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How We Play

This assignment ran from Aug 3 to Aug 24, 2018.

The whole world was just captivated by the World Cup and that traditional cheer: GOOOOAAAAAALLLLLLLLL!

Soccer, or football, is a sport that brings people together, regardless of culture or borders. One reason for that is that much of human development and behavior depends on how we play or find enjoyment in activities. While doing some scholarly research for this assignment, I learned that scientists of all fields have a difficult time defining the function of play, and the why of play.

Think about how old some of our traditional games are. Early forms of soccer started thousands of years ago. Chess can be traced back almost 1,500 years, and playing cards even further. If you visit the archeological site of Chichén Itzá, Mexico, which dates back to 900 A.D. or earlier, you’ll see the Gran Juego de Pelota, “The Great Ball Court.” Even lacrosse, which I played in high school and is gaining popularity across the U.S., has its origins in Native American tribes in the 17th century.

While we may not know why we play, we know we always have and always will. So for this assignment, I want you all to share the different ways we play. The Your Shot community spans 195 countries, which means there’s a heck of a lot of diversity in the different (and similar) ways that we play. Ball games, board games, card games, puzzles, video or arcade games, dance, music, with your family, pets or on your own… the list could go on forever. I want to learn about activities from all corners of the globe!

And I want to know the stories behind them, so use your captions to tell me why these activities are important to you, your heritage, or your culture. Playing games and having fun are embedded in human nature, so I want to see how the members of Your Shot community play. There is only one rule for this assignment: have fun and don't be afraid to experiment!

Curated by:

Kristen McNicholas
Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot
Assignment Status
  • Open

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  • Closed

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  • Published

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Published Sep 7, 2018.
Thank you for your contributions!

Officially open for 4 submissions!

Posted aug 20, 2018

Thanks to those who participated in my challenge earlier in the discussions and earned everyone a 4th submission to the assignment!

I broke a personal record for 3 Editor's Updates in a day so thanks for sticking with me. This will be my last Editor's Update for today... 

Awesome job spreading the good vibes today!


Photo Gear "Ask Me Anything" Today, too!

Posted aug 20, 2018

Hi again, everyone!

Join Tom O'Brien, a Photo Engineer (a mechanical engineer) working for National Geographic Magazine, at 10:30am EST to ask him anything on the main discussion board!


Positive Vibes Challenge in the Discussion

Posted aug 20, 2018

Hi everyone!

Check out the assignment discussion board for a fun challenge I am posing to you all in a featured comment at the top of the board...

Happy Monday morning (from Eastern Standard Time)!


Vote for our next assignment!

Posted aug 15, 2018

Hi everyone! We're trying out a fun experiment!

Recently the editors went through your suggested assignment list and selected four assignment themes that were submitted by you, our photo community. We're now asking you to vote on which assignment you think we should run next? We're running a poll where you can select one of the four finalist to be come an assignment on Your Shot. This poll will be open until Monday, August 20th at 12pm EST. So get your vote in! Assignment with the most votes will be a real assignment running in early September!

Click here to cast your vote!


Editor's Update #02

Posted aug 13, 2018

Hi folks! Only about 10 days left to submit now…

As I’m reading through the assignment discussion I’m seeing some awesome feedback being solicited and given throughout the community.

My piece of advice would be to solicit feedback before officially submitting the photo. The comments your fellow community members could sway your submission choice or give you thoughts on how to strengthen the photo for submission! We’re all here to help each other and learn together.

Don’t be afraid to embrace digital gameplay, as well. What are fun or evocative ways to sum up what it’s like to play an Xbox or on a phone without showing us the same frame we’ve seen countless times of someone sitting in front of a screen? That being said, don’t count out classic board games.

One last thing: go outside of the box! Maybe you can’t photograph a game but can you create a still life that be enhanced with your caption to tell us about the game?

Looking forward to submissions!


Editor's Update #01

Posted aug 8, 2018

Hi everyone! I am already so excited about the submissions I’m seeing—lots of great light, fun perspectives and FUN. That’s what it’s all about folks!

At this point I want you to be thinking about how you can teach me something about the activity you’re sharing. Has your family been playing (or watching) or generations? Is there an interesting history? Is the activity not as well known around the world?

With a community spanning 195 countries, there are bound to be some games, activities, play behaviors I have never heard of so I would love to learn more about how we play around the world. Be creative, you can make a still life, you can photograph away from the action of the activity and towards the audience, or the atmosphere of the activity…the possibilities are endless.

Remember, have fun with this!

Kristen McNicholas

Kristen McNicholas

Associate Photo Editor, Nat Geo Your Shot
Kristen is an Associate Photo Editor with the Your Shot team. She interned at the White House Photo Office under the Obama Administration as well as Education Week. A proud RIT alumna, dessert enthusiast and Finger Lakes, NY native, Kristen is excited to guide your photographic journey!