A little bit related to @adamazing ’s response: I would like to share some somewhat jumbled thoughts I’ve been having regarding the relation of “childishness” to video games ever since I saw this thread a few days ago.
An archetype that is often associated with video games and comics is the “man-child” or “fan-boy.” This is someone who (speaking broadly here) is obsessed with the Intellectual Properties that they connected with as children. This obsession becomes perverted through adulthood into a sort of “brand loyalty.” It’s kind of like how sports fans, as they grow up, stop idolizing players and teams, and start becoming interested in the business side and/or the history of the sport. It feels like a more “grown-up” way of engaging with the hobby.
However, I think there’s something to be said about engaging childishly. Kids don’t obsess over characters because they have fond memories of enjoying that character. They obsess because that character is in front of them Right Now, and they look cool/funny, or they are relatable in some other way.
An example: I liked Mario as a kid, because he says “Wa hoo!” and he looks funny. He’s a funny guy! I still like Mario, for those same reasons. Sure, I’ve been playing 3D Mario games my whole life, but you could probably erase all my Mario-related memories, show me a video of Mario saying “Wa hoo!” and I would find him to be an endearing character. I boot up a new Mario game and I don’t think, “ah, it’s memories of my childhood.” I think, “Wa hoooo!”
Great artists are often those who embrace such “childish” notions as imagination. They play around when making stories, or painting pictures. It’s not just fun and games, obviously - but there has to be some fun and games! My favourite author is Herman Melville. He writes books in a serious way. He writes books with a philosophical bent. But also, they’re hilarious! And you can tell that he has a great time constructing his sentences. Also, he loved wandering around his farm watching cows eat.
Do you know what I mean? I understand what Azurelore was saying, but to also reference @tapevulture , I don’t think that gaming necessarily means “gambling,” as much as it means, “playing.” Sure, business people see everything as gambling, but (in my fantasy world that I live in) creators see games as play. Playing does not mean that games are totally inane and fatuous. Playing can be serious. Philosophizing is playing. Theatre is playing.
When I was a kid, I played Ocarina of Time on my N64. Then, I went outside and I played Zelda with my friends. One of us would grab a jump rope or something, and we would be a “boss,” and the other person would be Link, and they would have to come up with some creative way to defeat the boss. That type of game, it really encourages the imagination! And imagination is creativity, and etc etc! And I’m not saying here that it’s because the graphics weren’t life-like and so we had to imagine it. We thought those graphics were Real! But the world and the mechanics were so engaging that we wanted to explore it ourselves in our own minds.
So, I don’t think the mechanics of games have to “teach” kids about the real world, or anything. I think encouraging the imagination is the most important thing. Maybe I’m a hippy dippy crazy guy, I don’t know.
I remember as a teenager I played Assassin’s Creed 2. Assassins’ Creed 2 had some sort of mechanic (or maybe this was Brotherhood) where you put your money in a bank, and then the money would turn into more money. I think the money increased faster, the more of a collectible you had. That’s some wicked shit. As a teen, I saw that and I thought, “So that’s how the economy works, huh.” And you know what, I realize now that for some people, that’s how the economy does work! If you’ve got the money you just hide it away, and bam! More money!
But that’s not really the point. That mechanic just feels so insidious to me. I don’t know why they put that in there. All this “number goes up when you do nothing” stuff. Now that’s gambling. That’s just gambling but without even any risk. It’s just fluffy dopamine nothing. You know? That sucks.
I’m not gonna say “back in my day games didn’t have that!” You know, I know I’m only talking about Nintendo here, but god dang Breath of the Wild is a game that might make a kid crazy in the same way Ocarina of Time made me crazy. And I mean that in a good way! A giant, imaginative world with so much to explore, a sparse story that leaves itself rife for personal storytelling (the adult version of this being fan-fiction). That’s great stuff.
I really think that playing games as a kid helped me become a more inquisitive person. The 3d explore-y games I loved encouraged me to explore around my own world. It encouraged me to look at life in a different way and enjoy the playing of it. I think games are capable of so much, and I love them for that.
I think embracing “childishness” is an important part of life. Playing around does not have to be mindless. Games don’t have to be stupid to be good, but they also don’t have to be serious to be good. Many AAA games seem to ride a line between stupid and serious while rarely ever reaping the benefits of either.
I apologize for writing so much. This thread is full of good ideas. I am only talking about a very specific aspect, and I’m not even sure if I’m talking about what I think I’m talking about.