What are the rules to ping pong?
Donald A. Norman, a dude much smarter than me says: “Design — and for that matter, most problem solving — requires creative thinking followed by a considerable period of concentrated, focussed effort. In the first case, creativity, it is good for the designer to be relaxed, in a good mood. Thus, in brainstorming sessions, it is common to warm up by telling jokes and playing games. Good brain storming and unusual, creative thinking require the relaxed state induced by positive affect.” (Norman, Emotional Design, 2004, p. 26). Well put Don.
There is definitely something to be said for messing around.
I enjoy breaking routine. I’ve always felt most creative when I’ve been ‘messing about’ or breaking (harmless) rules. There’s a feeling you get when, to put it in kiddy terms, you’re acting naughty. It’s as though your brain is registering that you’re not usually allowed to do whatever it is you’re doing, and it’s starting to think outside of the socially accepted boundaries it usually travels within, it starts to conjure up a whole bunch of other weird things you can do too. It’s a great creative mindset to find yourself in. It’s exciting. It unlocks doors and warms the creative spirit.
So to sum up, after that last hippy paragraph – I’d highly recommend playing a game of design ping pong next time you have the luxury of a designer buddy to work with. Or just mess around and break your day to day process, if not just to have a bit of fun.