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The Study of Play (April 2019): Online Research Materials

By Charles Kroncke and Ronald F. White

Online Research Materials

Like other areas of study, playtime scholarship as well as play itself has expanded to the internet, where one finds websites, subscription databases, journals (subscription and open access), and videos and films—along with, of course, the actual games themselves.

Internet videos abound and are a means to convey a message to a broad audience. On YouTube one can find videos that cover many of the topics in this essay. One of the most viewed YouTube offerings on play is Peter Gray’s The Decline of Play, in which Gray advocates more free-play time for children. TED Talks is also a rich source of information—and among its offerings is Stuart Brown’s excellent Serious Play: Play Is more than Just Fun. Keyword searches of YouTube and TED Talks bring up a wealth of other valuable video materials on play.

Many academic journals—all of them now online—are devoted to playtime research, and this essay cannot do justice to them all. One of the most significant is American Journal of Play, an interdisciplinary journal devoted to the history, culture, and science of play. Associated with The Strong: National Museum of Play, American Journal of Play offers the best concentration of articles directly focused on play. Other valuable academic journals on play include International Journal of Play—which targets “anthropologists, educationalists, folklorists, historians, linguists, philosophers, playworkers, psychologists, sociologists, therapists and zoologists”—and International Journal of Play Therapy, which will be of particular interest to mental health professionals, including psychologists and education professionals.

Finally, there are many play-related websites and apps. Most are video games aimed at children and adults for amusement, but one also finds numerous websites intended to gamify education. Among these is Funbrain, which offers free educational material for K-8 and breaks down activities by grade level. Another is PBS Kids, which offers videos and games (the latter specifying new, popular, and hard games). Teachers often recommend that students visit these sites. Distinguishing between play sites and sites about play can be difficult, but educational game sites like Funbrain and PBS Kids tend to discuss their philosophy and explain how play helps the learning process. These websites often require registration so parents can monitor their children, and some of them are fee-based.