Playsonality History & DNPlay



What's your play DNA or DNplay?


We recently learned our original Playsonality© name is popping up all over the online world, so we thought it would be timely to share a short history of how Strategic Play® Global came to develop this unique playstyle assessment. 

Yes. We were the first to create an adult playstyle assessment, Playsonality©. 



Way back in 2008, we attended and presented at the Serious Play Conference in Pasadena, California, hosted by the Art College of Design. This was all thanks to a kind invitation by the LEGO® SYSTEMS Group from Denmark, asking our founder Jacqueline Lloyd Smith, to represent them as one of their strategic partners for LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® methods.  Dr. Walter Stevenson, a good friend and professor from Goldengate University, joined us on this adventure.  We were able to work and play at this very early stage in the idea of adult play. At this conference, we took a deep dive into play. We took in presentations from leading minds, such as Tim Brown  and Dr. Stuart Brown . These talks, which were recorded, are now widely popular.


At this point, it was clear everyone could see the importance and value of adult play. They also could see adults play in different ways from children, but it was also evident that no one had developed a psychometric measurement to understand our choices of play. This was our  first call to curiosity.


At Strategic Play, we recognized not only the importance of adult play but we saw that different playstyles enter into the state of flow at different stages. We were curious about this and began to take note of our observations. Jacquie, a trained psychometrist and art and play therapist, with over 25-years’ experience in cognitive and behavioral therapy, became more and more intrigued. She found other team members who were eager to join her on this journey.

(Below, Frank and Jacquie on a playful break in Whistler, 2019)


To jump-start the process, our friend and associate, Frank Prince joined us in Whistler  with his unique perspective as an engineer; he has also been involved in building  a number of other creativity assessments. Next, Stephen J. Walling, a professional coach, joined us with his unique view from a global perspective with his extensive LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methods training. Maxine King, our curriculum designer, joined the fun by defining the learning goals connected to play preferences. She has an MA in Leadership and Adult Learning, and her undergrad studies included Early Childhood Education with a unique view into how learning happens through play for both children and also adult learners. 


We knew if we could find the key to understanding  playstyles we could not only help people get into the flow zone faster, but we could focus on team performance. Play is our favorite way to learn. And the way we play holds the key to how we communicate, prefer to work, the things we value, and how we adapt when faced with adversity.


Our team became focused on solving the puzzle and created a system to demystify the riddle of Adult Play.


We were able to identify adult playstyles through careful analysis. By comparing and contrasting our observations, we created an algorithm to develop the  Playsonality App. With the help of our  international training team, (Kari Campos, Arturo Gimenez, Sven Poguntke, and Sebastien Giroux) we translated the assessment into five different (Portuguese, Spanish, German, French, and English), languages.


Playsonality Prototyping in Austria

1.  In April 2019, we launched our first prototype with the MA students at the Austrian Marketing University (AMU), just outside Vienna. This was a wonderful chance to see the assessment and run a workshop with the students to consider all the ways the assessment could be used. Student teams worked to develop projects, games, activities, and even marketing copy.

(below, AMU MA students building playstyles and diversity with ducks)




2. In June 2019, we ran our second trial with users at the Creative Problem Solving Institute conference at the University at Buffalo, NY. Here we also ran a number of activities and collected more feedback to improve the assessment. 

Jacqueline Lloyd Smith presented Playsonality in her spotlight followed by a workshop supported by the Strategic Play   Global Team: Dr. Steve Ralph Jr., (USA), Jonathan Banister, (UK), Stephen J. Walling (CAN), and Sven Poguntke, (DE).




3. In October 2019, we ran our third trial with facilitators at the Strategic Play Playing with Professors and the Unconference in Whistler, Canada

We ran different types of LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methods activities and collected more feedback to improve the assessment. This conference attracted leading minds on play from around the world: Asia, Australia, Africa, Brazil, China, Mexico, Panama, EU, USA,  Canada, UK.


4. Two years online: Between January 2020 and December 2021, due to the pandemic, we ran the majority of our testing  and prototyping online and world-wide as part of our LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methods training certifications. We saw this application as a great way to support and differentiate our training offerings. 


5. In December 2021, we worked with a Junior Hockey Team in Whistler, Canada. We were once again surprised and pleased with the results as we gathered some amazing feedback in the workshop that followed.  The players used the playsonality assessment to identify playstyles and compared and contrasted elements to their team performance. 


6. In March, 2022, teammate Leo Chan joined us and we offered a workshop at an innovation space near Toronto, Ontario.


7. In June 2022, we returned to the Creative Problem Solving Institute conference at Niagara University in Niagara Falls, NY. Once again, the assessment delivered amazing results. Participants enjoyed the program and provided solid positive feedback to help us with continual improvements. Strategic Play Trainer Van Lai-DuMone (USA) ran another pilot project with her team in California. 



8. In August 2022, we worked with one of our LEGO SERIOUS PLAY methods graduates, Sara Ramadoro, to deliver the program in-house at Google London where she leads a creative team. She  provided us with great feedback that we captured in this article and in our  podcast interview with her.

9. This same month, Stephen and Jacquie delivered the program in downtown Vancouver, and again receiving a great response.



10. In October 2022,  Dr. Kerri Cissna, Miami University (John W. Altman Institute for Entrepreneurship) asked us to present to multiple student cohorts. Again, we had lots of fun and the students enjoyed discussions about play preferences and team performance. The students used the playsonality  assessment for learning reflections and team dynamics, and one group used the outcomes to create a team  Record Album Cover  (their team assignment). 

playsonalitymiamiu playsonalitymiamiu2


11. In December, 2022 (and special thanks to Falina Stack) Strategic Play Trainer Sebastien Giroux joined us in Surrey, where we worked with the H.R. Department for the Award Winning City of Surrey to uncover their team's playstyles. Again, people enjoyed the process and are applying collective learning to their internal team processes. 



If you are doing the math, that's over four years of our lives developing this wonderful Playsonality assessment tool that is now coming to fruition.  That's the equivalent of a newborn growing into a preschooler. We're so proud!


Where are we going next? 


We are proudly presenting our work with the Playsonality assessment and workshop in the following places:

April 2023: CREA Conference (Italy)

April 2023: EPIC International Summit (California)

May 2023: We're off to the Caribbean for a conference to be announced.

June 2023: CPSI (NY) part of a week-long program on play


Final note 

We originally hoped to make our Playsonality assessment available to anyone who was curious about the app. However, we have made the more recent decision to only allow access via codes that must be obtained from our Strategic Play and SPG Europe training team.  Yes. We were the first to create the adult playstyle assessment Playsonality. And remember, kids: The Playsonality assessment tool, play type descriptors, psychometric tools, and all related materials are Strategicplay’s intellectual property! 


If you are curious, please contact us so we can direct you toward your closest facilitator / trainer. 

We have bricks and books and will travel to you. We are always happy to do in-house workshops.

P.S. And yes, words matter too:

Playsonality©2019 is credited to Maxine King, our Strategic Play Global Curriculum Designer.

DNplay©2019 & PlayDNA©2019 are credited to Stephen Walling, our Strategic Play Global Trainer.


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