Yesterday's "Turnabout" post was great fun -- you all do some deadly impressions -- but it's also a nice, informal exercise in writing voice. Whenever I teach kids about writing voice, I'll use an old joke like this one to illustrate my point, and get them focused on what makes a writer unique.
Games can also help writers do more than relax and have fun. For example, Andrew Gryc's AutoRealm, a cartography software program originally designed for RPG players, can be a terrific tool for fantasy writers looking to map their towns, nations and worlds (or maybe even develop an RPG based on their novel.)
Stimulating your imagination through play translates into more creativity on the job as well. The Dread Tap-dancing Vampire of the Lemonade Stand, gratis Seventh Sanctum's Humorous Monster Generator will likely never make it into a Darkyn novel, but a variation on the Obsessive Brain Cow might.
I love playing with cards of all types; tarot, RPG, duelist and various collector's art decks. My #1 favorite cards for story inspiration are still Lon Koenig's gorgeous Archetypes Storytelling Cards, which I've also used to teach a couple of character workshops. Three of the cards in particular jumpstarted ideas which went on to become whole novels.
How do you use play to help with your work?