If you have read anything about 21st-century play, you would be forgiven for believing that Kidults, (Adults Who Love to Play), are a new phenomenon. It’s like these play-loving adults are a tribe of humans who just stepped out of the jungle.
In truth, adults have always wanted to play. We simply stopped marketing to them. How could we have missed past adults who loved to play Canasta, Bridge and Solotaire, go Bowling, play Chess, shoot pool, throw dice and darts, play Checkers, and socialize over Backgammon? And let’s remember Monopoly, Jeopardy, and Scrabble.
And how about Badminton, Quoits, Horseshoes, Shuffleboard, and fireworks? There is also the Yo Yo, the Joy Buzzer, the Number Slider Puzzle (the Rubik’s Cube at its time – the 1880s), and so many more.
If we change our focus and see adults as always loving and wanting to play, then we get deep perspectives on what toys to create for them. Toys and games that appeal to adults tend to live long lives. Checkers has been around for 3,000 years and Chess for 1500. Now, those are evergreens. Why? Because humans like strategy games, simple looking, complex looking, and always challenging.
What does the popularity of the Rubik’s Cube and the Number Slider Puzzle teach us – that humans love to manipulate and calculate at the same time?
What do we learn from the Joy Buzzer? Nothing, nothing at all. It’s stupid.
All right, we don’t learn from everything, but we benefit by recognizing that adults have never stopped wanting to play. We just stopped seeing them.