According to Dr. Stuart Brown, there are eight play personalities. Much like the Character Codes, no one is a perfect example of one type. We are a mix, usually with one or two dominant styles and bits and pieces of others. Recognizing what your style is can help you achieve greater self-awareness and greater play in your life.
The joker is the most basic and extreme player. A joker’s play revolves around some kind of nonsense. People who enjoy practical jokes, silly noises and generally being goofy are jokers. My raspberries game with my dog is a kind of joker play.
These are the movers. Kinesthetes are not necessarily athletes. They are the people who are happiest using their bodies; dancing, swimming, walking, yoga, kayaking. Kinesthetes may play games but competition is not the focus, it’s only the platform for their favorite play. I am not a kinesthetic player, something about falling over my own feet.
We all started out life as explorers. Some of us never lose our enthusiasm for it. Exploring can be physical – going new places. Or it can be emotional – searching for new feelings; perhaps through music, movement, or flirtation. Exploration can be mental – researching new subjects, discovering new experiences from the comfort of your recliner (I fall firmly in this category – the mental explorer).
If games and keeping score are your thing, this may be your primary play style. Particularly if you love competing to be number 1. Competitors stand out in social groups, where the fun comes from being the top person in the group, or in business where money and perks are the way to keep score.
Here is where you find the born organizers. Directors love planning and executing scenes and events. At their best, they are the party givers, vacation planners, and the center of the social world. At their worst, they’re manipulators.
The thrill of play for the collector is to have and hold the most, the best, the most interesting collection of objects or experiences. Anything and everything is fair game. Collecting can be a solitary activity, or it can be the focus of social connection with people with similar obsessions. Jay Leno is a collector. His cars, collecting and working on them is how he plays.
If your joy is in making things, this is your style. Activities from painting, pottery, and wood working to knitting, gardening, cooking and sewing are play for the artist/creator. Artist/creators may show their work to the world, even selling it. Or never show anyone what they make. The point is to make something, or to make something work. Decorating a room, restoring an antique, making and cutting out clothes for paper dolls – all play for the artist/creator. When I put down my book (mental explorer), this is where I go – into artist/creator mode.
Imagination is the key to play for the storyteller. Here we find the novelists, playwrights, and cartoonists. We also find those whose greatest joy is reading those novels, watching those movies, who become a part of the story and experience it from the perspective of the characters. Performers are storytellers, creating imaginary worlds through dance, acting, lectures, even magic tricks. Storytellers can bring play to almost any activity because their realm is the imagination. They don’t even have to share the story with others.
As the author of the book “The Happiness Project” Gretchen Ruben says: “You can choose what you do, but you can’t choose what you like to do.” I have friends who ski. They love it and their enthusiasm and the fun they have on ski trips makes me want to join them. Only one problem, turns out I hate skiing. Not crazy about snow either. Now, I can go along, try to ski and be a drag on the slopes, perhaps even spoiling their play. Alternately I can stay home, or recognizing I have a different play style – go along with the understanding that they will find me in the lodge happily curled up by the fire with a book and an Irish Coffee when they return from the ski runs, ready to party and laugh and hear about all of their adventures.
So, what do you think is your dominant play style(s) and why do you think so? Tell me in the comments. I already told you mine – artist/creator and mental explorer.