Monday, March 28, 2011

The Games People Play

Go directly to Jail. Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.


This morning while looking at a sleeping dog, who got me up at 4am, drinking my coffee, the newscaster came on talking about the bathing suit sold by Abercrombe and Fitch. Now my mind doesn't stay on one topic very long. No, it takes off into unexplored territory at unexpected moments. This was one of those moments. This is not about responsible manufacturers.

This is about what we teach our children. This is about games. Now don't get excited. I don't intend to slam games, but I am wondering what we teach through these games. Yes, they are harmless, but what do they say to the child?

I have played Monopoly my entire life. I guess I learned that I could get rich if I bought property and could drive others to poverty. I learned that going to jail was as easy as a card telling me I needed to go there. There are games that tell you that you can get rich fast if you go to college. You have to pay off your debt, but that's as easy as moving down the road. Most games allow the player to knock another player back home if the pawn is in the wrong place. Games. We all play them without thinking of the lessons they teach.

I love the Cranium games. My favorite is Balloon Lagoon. The game is fun, fast moving and no one goes to jail. Games like Scattergories makes you think quickly. Some games like Apples to Apples calls for creative thinking....and lying. Games. They don't really harm. But maybe some of them do not teach the correct things.

Then there are video games. The Wii games my grandkids play are fun and none threatening. Most require an amount of skill, and all usually lead to a lot of giggling. Yet, I see violent games advertised on TV. Games that show bullying and violence. What are they teaching? Why do adults sit for hours playing them?

I'm not sure what I'm trying to say here. We love to play games. There is always a winner, but we try to focus on the fun of the game. The time for family gathering around making memories if priceless. Still we have a responsibility and opportunity to teach through these games. Children are sponges. They assimilate everything. It is the processing of that information that might need clarification and understanding. Adults need to be vigilant.

"It's not about winning." No, sometimes its about teamwork. Sometimes it's about skill. Sometimes it's about luck. Every time it is about adults being responsible for what is put before the child.

The games people play can often be the games that affect life.

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