Saturday, November 3, 2007

When one boy plays video games... he finds inspiration


One of my students, Peter, a sophomore at Stuyvesant High School, has the coolest approach to writing:

As he plays a video game (I would imagine in 7 hour stints at least), something magical (or creative) happens: Within moments, characterological motives, personal histories, and superhuman powers begin to emerge in his mind, and before long he finds himself thoroughly immersed in the emotional ramifications of the game, and ultimately in front of a computer screen banging out his 86th sci-fi story of the year.

Peter's stories are dynamic, deep, and of course, action-packed. Since middle school, he has won multiple awards from Scholastic's Art & Writing event for his writing.

But of course Peter's experience raises some highly unpopular but interesting questions about the value of video game playing: Can some video games (violent ones included) sometimes play a positive role in inspiring the minds of youth? Can they transcend their insidious time-wasting, violence-encouraging, obesity-making, inclinations?

Based on Peter's experience, I think they can sometimes. And, then, his experience made me think of my own... back in the early 1980's...

I remember playing (um, 25 years ago) Atari's primitive Adventure game of dragons, swords, challises, and invisible mazes for hours on end. And I remember spending even more time afterwards hunting down huge pieces of paper throughout my apartment in order to map out my character's escape route through the game's mazes... Once I had my tools, I covered my entire living room floor with the blank canvass and began drawing. Finally, I remember triumphantly standing to view the final product.

While games may be culprit to untold social pathologies, let us acknowledge that games also seem to lend themselves to more interactive imaginative play than they are typically given credit for.

In any case, video game playing certainly has served Peter's writing much good. Not to mention my imaginative play time as a kid, too.

~~Rebecca WS~~

10 comments:

Nico said...

I think that this is as valid a way to think up stories as any other. It is very good to hear the positive side of kids playing video games. Good for you Michael.

Rebecca Segall said...

Peter, not Michael :-)

Nico said...

Sorry Peter. Both great names.

Rebecca Segall said...

LOL, indeed.

rose h. said...

Rebecca, I think any way that you can get your mind working is great, well, barring anything illegal!

Just like I let my kids read - gasp - comic books. Reading is reading and it is all good.

If Peter can get his mind fired up playing a video game, good for him, and good that he has discovered this at such an early age.

Rosemarie said...

Oops! I was not logged in as the blogger me!

loonyhiker said...

I think as teachers we need to keep an open mind in order to find things that will motivate our students. This is a great example of why we should encourage our students to search for different avenues than just what is expected from them.

Lily said...

I personally like an MMORPG which i play a few times a month. I have also found that fantasy and strategy-oriented games can spark creativety, and they have also given me more than one idea for some sort of sci-fi story--although i have never put them into writing. Its a very cool way to gain insight and inspiration for a piece of writing, and also a fun activity in case writers block should strike...:)

ms. whatsit said...

This is an interesting approach. I recently attended a seminar led by David Warlick who discussed technology and learning. He spent a great deal of time talking about video games. I bet he would find this post interesting.

DanaB205 said...

"loonyhiker said...

I think as teachers we need to keep an open mind in order to find things that will motivate our students. This is a great example of why we should encourage our students to search for different avenues than just what is expected from them."

I think this is a great point, and this post proves this. I think it is very important to constantly try bridging gaps between what a student would consider "fun" from what is "work." If the two can be combined, the student would be much more likely to put more work into their assignments. Also, by playing the video game and using that as a trigger for writing, it offers an alternative learning style for students to better grasp how to effectively do something.