Playfulness: The Ultimate Tech Disrupter and World Transformer


Ayushi Bhardwaj, Business Manager

I visited Google’s campus in Silicon Valley a couple of weeks ago, with high expectations going in—the company, a pioneer of technological expansion and the epitome of innovation itself, would intuitively have a never-before-seen main office. Would every electric pencil sharpener on campus have a solar panel attached to it? Would there be a room filled to the brim with Google Chromebooks? A Google Chromebook ball pit, perhaps? 

Once I was there, I concluded that Google’s campus was simply a neighborhood playground. Simplicity yet vibrancy radiated from every nook. Statues of characters were littered around the campus, greeting people with a cheerful presence. Everything was washed in bold colors with the daring reds, yellows and blues. Truly, a rainbow had dissolved and fallen as a blanket of energy upon campus. There was even a fake dinosaur, and on the ground right beneath its back end, lay a fake dinosaur fecal dropping, plump and realistic, but bereft of olfactory sensations… Thankfully.

After witnessing the surprising charm Google’s campus had, I was quite inquisitive about the intentionality of it all. What benefit would this quirky and youthful campus provide any engineer working on crystalizing Google Maps or fine-tuning the search engine’s algorithms? 

For now, I have concluded that it derives to a familiar and powerful concept: Playfulness.

Playfulness is whatever enters your mind first. 

Google’s campus, at least in my interpretation, illuminates the value of Playfulness. I think we should too. The impulsivity, the limitless imagination and the bold move to believe in anything: these are the values that empower the engineers to work with dynamism and liberation. If we emulate these values, we can keep growing inside out, outside in. 

Many times in meetings, I hear a dialogue along the lines of, “This idea might be too much, but here it goes,” as one prefaces their pitch with a cautionary caveat. 

I wonder if ideas were “too much” or too far-fetched back in my childhood days. Was our Playfulness so restricted as it is now? Was making imaginary scenarios out of mere plastic toys “too much”? 

Perhaps, as slightly unsure, slightly confident young adults, we shouldn’t be so hesitant to imagine, reimagine and believe. We should capture the youthful spirit from years ago when we could make nothing into everything. We should play. I encourage you to express freely and take the risk of pushing boundaries, even if it’s as simple as proposing a progressive idea to a school club you are a part of. Or maybe even attempt something less formal––prop a book of light-hearted puns next to your stack of AP Test Review books to spruce up your workspace into a playspace. Perhaps paste a blank sheet of paper on your wall and use it as a free-form scribble realm: if an idea pops up in your mind, you draw it on that sheet. In daily habits and repetitive routines, we can carve out opportunities for fluidity. As Bernard Shaw puts it, “we don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”

Perhaps Playfulness is the genesis of innovation. Needless to say, it works for Google–really well, actually, if you take a glance at the company’s net worth and satisfaction amongst employees (it’s 97% may I add). Google’s campus, its business playground, is a representation of the company’s expansive leaps and bounds, as employees play tag all the way to their next mega product launch.

With all said and done, I still haven’t quite figured everything out yet. Can Playfulness really be applied everywhere? How can I make grade deflation in college playful? How can taxes become imaginative? I don’t know all of the answers. But for now, my plans for the summer are slowly taking shape: Pretend City, Disneyland, the neighborhood park—I am on my way and I am ready to play.