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Chris Crawford on Game Design by Chris Crawford

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History of Play

Play certainly started out simply enough. Early mammals learned to play as a way of polishing the complex neural circuitry that they were born with. A young colt has most of the circuitry in place to walk and to run, but getting everything coordinated with the sense of balance, the visual field, and internal neural inputs takes a certain amount of practice, which is accomplished through a form of play known as gamboling.

Jumping, dancing, darting, and running in young herbivores are immediately recognizable as play, yet they serve the deadly serious purpose of learning the fine points of maneuvering in a world full of predators.

The hunting mammals took the process even further, using play as a means of honing their hunting skills. ...

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