As luck would have it, before meeting over 20 years ago, we were both already involved in play and playwork. Prior to Ludicology, Ben worked in early years settings, in management positions at two adventure playgrounds, as a national play development officer for Play Wales and lectured in both Further and Higher Education. Mike was also a qualified playworker, design engineer and adult trainer, with a background in out-of-school childcare and staffed play provision. However, it was through our work together in Wrexham, North East Wales, that Ludicology as an organisation emerged.
In 2012, Wales became the first country in the world to legislate specifically in support of children’s right to play with the introduction of the Welsh Play Sufficiency Duty. At the time, Mike was managing Wrexham Council’s play service and Ben was running the playwork degree at Glyndwr University (also in Wrexham). Together we were tasked with producing Wrexham’s first play sufficiency assessment.
The experimental approach we developed, grounded in research with children, radically changed our own and other people’s thinking about play. We soon came to realise that the scope of this work and our passion for play sufficiency, went well beyond the boundaries of our day jobs. Around the same time, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, through General Comment 17, recommended that state parties introduce legislation to support children’s play based on the principle of sufficiency, thus, opening the door for many more people to work with the concept.
Ludicology means the study of playfulness. We now work as researchers and consultants, supporting those interested in play and playfulness to develop evidence-based, play-centred policies and practices. We believe that understanding children’s playful behaviour and ways to support it are essential in caring for and working on behalf of children, families, and communities. Our passion for play sufficiency remains central to our work. Over the past decade, we have produced research at neighbourhood, local authority, and national levels. Find out more here.
Beyond play sufficiency, our areas of expertise include playwork and risk management. Our publications include numerous national guidance documents and toolkits, journal articles, and book chapters. We have also presented on these topics at multiple national and international conferences. You can find out more about our published work here.
Whilst we continue to base ourselves in Wrexham, our work now goes well beyond Wales, supporting others to uphold children’s right to play. Our many years of experience working in advocacy and development roles within local authorities, community organisations, schools, colleges, and universities, means that we are well placed to understand the needs of those we work with.
Outside of work, we continue to hang out together, riding our bikes and going on family holidays. We’re actually related, as Mike is married to Ben’s sister, so it’s a good thing we get along!
Find out more about what we do here.