One of the most challenging aspects of unschooling for me was letting go of conventional paradigms about gaming, and screen time in general. Paying attention to my children has allowed me to see how enriching much of this activity actually is. Each of the children engages differently with games and screens. E does some gaming, but mostly uses his computer for researching and writing. C likes to play certain games, such as Roblox and Minecraft, particularly if she can play with her brothers. D is an avid gamer and hopes to have a career in game design. He's also become knowledgeable in all aspects of game play, game design and the industry in general.
I thought it would be interesting to take a look at gaming from D's perspective. So here's a little interview we did this morning.
Me: What kind of game do you most enjoy? D: The genre of the game isn't as important to me as what the game itself is like. So, it depends more on the quality of the game and how well it's made. Sometimes I'll find a game in a genre that I don't like, but it's so well thought out that I enjoy it. I play on PC, which has some advantages. You can replace out-of-date software and graphics cards. I think there are more games available for PC too.
What are you playing right now? The Assassins Creed franchise. I like the storyline. Although it's fantasy, it's based on the real holy order of the Assassins, or Nizari Ismails in the Middle East, which is really interesting. I also really like the way you can move in the game—you can run up walls and jump across rooftops.
Do you think gaming helps build certain skills? Some games are highly strategic and you have to look at a lot of things before you decide what to do. Other skills you build are collaboration, hand-eye coordination and quick thinking. Some games also have a lot of reading, geography and history. Of course, gaming also just makes you better at gaming, and since the industry is getting bigger all the time, that's good too.
I want to develop a game on PC. There are three technologies I like for game design, which are Unreal Engine, Cry Engine and Unity. My favourite one is Unity. Once you have the basics they're quite easy to use for creating games.
How does it feel when you're immersed in a game? It's much more active than watching TV. It's like being part of a book or a film that you can control yourself. You have to think all the time about what you're doing because you really care about what happens. It feels very realistic. Strategy games require the most focus.
I think that games can be considered a form of art, just like film or books. Not every game, like obviously not Candy Crush for example. But in many the storyline and the animation are as creative as in anything else that people call art.
What do you think the future of gaming will be like? I think we're going to have big advances in VR technology and capabilities. Graphics and so on will get better and better. Maybe consoles will reach the same capacity as computers, or maybe not. When the great video game crash happened (in 1983), the industry was doing really well, then they made a crucial mistake. They chose quantity over quality and churned out lots of terrible games. People lost confidence in consoles and moved to PC.
What would you say to parents who are worried about their children's gaming? They should try to learn what the games are about. Even better, they could sit with their child and play with them. That way they'll understand better what their child is enjoying. If they still don't like the game, their child will respect their decision more because they've taken the time to understand.
If you were a parent, is there anything that would worry you? My only worry would be that my children didn't like gaming :-)