Very interesting article here
about play and how it differs from work.
The author explains five defining characteristics of play. Two struck me as especially relevant to what this forum is all about:
2. Play is activity in which means are more valued than ends.
Adults can test the degree to which their work is play by asking themselves this: “If I could receive the same pay, the same prospects for future pay, the same amount of approval from other people, and the same sense of doing good for the world for not doing this job as I am receiving for doing it, would I quit?” If the person would eagerly quit, the job is not play. To the degree that the person would quit reluctantly, or not quit, the job is play. It is something that the person enjoys independently of the extrinsic rewards received for doing it.
5. Play involves an active, alert, but non-stressed frame of mind.
This point about the mental state of play is very important for understanding play’s value as a mode of learning and creative production. The alert but unstressed condition of the playful mind is precisely the condition that has been shown repeatedly, in many psychological experiments, to be ideal for creativity and the learning of new skills.
As they say on the blogs, read the whole thing.