Rethinking Play: A WhiteWater Report on the Psychology of Play and its Practical Application

At WhiteWater, we believe play is at the core of why people visit parks. Revaluating play is more than just creating the right play structure or slide, it’s about understanding the play psychology of your guests and creating play experiences that can help them bring their play types alive, and empower them to be playful, once more.

By using a quantitative research methodology, we surveyed 3 different types of audiences comprising 1100+ adult respondents from within the industry, and consumers across US and China – with the idea to probe deeper into the psychology of play, understand the fundamental human drive behind why people play and how they play. And more significantly, how these insights can be applied practically to create parks that are not just more satisfying, but more profitable as a result. Here are the some of the key findings from the report:

  • According to the survey findings, most respondents like to indulge in a combination of different activities when it comes to play. While there is a single definitive play type for everyone, there also exist the secondary play personalities along with the dominant one, that may need careful consideration while planning a park’s ride mix.
  • Based on the survey findings, Adventurers have emerged as the most popular and leading play type, outnumbering the other three play types both in the industry sample and consumer sample, while Challengers have emerged as the lowest across the industry and the general population. The industry results reflect the dominance of Adventurers and Dreamers as opposed to the other two play types which reflect the creative side of the industry, reinforcing the passion to create with the love for adventure.
  • We see different cultural trends emerging through the choices in toy selection, where the US respondents seem more interested in interactivity together by choosing ‘board games’, and Chinese respondents in the future-focused adventure through ‘spaceships’ as their favourite toys.
  • When it comes to favourite leisure activity, more than half the respondents in China opted for ‘discovering the side streets of a city’ while in the US ‘seeing friends’ emerged as most popular – again telling us how there is a growing sense of maturity and need for community in the US population, in direct contrast with the China respondents, where there is a yearning for exploration and adventure – a useful insight if you are developing or managing parks in these regions.

While these are just a few of the survey findings, the complete Play Report offers detailed findings of the survey, tips on bringing play alive in parks, a play evaluation tool and expert insights on the psychology of play.  To know more, reach out to Cassidy Newman, Communications Specialist, WhiteWater and download the complete Play report now!