Why Play? Examining the Roles of Play in ICTD

  • Pedro Ferreira Mobile Life @ KTH
Keywords: Play, ICTD, ICT4D, capabilities, freedom, games, entertainment


The role of technology in socio-economic development is at the heart of ICTD (ICTs for development). Yet, as with much Human Centered technology research, playful inter- actions with technology are predominantly framed around their instrumental roles, such as education, rather than their intrinsic value. This obscures playful activities and under- mines play as a basic freedom. Within ICTD an apparent conflict is reinforced, opposing socio-economic goals with play, often dismissed as trivial or unaffordable. Recently a slow emergence of studies around play has led us to pro- pose a framing of it as a capability, according to Amartya Sen, recognizing and examining its instrumental, construc- tive, and constitutive roles. We discuss how play unleashes a more honest and fair approach within ICTD, but most importantly, we argue how it is essentially a basic human need, not antithetical to others. We propose ways for the recognition and legitimization of the play activity in ICTD.


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How to Cite
Ferreira, P. (2015). Why Play? Examining the Roles of Play in ICTD. Aarhus Series on Human Centered Computing, 1(1), 12. https://doi.org/10.7146/aahcc.v1i1.21264
Deconstructing Norms