What’s Your Play Personality?



What’s a Play Personality?

When I talk about your play personality, I’m talking about what kind of fun activities you would be more inclined to enjoy. Dr. Stuart Brown coined the phrase in his book Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul. He put people into eight categories based on the types of things they like to do with their free time.

Although Dr. Brown came up with the play personality concept, I changed and adapted some of them to fit more into the movement part of play. You can look up the originals in Dr. Brown’s book but for My Adventure Playground purposes, these are the main play personalities.

Most people fit into one of these categories more than any others, although some of you might find that you stray a little toward more than one. That’s okay. The point of this activity is to help you discover who you are and what you like to do so that it’s easier for you to figure out new things to try.

Play Personality Types

The Explorer


 This is the person who loves discovering new things, loves going long distances and seeing what’s over the next hill. Curiosity drives this type of play personality. Explorers are  laid back adventurer who gets a thrill when new things come their way or love the peace and harmony nature provides. Examples of play for the Explorer:

  • hiking
  • trail running
  • biking
  • kayaking
  • travelling
  • horesback riding
  • scuba diving
  • roller blading

The Adventurer


 Adventurers love a new challenge and they love getting their hands dirty. Driven by fearlessness or the need to overcome fear, Adventurers go for the more extreme (and slightly more dangerous) types of play. The Adventurer doesn’t like sitting still for very long. Examples of play for the Adventurer:

  • rock climbing
  • whitewater rafting
  • surfing
  • hang gliding
  • snowboarding

The Competitor


The Competitor gets a thrill from competing with other people. Whether trying to one up another person or to trying to do better than they did the day before, this person enjoys playing with a purpose. Examples of play for the Competitor:

  • soccer
  • racing
  • disc golf
  • Crossfit
  • power lifting
  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • tennis
  • roller derby

The Acrobat


Whether they want to be the next American Ninja or a graceful prima ballerina, acrobats enjoy movements that are based on extreme control of the body. Movements of the acrobat are always mindful and precise. They are usually lean, strong and flexible. Examples of play for the Acrobat:

  • parkour
  • dance
  • circus performance
  • yoga
  • gymnastics
  • aerial movements
  • sprinting

The Combatant

kung fu

This person loves to fight. The Combatant isn’t necessarily aggressive (or maybe they are, that’s cool too) but there is a certain thrill they get from going head-to-head with an opponent or a target. Examples of play for the Combatant:

  • martial arts
  • archery
  • fencing
  • paintball
  • laser tag
  • LARPing
  • wrestling
  • boxing

The Kid


The Kid is the type that is the most pure in love of play. This person knows their inner child and isn’t afraid to show it. The Kid will play for the sake of play. Their movements are unstructured and their only focus is to have fun. Examples of play for the Kid:

  • climbing trees
  • playing on the playground
  • childhood games (the floor is lava, tag)
  • jumping rope
  • roughhousing

The Caveman


The Caveman is a bit of a blend of the above but with more of a natural focus. Cavemen tend to enjoy movment that harks back to our early hunter/gatherer ancestors. Play is usually unstructured, but has a purpose. Examples of play for the Caveman:

  • barefoot running
  • MoveNat
  • hunting
  • quadrapedal movement
  • heavy lifting
  • bodyweight workouts

The Worker

push ups

Although it seems contradictory, I decided to include the Worker as a play personality. Dr. Brown says that the opposite of play is not work, it’s depression. Although many traditional fitness advice will fit into the “work” category, I feel that most people would enjoy doing something else instead of work. However, there are people who enjoy putting their nose to the grindstone and tracking what they do. People who do this because it makes them happy deserve a place in the “play personality” camp as any of the others. Examples of play for the Worker:

  • traditional workouts (pushups, jumping jacks, planks, burpees, etc)
  • weight lifting
  • running
  • general cardio



How To Benefit From Your Play Personality

You might discover that one of these categories describes you to a tee. You might find that you’re a mix of a bunch of different ones. Personally, I am an Acrobat but I find that I enjoy a lot of the same things most of the other play personalities would enjoy. When you find what type of play personality you are, you will be more focused in finding your passions when it comes to play.

For example, if you are a Competitor you might start exploring what kind of Competitor you are by trying out different sports in your area or signing up for races. You can do this by going to meetup.com and finding out what meetup groups might fit in these categories. If you’re a gamer type, you might go to the Nerd Fitness Rebellion and find the class that best fits your personality and team up with others to level up your life. You can ask around on Facebook or Twitter and see if anyone is up for any of the examples I listed that seems interesting to you.

Hopefully, when you find your personality, you can discover what makes you happy and you can find others with similar interests who can motivate you and get you up and moving. Good luck!

Want to share your play personality? Need help finding yours? Let me know in the comments below.  


Photo Sources: A small skirmish 2 by Brent Spencer, Hiking Out From Rexford by Dru!, Snowboarding Kung-Fu by Alex Indigo, Shinny Hockey the Austrian Way by Peschetz, Parkour Sunset 2 by Tyson Cecka, Kung Fu en Plaza Espana by Hector Gomez Herrero, Cartwheel by J R , Attack of the caveman by Alejandro Mallea, Big Bay Boot Camp 2012 by Port of San Diego, Met a mime by Rohit Rath


14 Responses to “What’s Your Play Personality?”

      • Tracy M. Website

        I like hiking and traveling, and I used to be a big biker before I moved to the city. It just scares the hell out of me here, haha. At one point in time I was two belts away from my first black belt in Tae Kwon Do, too!

        These days I’m a worker out of necessity. Not a ton of hiking trails in Manhattan. I’m doing a lot of walking (starting to add in a few jogging intervals – yay!) with some CrossFit style moves for strength training. It gets the job done.

        • Devyn Website

          Wow! What is it that stops you from doing the things you really want to do when it comes to fitness?

          • Tracy M. Website

            Mainly time and money, honestly. As you might imagine, martial arts lessons here in the city are enormously expensive, and honestly I would have to get into better shape before I could consider doing it again anyway. Hiking would involve trips outside of the city. It’s OK though – I’m learning to love long walks along the East River. 🙂

          • Devyn Website

            Yeah, martial arts are completely expensive, but you can usually find tutorials online. Sure, nothing is better than having an instructor and you probably couldn’t learn online how to defend yourself, but if learning is fun and it gets you moving, even if it’s not correct (as long as you take care not to hurt yourself) then I don’t see what’s wrong with striking up a youtube video and trying it out. Some people might not agree with this, but I’m not a purist. There will always be obstacles, but there’s always a way to do something if you really want it.

      • Devyn Website

        That’s fantastic! Finding competitive ways to keep active can help keep you really fit. Some of the fittest people in the world are competitors.

    • Devyn Website

      Competitive kid! I suppose you’d like a lot of childhood games. My favorite was always dodgeball.

    • Devyn Website

      Seems like you’re ninja material! I’ve been seeing some Youtube videos going around of different types of combative parkour. Maybe you would like something like that?

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    Wow, marvelous blog format! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for?
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    • Devyn Website

      Thanks! I have been blogging on and off for about 10 years. This blog is nearly 2 months old. Thank you for the compliment.


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