By JasonR86 14 Comments
So I have a nephew who is just over 2 years old. It seems like every time I see him he's a little different because he's constantly learning so much so quickly. Plus that learning is usually a culmination of several different things all coming together to form one whole. So it's rare for me to see him not only learn something but to see him learn it from a direct interaction with a specific thing.
Well yesterday I finally got to see such learning take place. My sister has added a few game to her i-phone so that my nephew can play with them. What he likes to do is take the phone to someone and play two games with that person; Angry Birds Space and Temple Run. Yesterday was my turn to play those games with him.
So he ran over to me phone in hand, jumped on to the couch next to me, plopped the phone in my hands, and urged me to play. The first game we played was Angry Birds. He pulled up a level that he knew how to beat and showed me. Then he got a level he couldn't beat and couldn't figure what to do. All of the level prior to this new level required him to shot the bird left to right and didn't rely too much on gravity from other planets. This new level required him to shot right to left and use a planet's gravitational pull to whip the bird around the planet to hit the pigs. His problem was he kept shooting left to right. So I showed him the concept of shooting right to left and using gravity (by doing it myself with one of our birds). Once he saw me do it he figured it out and then, in subsequent levels, applied shooting in all direction and gravity to hit the pigs. It was amazing. One simple example was all he needed to grasp a pretty complex concept for such a young kid.
He then pulled up Temple Run. Basically he knew how to jump but he didn't know how to slide or turn left and right. He also didn't have the timing down at all. He just kept jumping over and over. So I showed how to jump, slide, and turn left and right and associated those actions with words ('up', 'down', 'left', 'right'). I then gave him the phone back and, as he played, said the words with the right timing so that he could react appropriately. He got it right away. He had to act pretty fast too and he did it really well. Then I stopped speaking and he kept progressing through the game with his newly attuned timing.
What was the coolest thing about this experience was seeing how much fun he had while he was learning at the same time. Plus we got to spend time together which we both liked. I've been playing games for a long time. I was playing the Colecovision when I was not that much older then my nephew. So I know that they have had an effect on how I think and perceive the world. But this was the first time that that correlation was made so explicitly clear to me. It was also great to see how much fun these games can be. I think that as I've gotten older I've taken games more and more seriously. Which is fine and I'm happy that the medium has grown to such a degree that I can do so. But it's kind of nice to remember that games can also be a ton of fun too. I guess I just needed a 2 year old to remind me of these things.