Play is the Way

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The MAIM Class of 2014 shares their individual experiences of innovation, in the lead up to their Degree Show, Exploiting Chaos: Innovation in the Making.
The Prototypers fearlessly harness the power trial and error to learn and discover. Marie James engaged local communities in an on-site gaming experience to find out how playfulness can be used to push creativity in organizations.

To create means to deal with the new and the unknown. But what makes people engage in creativity? I was curious whether there was a fresh way to proliferate the dormant creativity in people and saw the notion of play as an accessible and fun way for people to unleash their creative thinking – and for business organisations to exploit this powerful asset in the innovation process.


As part of my MAIM Major Project, I have prototyped and launched The Pink Pony, my own social enterprise that uses play to set free the creative capabilities of communities and business organizations.


In collaboration with Federica and Mariana from CSM MA Narrative environments, The Pink Pony has designed and launched an immersive on site game for the visitors of the Hackney City Farm in East London, with the purpose to encourage more creative visits of the location and forge more meaningful, personal connections with this green environment at the heart of London.


During the two days of the game, I observed how people engaged in play, and how it triggered their imagination and creativity, how it infused them with delight and confidence – and encouraged them to think differently. The game was also a great way to foster cohesiveness amongst the members of the Farm community.


By building my own game helped me discover which aspects of play in particular stimulate people to be more engaged and motivated in their pursuit of new ideas. Not only have my experiences have taught me much about the design of playful experiences, but I was also able to relate my insights on play to its potential application in a wider innovation context.



Playing releases divergent and creative thinking, which is very important during the ideation phase of the innovation process, when teams look for new ideas and new concepts to develop. Playing fosters supportive, trustful and respectful collaborations amongst the participants. Playing makes people joyful and motivates them for achievement.


Bruce Nussbaum suggests that within the innovation process of organizations, play can be framed and ordered in “magic circles” – playful experiences that take place within the organization but outside of the work routines, and where team members can play and build things together to generate new ideas.


Creativity is still one of the most sought after assets of any organisation in today’s world. Providing time, space and opportunity for your staff to engage in playful activities will not just on motivation and commitment, but will also lead to a culture of creativity – Play is the Way.


When was the last time you played at work?


The Pink Pony works with individuals, communities and business organizations to build a better world through creative thinking. To learn more about the power of play – and where Marie’s Pink Pony is galloping next, visit and join us at the MA Innovation Management upcoming Degree Show, Exploiting Chaos: Innovation in the Making, from the 18-22 June.