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Everyone Sees Something Different

Thing03 wasn't watching his brother play with an eye towards how many baddies he killed or how fast he was hitting checkpoints, in fact, the game itself, as the creators intended, had become irrelevant.  

It's interesting what you take away from a game, or a movie.  What you notice, or what you prefer to focus on.  I make so secret of the face that video games and media are firmly integrated into my household.

Rather than attempting to eschew all forms of digital media for my family and children, I am instead attempting to properly integrate it, to use it to it's fullest capacity not only as a source of entertainment, but as a tool for teaching, for opening doors and entering into discussions that we might not otherwise has the chance to touch upon.

My kids are well educated in the forms media takes, in why and how books are different from TV or even movies and why both are important in equally valid ways.  They know that even the most reputable sources, print or otherwise, can be abused and they should always double check their sources.

I use RPGs and games that are heavy on the written instruction to encourage my kids to read and expand their vocabularies.  For every anime series they are involved with there is a related manga, for each movie there is a book.

Storytelling is encouraged, in fact, DrSpaus and Thing01 (so named online because they can get their own darned selves into trouble - they don't need me naming names) have a running space opera they have been working on in verbal storyteller fashion for over four years now.  Unfortunately none of it has been written down, or they might have a viral poscast on their hands.

The end result of all this digital chaos has been an air of remarkable aplomb when media is present.  At a friends house they'd much rather play in the yard than watch a movie, on long road trips, the DVD player stays off for most of the trip.

The outside world is a much more interesting place.  I fear, somewhat, that I may be killing their ability to suspend disbelief.  Thing01 loves to go through GCI movies with me to pick apart FX errors, Thing02 has a talent for deconstructing plot (which often runs to the bizarre I will admit).  Thing03, well he's still little.  He hasn't quite reached the development stage where he can see beyond the magic pictures or the fancy FX.

So imagine my surprise when Thing01 is playing through Modern Warfare 2, and the rest of us are watching (house rule, all video games must be played in the living room and kibitzing and commentary are encouraged).  Thing03 pipes up, right in the middle and shouts "Yellow Car!". And he's right.

There in the background of the environment is a burnt-out yellow taxi.  Noone else in the group "saw" it, or at least, no one saw it and processed it in the context of that tried and true road trip game.  It really got me thinking about perception, about how different minds take way different things from any piece of media.

Thing03 wasn't watching his brother play with an eye towards how many baddies he killed or how fast he was hitting checkpoints, in fact, the game itself, as the creators intended, had become irrelevant.  What he was seeing was an opportunity to one-up the rest of us in a never-ending game of "Yellow Car".

Interestingly enough, this incident has changed the way I look at games and media (for the nonce, at any rate) changed the things I am looking for at any given point in time.  I have a tendency to look beyond the gameplay to solve problems in my own work (how did this designer use the lighting to show the player where to go, how far down did that artist build the LOD meshes, or is it all being guessed at by the engine) but what Thing03 pulled off was even beyond that. 

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