For Christmas we bought the boy Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii.
It is the first modern computer game we’ve had for a while. Our last console was the PS1 and although we have had the Wii for a few months, we persevered with Wii sports.
Now I’m starting to appreciate just what astounding creations modern games have become.
You can get a look at the gameplay here. What impresses me is that the game asks an awful lot of the player.
One level I have completed consists of a cylinder hanging in space (there is a pic of it on the official site labeled ‘moves’). The cylinder has a transparent surface, which immediately presents a puzzle as the player tries to figure out how to get inside it! When you are running on the surface of the cylinder, gravity pulls towards the center of the object. Once you enter the cylinder, gravity pulls towards its floor, but varies in certain zones with color coding and glyphs indicating the direction of its pull. That’s a lot to figure out and frankly if my kids can solve that kind of puzzle, master the spatial orientation challenges, decipher the glyphs and finish the level I imagine it can only be good for them.
That’s not to say they’ll get to do it all day. We’re not going to have the Wii raise the kids or substitute for other play.
But it sure seems to me that there is a role for games in their overall development that exceeds the entertainment and developmental niche I had previously imagined they would occupy.