Why do we spend so much time playing?

I noticed on the train coming in to work that it seems like everyone is playing a game. Crossword puzzles, sudoku, whatever they have on the iphone.

And kids are always playing games, even babies. Even puppies.

Why is it that someone will struggle with a sudoku or crossword for hours and love it but delay balancing his checkbook or filing his income taxes?

I can see the evolutionary advantage of play in that it prepares us for real life success. But is that the only reason we play so much? Any other thoughts about this?

Playing (defined as doing things you “like”) is the natural state. The better question is, why do we work?

Some things are fun.

Some things are not fun.

Most of humanity prefers the former.

So that we can play.

There’s no clear cut line though. Some people ‘work’ for fun: knitting, cooking, gardening, writing, these are all jobs that some people get paid for and some do for free or even at a considerable expense.

I think the big question isn’t “Why do we play?” but “What is the difference between work and play anyway?”. What’s the difference between a job and a hobby? Or maybe, Why are some jobs also hobbies?

Peronally, I think the line is pretty clear. Hobby or not, a Job is something people need whether they like it or not. One may have to work or have a job, but not always get the choice to play.

That sounds like a bummer. Do really rich people have jobs? What if they like their jobs? Does that mean they don’t ever work and are only playing?

Are you saying that a job is only a job if you have to go to it whether you like it or not?

I know offhand a few fairly rich people that ‘work’ at charity. They volunteer time working for halfway houses, soup kitchens, boy and girl scout camps as counselors, animal shelters, community projects … all on top of donating money to various charities. Some work in the admin end of things, on boards of directors and in management positions that are unpaid. I know one lady who took a huge heap of a family house and runs a womens shelter in it. She figured she had 15 bedrooms, so why not. For security purposes, they homeschool all the kids during transition to keep the fathers from being able to find them by following them home from school.

I challenge this assumption.
I’m a huge games player (chess, poker, bridge, sudoku, roleplaying, computer games) but I also balance my account and pay my taxes.

I think many people fail to look after their financial affairs, but that they seize on any excuse not to look at the bills coming in (drugs, sport, games, sex, TV).

Yeah, but sudoku and checkbook balancing are both just fiddling with and organizing stacks of numbers in a way; I think the question is why is one a game while the other is a chore? Sure, lots of people do their own taxes, but nobody considers it fun like sudoku or crossword puzzles.

I think a lot of it has to do with the “I have to do this” factor. I’ll objectively tell you right now that I love what I do in school, as a senior electrical engineering student. But subjectively, when a project deadline or homework due date approaches, it’s work and I’m procrastinating like crazy and dreading the crunch. On the other hand, I’ve taught myself stuff outside of class for ‘fun’ and I always make a little time for it. It’s weird.

I have to agree with the idea that the reason we don’t like it is because we feel like we are being forced to do it. You know that, if you are doing your Sudoku and get frustrated, you can just put it down, no big deal. if that happens with your checkbook, you still have to fix it.

It fits really well with my computer stuff, too. When I’m fixing the computer because it won’t work properly, it’s a chore. But tinkering and trying to improve things is fun. And, I’m sure a lot of us feel that way about writing: we do it on the Dope for fun, but when we have to an assignment, it seems like work.

Some people are just lucky in that their job consists of more fun than work.