Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Don't try this at home

Walking out into the bright sunlight we all rubbed our eyes. The James Bond matinee double feature was over and we hurried home. We had gadgets to make and bad guys to fight. The rest of the afternoon was spent shooting Lego guns and generally kicking the shit out of each other. It was the late '70s.

Kids like to act out the stories they read, hear or watch. Every generation, from sword fighting and martial arts, to laser battles had its role playing adventure. Is it all just fun or is it training for life as well? The role playing worked on their physical skills and team building qualities. Imagination is also sharpened, after all there had to be a plan to save the world.

The last decade or two has brought another dynamic to the stage. Video games play a huge part in the role playing arena. You have just dropped $60 bucks taking your kids to the latest blockbuster action adventure and on the way home they beg you to stop at the nearest game store to pick up the game version. The rest of the afternoon is spend re-enacting the movie with a controller. Your imagination is hampered since the world is in place already. Your team building skills are not sharpened since you are interacting with a bunch of virtual underlings. Sitting in front of the TV working the controller is not very physical.

Although the video game has changed the scope of role playing its not all bad. Quick thinking and decision making are honed in ways only game simulation can do. You make the wrong decision the first time, and maybe the second time too, but eventually you will learn and achieve your goal. You train yourself to adapt to the ever changing situations in the virtual world. Causality teaches powerful lessons. Is that not training for life as well?

My son can pick up the nuances in a video game in ways I can't grasp. He can always beat me in that world. His mind is active. His thinking is quicker and I can not catch him. In the computer age his decision making is far more accelerated than I was at his age.

As my friends and I run around the playground saving the world, my friend jumps off the monkey bars and sprains his ankle. All the kids stop playing and help him home. Saving the world will have to wait a little while longer. It's getting dark anyway.


Unknown said...

I remember playing army as a kid. My friends and I would get big sticks and pretend they were rifles. Water balloon grenades were great also. My son does play a lot of video games, but every once in a while a water balloon fight still break out. Love the story, keep up the good writing.

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