Humans play in order to challenge destiny, to earn money, to exercise their minds, to pass the time in a pleasant way. Playing is a typical childhood activity, but we continue to engage in it throughout our lives. What kind of intelligence is involved in puzzles, videogames, crosswords, bridge, chess, and poker? We play in order to grow up but also to avoid growing old, to cultivate relationships but also to focus on ourselves, to display ability but also to bet on luck. We play behind closed doors and out in the open, to get away from the ills of everyday life. Some people play a little, others a lot, even too much, sometimes developing an addiction. In every era and at any age, play is a mental activity that frees the mind and hones skills.
Valentina D'Urso teaches General Psychology at the University of Padua.