Any attempt to define play runs into the question of whether clear distinctions can be drawn between play and other social practices. Play is typically understood in terms of oppositions. It is contrasted with long-term purposes, productive work, and serious consequences (Goodale and Godbey 1988). Such oppositions have a role in framing people’s beliefs and their actions; however, the definitions, intentions and effects of play remain varied and imprecise. Most definitions of play themselves remain ‘at play’, continuously binding or unraveling. What makes something play and what play ‘means’ to culture continues to be redefined through changing social practice. The strength of the concept of play relies on the binding together of many different social conditions which people may understand as play, but which cannot be collectively defined by any firm set of rules or boundaries. Because play is not a distinct, discrete set of activities, but rather a characteristic which is present to varying degrees in many different kinds of human behavior, it is necessary to look at play from multiple perspectives, drawing together threads of analysis.