Monday, February 11, 2008

They Say Games Are No Good For Kids...

This article (Xbox is Crack for Kids) is kind of funny in a way. This offhand opinion met with hundreds of angry replies. Honestly, I don't think that the game-playing community needs to be so defensive. Games, or more broadly, interactive-everything, is the future.

That article represents the solitary voice screaming at the tsunami to keep its distance. We humans want to be entertained. We go to great lengths to build entertainment technology and we've always adapted non-entertainment technology to serve the purposes of entertainment.

In any event, I've long held that good-quality games are excellent teaching tools. My eight year-old son is a strong reader. He's always loved games and has (coincidentally) been drawn to games that require heavy reading. Nintendo fans know what I'm talking about. Because of the games, he was motivated early on to read, and the interactivity of games pushed him further in that direction. Now, paradoxically, he loves reading novels (but still plays games!).

Here's another example. My children love Tim Schafer's phenomenal Psychonauts. About a week ago, while getting the kids to sleep, I found my six year-old daughter sitting on her bed deep in thought.

"What are you thinking about?" I asked.

"Daddy, why did Napoleon lose at Waterloo?" She asked.

I laughed, "I don't really know, but we can look it up.."

I don't think her first-grade textbooks could have provoked that question.

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