This Christmas, our house joined much of the rest of America with the addition of an X-box computer and some games. The lucky recipients to this game were my children: Connor- 8 and Allyson 6.
While I was never a computer game junkie, I am fairly technical with computers and love puzzles and problem solving. As a kid, I never got into computer games, never went to the arcade and didn’t even play the early games of pacman or pinball. As far at this type of entertainment, I followed my fathers lead and never got interested. Other than the role of a father, I don’t know any other reason that I didn’t get involved in video games.
My kids, however are having a different experience. They have had an X-box at their mom’s house for some time now. Hearing all of the excitement, I thought, I mean Santa thought it would be fun to have one at our house.
So now it is time to set this up and play our first game of X-box. Usually flying with out instructions, I set them aside but within reach just in case. But what was I thinking! My 8 year old son proceeded to instruct me, accurately, how to put the system together, connect with TV and set up our first game. I was dumbfounded. What was happening here? Listening to my 6 year old daughter, she made sure we did things right. In the end, there was no “debugging” everything worked as it should.
So off to our first game- something called Fusion Frenzy. None of us had played this game before so of course we would need to read about how to play. Wrong! The game started and the kids took off. I played catch up the entire night and never did catch up. To this day, I am still no quite sure how to improve my score. However, my kids picked up on the different types of play like they were born into this world. I was a fish out of water.
It was interesting; my score on all games was far below those of Connor and Allyson with one exception. There was a “DJ” game where you were given visual cues for a rhythm that you had to play out on 4 different color buttons. I womped on that game- beat the computer and everyone else. But then this was a game that related to my background. After all, I was a music major in college.
So, why the differences? My kids are digital natives. This is their world and this is their game. They are used to learning in this environment and therefore were quick in picking up on the visual cues that allowed them to learn the object of each game. I on the other hand, had not grown up in this environment. I learn by the more “traditional” methods- reading and lecture. I found myself actively looking for the object of each game and trying to analyze the visual clues. My kids however, were much better at this as this is one of their best methods of learning.
So now the question, should we make school like a video game? After all, this is the world of our kids today.