The Importance of choices

[You can enjoy this article in less than 5 minutes ... but digest its contents, certainly will require much more time]

As a gamer and games expert, thinking about how much the game (and play) can teach children and adults I’m always surprised when I discover that in our society (and for most people) “game” is often synonymous with “lottery” or “gambling”. So we hear that “The game is bad” or an invitation to “play with moderation” or other such things.

I am even more surprised and disappointed when I find out that schools, authorities, institutions or companies “enlightened” who decide to use the game as a vehicle for promoting content at the end often realize products that are nothing more than the revisiting of the game ‘snakes & ladders” believing that the only value of a game are the contents it carries and not the game and the play itself. I think, for example, “An adventure with Tango” by Greenpeace, to show a case in point.

You can really call playing roll a die, move on a fixed course, end on a box and see / read what’s going on? What role does the player? What is the difference between this “play” and watch television? I can understand for a child of 4-5 years which need to be taught basic math, and compliance with the rules of the turn (also for that age you really can offer much more to theyr minds), but already with a child of 6 years inviting him to “play” to something where there is no choice is insulting his intelligence.

In your opinion is really great the distance between snakes & ladders and the slot machines? In my opinion, it is minimal: do not choose, but look at the effects of my fortune: in both games you are a passive spectator and the outcome is determined only by chance. In the first of my “luck godness” is a die, i a lever in the second.

Of course there are games where the randomness may enter at different levels but, in my opinion, because a game is that there must be some form of choice by the player, whether it be an expression of a strategy (at best) or simply an assessment of the level of risk to be run.

The game then can not and should not be just a vehicle for contents, but its value, even at the academic level, is the ability to develop strategic and tactical skills: enhance the capacity to make choices in terms of situations and a goals.

And then, in a provocative, asking to abolish the game of the goose and its surrogates from all schools except in early infancy. We assert the right of children (and adults) to a smart game where you can make informed choices!

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