Our children learn so much more from gaming than we ever will. We are the Doom, and Quake generation. We subsisted on Risk and Monopoly. Fortunately, we have refined our palate and we are training fledgling gamers to further refine what is palatable to them.
Game designers throughout the history of gaming have shown us glimpses of the true potential in games. Future designers continue to explore the divide between analog and digital gaming. I can imagine a day when there exists a game in which the real and the virtual are indistinguishable. But there are more practical matters currently at hand.
Our children learn effective communication, crisis management and practical economics with a smile. They learn maths and physics and rejoice. All of this is happening right now. Future generations of gamers have the potential not just to change the way we teach, but the power to change humanity.
They will become the Übermensch that Hitler hoped for—without the whole blond/e haired, blue-eyed, pasty white skinned, genocidal pyramid-scheme thing. The only thing that Hitler got wrong was… wellhe pretty much got everything wrong. He shouldn’t have given up as an artist; he should have learned to take responsibility for his actions; he shouldn’t have attempted genocide, and then there’s the whole invading Russia, getting stuck there in the Winter thing. Listen, Alphy, baby, I know you grew up around the Alps and all, but ehh Moscow ain’t the Alps, if you catch my drift?
Eugenics also, in retrospect, is a bad idea.
Most of the video games out today are thinly veiled Skinner Boxes while our children yearn for Minecraft so they might be free. They are smarter than we were at their age. They don’t want their games easy with a nice cookie at the end, they want a challenge.
Gamification is all the rage in corporations and schools. Gamification is a skinner box. It’s an easy out. The game isn’t fun, but at least I get these rewards. So what can we do?
I believe, our job is to continue a trend of advancement in learning through games, whether they be digital or analog. As game designers this is our highest calling. We must make really fun games which impart knowledge and wisdom. The knowledge need not be something as rote as times tables. It just has to teach something. The wisdom imparted need only sew a seed. There is too much ignorance in the world. We must impart the wisdom and knowledge we possess, so that they get through it and move on to finding new ways to learn, new experiences to engage with.
It’s possible that there are lessons one might never learn playing a game. But there are few that I can think of and all may be disproven.
A game made me cry, even when my grandfather’s death didn’t. When my parent’s got divorced I didn’t cry. Even when I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, tears did not come until much later. Our young gamers will not be devoid of emotion, they will be full of emotions, completely aware of how and why they affect them. They will be conscious of their emotions in a way I will never be.
My son plays Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare (he just got the sequel and loves it). He learns more about teamwork then he ever has in school. He learns: to act without thinking, to assess risk, and the ability to make precisely coordinated movements. He learns: tactics and strategy, the value of a great team, and a healthy respect for his opponents. And that’s just one game, right here, right now.
Let’s hope to see what they’ve learned in 30 more years of gaming.
NOTE: I use digital vs analog to mean experience existing inside of a computer or in the physical world. This is a common abuse of the words but one I think people may come to accept. The words are often used in reference to gaming, and that is what this article and this site are about.