Today’s piece is a bit more of a general argument for why including games and play in our daily lives is important and beneficial for everyone.
I live in the Netherlands and a few days ago I was watching one of the evening talk show-variety programs and the topic was broached about how Dutch society, and to an extent, Western-Modern society is focused on having a culture of conformity. A culture where everyone is placed into what can only be explained as a committee decided averaged out cubby hole.
This “averagisation” of humanity is leading, or in all probability has already lead to a crushing of the human spirit. Boundless creativity isn’t really rewarded and tried & true methods that “everyone” uses are promoted far more. And if you’re thinking that this is only true for either young people or only for older people, then you would be wrong. This kind of mentality is endemic across all ages.
One thing you must understand and remember though is that averagisation is not the same as equality. Averaging people out to a common denominator is not the same as equal treatment for all. When a society creates averages it is removing originality, innovation, and creativity. But when it promotes equality it offers everyone, regardless of gender, race, age, the same opportunities to express their own uniqueness, innovation and ability to create.
Moving to a game & play frame of mind
The question then is, how does a frame of mind based on games and play than help us move away from this horrible trend of averagisation is our societies?
Well, we’ve touched upon one part of it already, creativity and engagement. Games and the ability to play are engrained to the core with mechanics, rules and understood preconceptions that they should be fun, engaging and tap into our creative imaginations.
A product of attempting to creates averages for everything is the that many activities become rote repetitions of themselves. Without targeted experiences, everything needs to be lowered to where supposedly everyone is able to do it. On one hand, everyone is able to do the activity but on the other, no one is actually learning anything useful for a complex and everchanging environment. Repetitive average learning is great when nothing ever changes.
Granted that certain abilities require repetition to truly get the hang of them, but when we use tools such as games and play, we are able to better target, tailor and especially contextualize the activity for the learner. I’m sure not one person is a stranger to the repetitive nature of a school lesson and setting there wondering how this would ever be useful in the real world. Context is how it becomes relevant to the individual, lack of context is how it becomes mundane for the group.
But the group must not be relegated to the side in favor of the individual. The beauty of using games and play is that they have the inherent requirement that they are collaborative, while still targeting specific skill sets within varying individuals. And you may say, well what about single-player games then? Well unless you are truly cut off from the world, which would be sad, you will still talk to friends and family about your experiences in the game. You still seek advice in person or online on how to do certain puzzles, actions, interactions, etc. At no point should you ever really be alone, struggling.