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Fitting In Through Play

Some thoughts about how vital the act of play is in the context of fitting in socially, take for example in school.

Old class picture

I find it interesting to contemplate whether or not games (in the broadest sense) are invaluable tools to teach people skills in fitting in.

As gamers trying out new games, we often stumble upon communities with prominent "cultures".

Sometimes it's just the basics we're working on, like learning the rules of baseball, golf or the like.

I'm wondering what game concepts, if any, train players to be especially good at picking up rules (and norms) in order to interact smoothly. 

During high school I got to read a short story that didn't affect me too much back then, but recently the memory of it resurfaced.

Of course I've hopelessly forgotten the title of it, and despite my best efforts to google I've failed to retrieve it. Regardless I would like to write about it still, here's a small synopsis.

The story is about a kid, around 8 perhaps, who's recently moved to a new school in a new country. His parents are concerned about whether or not he'll be able to smootly fit in. Days pass on by, and the parents are told that their kid still stands by himself in the school yard. Their kid just seemed to watch the other kids. One day a stray ball fall close to his feet. He reaches down, picks it up and jumps into the game as it was the most natural thing in the world. Unbeknownst to his parents and teachers he'd been learning the rules of the kids' games so he could interact with them. 

If anybody recognises this short story, please leave a comment about it. :)

Writing about this short story makes me thing about what happens when animals are introduced to new flocks. There's a period of habituating, and then the interaction flows naturally.

Similarly I experienced a period of bewilderment as a World of Warcraft - newbie. Words and expressions had to be learned and a certain etiquette adapted.

And I think this goes for all sorts of games. When playing Risk with some friends one doesn't know that well, the question of "house rules" might come up. Even though Risk has defined laws (rules), there are also often norms (house rules). 

Being good at picking up not only the defined rules, but also the implisitt rules of interaction is invaluable for people in general. There's not so much a difference between entering a new school yard, to entering a new work place. Rules and norms need to be learnt in order to interact more smoothly. 

Hope to explore this more in the future.

Regards Nils N. Haukås

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