Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The value of play

The Old Bridge Public library in New Jersey held a Wii tournament for senior citizens a few weeks ago, as part of a project to help pensioners become more technically literate. The library assistant director, Allan Kleiman, explained that it was a lot less intimidating and significantly more sociable to learn to use the Wii than to learn to use a computer. He's got a point. The social side of gaming is often overlooked by critics and it's pretty difficult for anyone to have an informed discussion about teh educational and social potential of gaming without having direct experience of using computer games in a variety of contexts.

Making the technology available also draws the younger folks into the library and ironically seems in turn to lead to more books getting loaned out, in contrast to the widely toted notion that computer games take kids away, to the detriment of their development, from the much more cerebral, engaging, but humble book.

It gets back to the Charles Nesson/Yochai Benkler assertion that we will become intelligent and creative 'readers'/users of new technology through being intelligent creators/users of and through new technology i.e. the try it out and see what works model of life. Keep playing and tinkering and find out for yourself rather than waiting for others to dictate to you.

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