347 words — 2 minutes read

60 - life - game - video

Everyone with a teenage son will know that this species spends an incredible amount of time in front of game consoles and computers if left to their own devices. I don’t want to go into the fights we have with our son about his excessive use of electronics (after all, I am guilty of too much electronics myself). One thing however, that I have absolutely no understanding for - and that surprised me, when I found out is the following:

Often, my son, instead of playing, watches Youtube videos of other people playing. Today he came down and said that he’d watched a 5 hour play through (speed run) of “The Occarina of Time”. I have also seen him watching Minecraft playing. I totally fail to understand this.

A game is in may ways a simulation of one (or more) aspect(s) of life. If I remember correctly, Raph Koster wrote about that in his wonderful book “A theory of fun” . While playing a game, the player interacts with situations and tries to build a cognitive model of the game world. and what is needed to solve the specific challenge posed by the games designers. Just watching someone else play a game (and in the case of the mentioned speed run, a rehearsed play through without the exploratory parts of game play) deprives the watcher from the most important (and fun) part of play. In my opinion, just watching someone else play is a complete waste of time (probably even worse than sitting in front of the TV during the afternoon programme)

Playing a game like Minecraft is all about interacting with an open world, and building, creating in an open world. Playing an adventure like “Occarina of time” draws the player into the puzzles and story, forces him to explore. Watching it, instad of playing it - is such a sad simulacra of what playing a game could be.

(And no, my son also spends time playing - I would say it’s about 50:50 of time)

Am I the only one experiencing this with my kids?

Jens-Christian Fischer

Maker. Musician