Why I Play: Yesim Kunter

interviewed by The Pink Pony

“Play is the manifestation of our connection with ourself, others and or our surroundings to achieve deeper meanings.”

This new interview of our ‘Why I Play’ series features play consultant and futurist Yesim Kunter. After having worked many years in the toy industry, Yesim founded the play consultancy Play to Innovate that specialises in using play to foster creativity within organisations. She explains why play is crucial for all, adults and children alike.

Ready to play? 

Hi Yesim, please tell us what do you do?

I’m a Play Expert and a Futurist. I leverage the creative minds of people by making them play. I don’t have any particular age group or industry, because I see Play as a space and time that gives any subject to find its own path. That’s why I have created PlaytoInnovate® Workshops for everyone. Since then I have been giving talks, lectures, facilitating workshops and giving consultation to brands. Some of the topics that I have covered till now are: Play and Collaboration, Engagement, Leadership, Product development, Innovation, Foresight, Health, Beauty, Consumer Research for Children, Lean Design.

Having worked with children I was fascinated by their endless curiosity, intuition and freedom to question their surroundings. Then I started to see that if we, as adults, gave permission to ourselves to be playful enough we would start to see many connections and through that we would be able to innovate, understand hard topics, communicate, collaborate, find solutions and be flexible in order to adapt.

What is play for you?

In todays’ fast changing world, where technological developments affect our daily lives and merge generations onto each other, play is the manifestation of our connection with ourselves, others and or our surroundings to achieve deeper meanings.

When was the last time you played?

I see Life as a Play. And see the World as my playground. Just recently I was playing with the waves. I love it. This is probably because I’m raised by the seaside in one of the most amazing cost sides of Turkey, Cesme.

Also I just facilitated a PlaytoInnovate® Workshop for about 50 executives in Turkey in order for them to understand the dynamics of their organisation, that was really fun. I feel very happy whilst engaging people into the zone of Play.

How do you use play in your work?

I use play in many forms. Play is my tool to leverage the creative mind. I mostly facilitate workshops with loads of materials that have nothing to do with people’s daily life, and I try to push them to break their comforts zones by using metaphoric thinking and psychology with design principals.

What do you get from playing?

Play provides me with time and space to try, fail, take risks, explore, experiment, challenge, and master my thoughts, behaviors and skills. Play helps me create new meanings, definitions and solutions.

Why do you think play is important for people in general – and not only children?

Play is the soul of the living. It creates the energy for us to evolve and adapt. If you look around to those who had no chance to play or those whose playfulness has been cut off, which we call play deprivation, they are the ones who are stressed, depressesed, and the ones who stopped trying. Of course Play is crucial for children but also for adults. There is a great quote from George Bernard Shaw ‘We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.’

If you were an imaginary animal what would it be?

I would like to be Haru’s Dragon from Spirited Away. I just love his uniqueness and beauty in the way he flies in the sky. He has a very playful form and flow.

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