I have wanted to post this screenshot for a while, because it has been really illuminating for me in a few ways.
I logged in one morning to work on Arago, my 8 year old son’s DK, and this is what I found. Arago was mounted, next to this NPC in Icecrown, so that my son could see the two of them, mounted on the same mount, with their identical weapons next to each other.
Do you typically notice this kind of detail in the game?
I don’t. I tend to see the game as a broad brushstroke landscape, perhaps with my level of detail perception being slightly more focused than an impressionistic painting. I see, and appreciate a fair amount of details, but nothing like my son.
He has played the game since he was 4. First he sat on my lap and constantly toggled over to the map wherever Goldslipper (my character) went. Later, with his own characters, he began to explore, first walking through safe areas, then riding, and then eventually flying (as soon as I could earn him the gold for his training and mounts). We have probably about 20 DK’s with their basic OL mounts, so you can get an idea where I’ve spent a lot of time
He knows more about the landscape, NPC’s, loot tables and other details of the game than I ever will. If I have a question about how to get somewhere, or where something is, I can often ask him.
I tend to focus on the typical objectives of the game, such as experiencing content in a somewhat linear fashion, improving my ability to play my class (and there is SO much improving to be done, heehee), chatting with friends (endlessly and annoyingly so, to my son /smile).
He, on the other hand, plays in a completely non-linear fashion, stopping constantly to investigate things, interacting with landscape items in playful ways, changing his plan of what to do many times during a play session, and exploring exploring exploring randomly at all times.
This orientation to minute visual details is consistent across all the things that he does. Whether its needing to figure out how to use a particular texture pack in Minecraft, so he can have his sword look EXACTLY right, or getting a particular Lego set, because it has a particular piece (and often, it is a tiny accessory piece, rather than the main part of the set), there is always this focus on the tiny little details and appearances of things. He even has strong reactions to things he doesn’t like the visual appearance of.
Certainly some of this is due to age, of course. Children are far more visually tuned than adults, and toy packaging and advertising help with this too. I also realize that as an adult, I am more mature and practical, so that is why I tend to focus more on the linear, achievement-based sort of game activities.
Some of it may also be due to special circumstances that are unique to our family. We homeschool our children in a style called Unschooling, which doesn’t prescribe learning certain things on a set schedule. The learning is child-led, and driven by their interests. Often, children that learn in this way will take up reading at a much later age than schooled kids. We’ve seen it with other families, and also with our older children. There is very little focus on structured, lengthy reading until around 10/11, and then it blossoms rapidly, with the kids reading chapter books shortly thereafter and easily matching their peers capabilities.
This learning approach offers them something unique, which is the ability to choose how they take in information. Once we (humans) begin reading, it is impossible to ignore written media, and so it tends (I think) to become our primary source of information gathering. However, if we are not so tuned into the text at all times, our minds can choose their own pathway for getting what they need. We noticed that all three of our children were very visual. It may have to do with their dad being a former designer, but it also may have something to do with the learning approach as well, offering them more time to strengthen visual information gathering vs. text-based information gathering.
In the end, though, it may just come down to him being a fairly visual learner, outside of the other factors. Learning experts recognize that some folks are auditory learners, some visual, some kinesthetic (needing to have manual/physical interaction with things to learn optimally).
Before this image, I knew that *something* caused him to be laser focused on certain things, but this really helps me to “get it” at a level I haven’t before.
I feel like understanding ourselves…our unique abilities and strength areas, what we do well (and what we do poorly), what kind of environments drain our energy and which we thrive in, can be very powerful in helping to find our way in life. This kind of information can help identify career paths, lifestyle, and all other kinds of choices. He’s only 8, of course, so I’m not expecting him to have any sort of career or other life path mapped out yet, but if we can help by being aware along the way while he is maturing and beginning to make choices, it might be helpful.
For today, I have another resource to add to my parental toolbox. I can learn more about the visual learning style, and make sure we are providing our son with as many opportunities as we can for visual exploration.
Also, I can learn to stop and enjoy the visual details more myself, which may enhance my game time, and life in general.
All this from a little screenshot… pretty crazy, huh?
How do you perceive the game? Is it in a visual way? How does it affect your play (what you do, how you do it, etc.)? Are you aware of your learning style or how you process information, and how has it influenced your life?
Please feel free to comment below, and thanks for reading!