“Honey, I want you to play more video games.”
Wait, what? That’s a dad talking to his eight-year-old daughter. It’s not your average dictate in a day and age when parents are pulling their hair out trying to drag kids away from the screen and teach them what “grass” and “sunshine” are. So why does Chad Sapieha want his daughter to play more video games?
Short answer: they’re better than some of the drivel she’s watching on TV. (Not that all television is drivel, but, well, you know the programs I’m talking about.)
Long answer: Why shouldn’t she play video games? Sapieha cites some of the most engaging, creative games ever made, and notes that his daughter is taking those games and running with them in other creative ways—making the papercraft characters from Tearaway, for instance. Scribblenauts is a game where players have to invent astoundingly creative solutions to overcome obstacles while improving vocabulary. Minecraft’s open-world building mechanic allows players to create whatever structures they please, provided it can be done with small building blocks. Just Dance easily gets players up and moving.
It’s also important to note that not every family has the option to just go out and play any time. Sapieha and his daughter live in a small apartment in the city, and though they frequent the local parks, they can’t always make it to the park—traveling to a city park is much more time-consuming than just running into the yard for a quick game of catch.
The main difference between TV and games, for Sapieha, is that games are interactive. You can’t just passively watch a video game. Sapieha is confident that the right games will give his daughter a creative, active, exploratory outlet for her imagination. She’ll practice what she’s learned and get to know her way around design and digital creation. In short, Sapieha is not restraining his daughter by asking that she play more video games—he’s supporting her continued growth and imagination.
[download file=”http://www.pixelkin.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/Get-Connected.pdf” title=”Get Connected: A Pixelkin Guide to Family Gaming”]