Can great progress come from playing games? It's a pleasant conceit, and forms the basis of some enjoyable fiction: a kid who seems to be wasting time turns out to be honing some deep, fortuitously critical skill ... and is selected to go forth as a hero and Save the World(s).

But it's a mere fantasy, and potentially quite a damaging one. What's more likely, based on all of human experience, is that worthwhile advances will come not from playing games --- but through dedication and extended thinking and wrestling with tough problems and creative collaboration and hard work, on timescales of many years. That's not a pretty picture for those of us who dream of magic ... but on the brighter side, take a look at all the nifty math and science and literature and engineering and art that we've got, after only a few millennia of sweat!

And there are occasional stories about the flip side, though they tend not to be best-sellers. (Wonder why?) Remember the Asimov tale about the rediscovery of long division in an over-computerized future? Or the '50s SF yarn about a kid who apparently was an utterly learning-disabled failure, got thrown out of the standard fun-and-games hypermedia-training curriculum, and had to study from books (gasp!) and work out hard problems by hand (ugh!) --- only to much later find out that he was one of the happy few who had the potential to actually discover something new? It's not easy to make such a story be dramatic and exciting. Too bad...

Wednesday, March 21, 2001 at 05:40:34 (EST) = 2001-03-21

TopicThinking - TopicWriting

(correlates: GoodNotation, InvisibleWriting, HiStory, ...)