For many, play is an escape from reality, allowing ourselves to exist beyond the everyday. But what if play acted as more than just an escape and rather, a tool for change, an instrument for conceptual thinking and creative expression. I believe that importance of play is often overlooked and yet is fundamental to human and non-human condition. Johan Huizinga argues the importance of play in Homo Ludens, observing that play precedes culture, as for however it is defined, culture presupposes human society and notably, animals (amongst other non-humans) have played long before us, supposing that culture is therefore expressed through forms of play.

Through this essay I propose how experimentation in play, specifically ‘critical play’, can reconnect us to the non-human, thus promoting interspecies justice as essential to our earthly survival. And as a way of out of the Anthropocene, where we have identified ourselves as the key agents in the climate crisis; our impact on the earth will now leave a permanent scar. Utilising SF thinking: “science fiction, speculative fabulation, string figures, speculative feminism, science fact, so far” outlined by Donna Haraway in Staying with the Trouble and the process of worlding in demonstrating how play in “worlds, gone, here, and yet to come”, can drive a social change and ontological reconfiguration of what has agency when we talk about the environment. I suggest that by building empathy for the non-human through play, we can collectively speculate as to how to induce a return to non-anthropocentric approaches when designing solutions to the climate crisis.

Read the full essay here.