10 playful confessions from co-founder of #play14, Cédric Pontet

1. How did #play14 start?

#play14 started with transforming frustration into something constructive.

Back in 2013, some people could not register to play4agile because seats were sold out in minutes. Instead of complaining, we decided to see it as an opportunity. We gathered to speak about organizing our own event about serious games. From the start, we decided to make it as open as possible.

#play14 was born. 3 months later, we had the first event in Luxembourg.

More history there

2. Are you fan of soccer player Johan Cruijff? Why number 14?

"Why not ?" is usually our first answer to this question.
The second one is "Because we can".

3. What is the secret ingredient of #play14?

People, without hesitation.

As organizers, we just bring people together in the same location and provide food, drinks and a bit of game materials. The rest is all about the people. Participants are the beating heart of #play14. That's the beauty of the unconference / open space format. There is no upfront agenda, no official speaker, no star or diva, simply open minded people, enjoying learning from each other.

4. What is the craziest experience you had during one of the events?

It was probably during the very first event. During the second day afternoon, some people had to take a plane back home and we ended up with a small group of "hard core gamers". Giovanni Puliti decided to give us an introduction to improv theater. It ended up with us improvising on the 3 little piggies in 5 minutes, 1 minute, 30 seconds, and finally 5 seconds. I don't know if I ever laughed that much in my entire life. And for the record, Michael Tarnowski makes a mean impression of the "big bad wolf".

Now, we had so many great moments during each event that I am not even sure this is the craziest.

  • We have sent martians on holidays
  • We have built a pyramid on the moon to protect Donald Trump's hair, that was finally destroyed by Cleopatra and her giant banana
  • We have run through many corridors of trust
  • We have evolved from egg to chicken, from chicken to elephant, and from elephant to superman
  • We have built and solved a maze in less than 30 minutes
  • We have named circles, counted to 33, danced and followed the leader
  • We have solved puzzles while being shout at
  • We have built spaghetti towers to hold a marshmallow

The craziest thing might just be that we have never ever been ashamed of any of this at any time… on the contrary.

5. How would you describe the audience of #play14 in one phrase?

Open minded people who are curious about everything, eager to learn, ready to get out of their comfort zone, happy to provide knowledge and to receive it, without judgment or prejudice.

And of course playful.

6. If you could invite anybody to #play14. Who would be your dream participant?

Literally anyone.

As mentioned earlier, we want #play14 to be as open as possible.

We have a few rules though, mainly presented in our Code of Conduct that we summarize by don't be a jackass and don't ruin other people's experience and fun.

7. Why should people come to #play14 Madrid at 9, 10 and 11th of June?

First because it's going to be hot and sunny as always in Madrid. Sun is something we don't have that much in Luxembourg, so it matters.

Second because it's our very first event in Spain. We will also have Barcelona later in 2017, but why wait ?

Third, because I am sure that the team in Madrid will do a great work in organizing a wonderful event. We have seen it happen everywhere, the city and the location is different, but the spirit stays the same.

#play14 is quite universal that way.

8. Complete this sentence: without Serious Gaming…

…my life would be boring and much more difficult to live. And my customer's too.

Oh, and I would not have met so many excellent people.

9. What is your vision on the future of playfulness?

Playfulness is becoming mainstream. More than a trend, it's a way of seeing the world. It has been scientifically proven that the human brain retains much better when actually doing something instead of being told how to do it. Learning by doing is not new. The master and the apprentice pattern goes as far as human existence.

And it's not because you have fun doing something, and that sometimes you get a little silly, that you are not actually working and learning. It's the opposite. Having fun while doing something actually helps you learn better and stimulates your brain. It also allows you to use more of the right side of your brain, which makes you more creative and open to new ideas.

I would make a difference between gamification and playfulness though. For me, gamification is a strategy, whereas playfulness is more a state of mind. There is a nuance.

10. What do you hope #play14 to become in 5 years?

We will all be rich and retire… wait… no… #play14 is non-profit so this will never work.

More seriously, in 5 years, I think we will have at least one #play14 event every other week, all around the world. We never expected what we call now the #play14 movement to grow so fast. But given the current growth rate, it's actually possible.

All we, as founders and local organizers, want to guarantee, is that you live the same overall experience, whether you come to Luxembourg, London, Berlin, Milano or Madrid, even though there are some slight differences due to the different locations and local culture of course.

This is true today, and it will stay true tomorrow. We have already had some discussions about organizing events in the US, or in Asia. I am sure it will come at some point. We just need to get better organized to be able to cope with that.

Anyway, we have 5 years for that, no ?