Video games and the consequences of failure

It is with deep incredulity that my family talks about my college independent study in game theory. It was way cool, but pretty out of character given my deep dislike of games in general.

Donkey Kong I am also terrible at video games. Maybe it’s an eye hand coordination problem but I couldn’t even make the Donkey Kong jump in the right places. I could, however, play Dr. Mario with complete disregard for everything else going on around me. Heck, I could even play that in my sleep. I’d watch those pills keep dropping for hours. (It is true: You shouldn’t play video games, even solitaire, right before bed. Keeps your brain fired up when it should be slowing down. Read a boring magazine instead!)

However, I am so tired of people, parents mostly, complaining that video games killed play time or that video games made a kid commit unspeakable violence. If your kids can’t tell the difference between video games and reality, then you have a much bigger problem than thinking the games are making him do it.

But I digress.

I was tickled to find that librarians are being encouraged to play video games or at least to acknowledge that people who do play video games view the help desk differently. is an online source for news, opinion and jobs for all of higher education. The June 25 article reported on the annual meeting of the American Library Association.

Ever watch a little kid with a new video game? Notice him furiously reading the directions first? Na.. didn’t think so.

“With video games, ‘you can play while you are inept,’” said James Paul Gee, the author of Why Video Games Are Good for Your Soul , You can poke around in a video game. Try the same things in different orders and get different results (Or, so I’ve heard). Gee also said there are “lowered consequences of failure.”

I remember my engineer husband’s frustration when my geek son first started tinkering with the insides of computers. “HE DIDN’T READ THE INSTRUCTIONS! He doesn’t understand circuit theory.”

Says the kid, “Don’t worry, Dad. They’re designed to only go in one way!”

On demand learning is a very powerful thing.

Maybe it really doesn’t matter if you know all the rules before you jump in. In fact, what if waiting until you have all the information just keeps you from getting started.

So start now; or start over. Click AA,BB, jump, jump in a different place, see what happens.

If there is no blood, you can always change your mind.