One of my favorite psychologists, Peter Gray, (Defender of the Playful) recently posted an article called “The Many Benefits, for Kids, of Playing Video Games,” in which he writes:
Why do we worry about a kid’s spending maybe 4 or 5 hours a day at a computer screen, doing what he wants to do, but don’t worry about the same kid sitting at school for 6 hours a day and then doing homework for another couple of hours–doing what others are forcing him to do? I ask you to consider the possibility that the kid is learning more valuable lessons at the computer than at school, in part because the computer activity is self-chosen and the school activity is not.
When kids are asked, in focus groups and surveys, what they like about video games, they generally talk about freedom, self-direction, and competence. In the game, they make their own decisions and strive to meet challenges that they themselves have chosen. At school and in other adult-dominated contexts they may be treated as idiots who need constant direction, but in the game they are in charge and can solve difficult problems and exhibit extraordinary skills. In the game, age does not matter, but skill does. In these ways, video games are like all other forms of true play.
Powerful arguments, these. Powerful questions. Powerfully wonderful to find them being asked, and answered.