• The Goose

By respecting the power of play, developers can change the world

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

The power of play is a familiar phrase. It rings true for most of us, but we’re a bit fuzzy on what it actually means. What power does it have and why?

Andreas Stjärnhem knows, and he’s built his business, Sticky Beat, by harnessing that power.

At this week’s Friday Stories, Andreas will share what he knows with aspiring games makers and industry professionals. Before the event, we invited him to tell us more about his work and why games are an important cultural - and political - force.

Unconscious learning

Andreas is a life-long gamer. As a kid, video games, role-playing games, and board games were a big part of his life. You’d find him running the length of the soccer pitch, too. He wrestled and boxed, and he was even a dancer. One way or another, games and play shaped Andreas’s childhood. He recalls that while no one ever quizzed him on why he liked to chase a ball with 22 other guys, he had to defend the fantasy-filled creative games he enjoyed so much.

Only later did he come to understand the importance of these games. Andreas explains: ‘When I started Sticky Beat, I realized that by playing a lot of games, I came to understand the game mechanics that teach us things without us realizing it.’

Play, he discovered, unlocks the mind:

Games open doors in the mind and teach us stuff. And we can use that power to teach people stuff that’s hard to learn, complex, abstract, but important stuff. Games can teach people important stuff.’

Using play to activate new knowledge is now Andreas’s mission. Sticky Beat’s ‘core business is taking tough subjects and making something playful out of them.’ And his approach works because digital games are no longer treated with suspicion as they were in his childhood. Since then, the industry has evolved from a niche sub-culture to an economic juggernaut. Now everyone plays games.