the power of play

During this Connect University session – organized by the European Commission – we explain in 20 minutes why play can be the game changer to combat climate change, including some tangible play examples and cases.

Play is serious business

Play raises motivation and ability for people to change. In climate change issues where behavior is a large barrier to achieving the objective, play can make the difference.


Think about (1) recycling of plastics and electronics, (2) choosing to take the bike or train instead of the car or plane, (3) eating plant-based products, and (4) planting more trees and plants.

Why games are better than advertising for change

A person does not change their behavior instantly. It is a process that sometimes takes 18 to 254 days, according to this research. Therefore, the person needs to interact with a medium – a game, advertisement, etc. – several times over a longer timeframe. In addition, he or she will need an active interaction with the medium.


Games are ideal to keep someone motivated enough to go through a behavioral change process, in many repetitions and with an active mind.

Ready to work towards a zero waste planet through play?

Are you an organisation aiming to address climate change? And do you believe human behavior is stopping you from reaching that objective?


Then it would be great to talk. We can give a demo how issues can effectively be addressed through play and discus how to play can impact your situation.

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