As a geek who loves video games, role-playing games, and LEGO, I’ve had the accusation thrown at me many times: “why, you never grew up, did you?” Usually it’s an affectionate taunt, but it still carries the cultural baggage of the idea that one must “put away childish things” to become a grown-up. I disagree. I think we’ve reached a place where the idea that when you become an adult, you’re not allowed to play anymore, is finally fading away.
We can all look back on the stereotypical families of times gone by, where the children played with their toys, and the adults had their hobbies or bridge games, and never the twain would meet. But then the video game consoles came along, and something changed. Sure, at first the consoles - the Ataris and Nintendos were still bought for the kids. But those kids (me included) got older and older, and the consoles kept getting better and better, and we kept on playing.
Maybe it has something to do with the rise of “geek culture,” wherein playing games - video, role-playing, or otherwise - has never had an upper age-limit. Maybe we spoiled Generation X-ers just decided that we weren’t going to go gently into that good night of adulthood; that if we were going to be forced to deal with mortgages and careers and families of our own, we were darn-well going to bring the things we loved with us on the ride. Or maybe the cultural zeitgeist just caught up with what we knew all along: playing and having fun is a vital part of a well-lived life, and should not be forgotten.
But the unintended result of all these grown-ups playing is something wonderful: we remain connected to our kids. We retain a connection to their culture, to their sensibilities, that in ages past was often lost. And I like to think, this brings us closer to them, and creates healthier families.
[This post originally ran at Play Report]