As a father of two small children, ages three and six, I witness their world of play on a daily basis. I have been intrigued with how two children can play together. As an adult, watching them play, you might think that they both are sharing the same imagination together, creating a world to temporarily exist in. But I’m not so certain that this is what is happening when two children play.

When adults play, such as cosplay, they tend to have semi-defined worlds that they are creating. The fluidity of their play is more rigid… with spoken or unspoken rules. They understand what the symbols represent, and what their costumes are imitating.

Yet when children play, their worlds are more fluid. They tend to take play more seriously than adults. Child’s play often involves an “adoption of alternative roles or personas,” as Pearce describes. But one thing I have noticed is that while two children may be imagining a world together, what is happening in their minds are two different things. My girls might imagine that they’re running a restaurant, but one of them might mysteriously switch from being a human to being a puppy… and it’s perfectly acceptable to both children.

I’m curious if child’s play differs from adult play in that child’s play more resembles a dream world, where the boundaries, environment around them, and the context of their play is extremely fluid. As adults, we experience this when we sleep; one moment we’re dreaming of being on a sail boat, and the next moment we’re walking in a desert. Child’s play seems to resemble this level of fluidity.

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