Play is a term which, when used in the context of BDSM, describes any of a diverse number of “kinky” activities. The term play might describe mental or physical sexual interactions of various intensities and levels of social normalcy.

The term play was first coined by participants in the BDSM party and club communities to describe the activities that take place within a scene. Today it has evolved to encompass the full range of BDSM experiences.

More About Play

Play often takes place in gentle introductory sessions, where a couple is learning about one another’s likes, dislikes, and limits. Play can also be a part of more intense, extended interactions where lovers push one another beyond their established boundaries. The term most commonly describes physical interactions such as bondage and flogging, but it can also be applied to mental exchanges such as mind games and erotic hypnosis.

Light play, such as bondage or light spanking, is typical when members of the BDSM community are first getting to know one another, or when vanilla couples are experimenting with BDSM elements. As the intensity increases, the partners’ interactions become known as heavy play. Activities like caning, erotic hypnosis, and suspension bondage, all of which carry some social stigma, fall under this category. Finally, there is a level of even greater intensity known as edge play. Participants in edge play generally accept some level of physical or psychological risk. Breath play, knife and gun play, and blood play may be components of edge play. The distinctions between each type of play are not set in stone; what one person considers edge play may only be considered heavy or even light play to a more adventurous member of the BDSM community.

It’s vital that participants follow established safety rules when engaging in any type of play.

Many people only engage in play in the privacy of their own homes, but others enjoy taking play into the public sphere at BDSM play parties. During these events, guests typically wear colored wristbands to indicate whether they intend to play with one or multiple partners, or whether they prefer to observe. BDSM dungeon monitors preside over play stations to ensure that everyone adheres to safety rules.


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