This is not going to be a list of favorite toys or a top ten of toys and games that you obligatory need to buy for your kids. Rather, I just want to share some of my thoughts on the subject of toys and games as such.
When I was a kid we didn’t have that many toys available. We had enough; there was never really a shortage, don’t get me wrong. However, if we compare the offer on the market of 30 years ago and now, it is obvious that this part of entertainment industry grew significantly. Toys and games available today are amazing! Even as a grown-up person you look at all those fantastic things – bright, interesting, and captivating – and your first reaction is to put all of them in your shopping basket because your “kid undoubtedly needs them”. If you have an infant or a toddler what frequently happens next is that your home becomes cluttered while your happy kid is playing with a saucepan in the kitchen instead… Recognizable? I bet. Moreover, the rhetorical question is: am I buying all those things for my kids or for myself?
I already told before that, however ridiculous that might sound, I like playing with Lego blocks. Somehow I find this activity relaxing and allowing me to meditate . Another “meditating” activity is solving jigsaw puzzles. One of the problems with both is: you need a lot of them! Moreover, these lots and lots of small pieces can easily accumulate. Given that I prefer de-cluttering and minimalism for me this is a big problem. The possible solution for Lego is having that one big box where everything fits in and which can (and should!) be put away and is available to use in a selected zone only. For puzzles there are some online jigsaw puzzle websites like e.g. JS puzzles that offer you the joy of playing your favorite game without cluttering your home. It even offers you the possibility to upload your own picture, turn that into a puzzle and define your own quantity of pieces.
And that brings me from the real world of toys to the virtual world of games (I’ll skip classic board games this time). Speaking about games in general, they develop rapidly. When I was a kid it was just the beginning of Nintendo gaming consoles attached to a TV. If you are in your 30s you probably remember those yellow plastic cartridges (every teenager’s treasure!). Then first computer games with rudimentary graphic interface. And then step-by-step your PC had to be upgraded significantly to sustain the requirements of yet another new and fascinating game. And what do we have now?! That insane Pokémon Go thing – an augmented reality, blending real world and fantasy world even without the need for special goggles or stuff like that. If you follow me on Instagram you know that I have downloaded that thing to understand what the world is going crazy about this time, caught a Drowzee sitting on the box in my living room and… deleted the App. I understand it’s “coolness” but personally I don’t want to kill my time on that and I have quite some questions about the use of data (tracking people walking around with their cameras on…). But ok.
For me gaming stopped at Civilization and Warcraft (that ancient version of it available in 2003-2004). Back then I spent hours and hours building my villages and developing strategies. At one point in time I realized that I was addicted to playing, that I spend way too much time on it and that I am losing out on so many other exciting things. The next moment I uninstalled everything and never regretted. Nevertheless, I cannot help but wonder if some of the modern games are actually worth the time spent?…
To conclude, we cannot deny that gaming is a part of modern culture, so whether we like it or not, whether we participate in the madness or stay out of it, the phenomenon remains. There is a couple of things I am wondering about in connection with gaming.
First, what is going to be next? More augmented reality games? Removing even the smartphone as intermediary?
Second question is about the applicability. Is gaming going to remain a part of entertainment industry or is it going to transcend its borders? Will online games ever be integrated in the general study curricula for example? I believe that the complexity and technical possibilities already present provide enormous potential for learning, yet are we ready to embrace it? Also are online games the true social networks of tomorrow? Are we all going to be playing?
Finally, third, how are we going to deal with the addiction to games, especially the games of the future? Should we? And in fact – can we?…
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