Today my 5-year old daughter asked me, after a visit to the nearby swimming hall, why the showers stop working while people are still in them and suggested that we should build showers that work only when someone is under them. It would save water too.

So I asked her, how she would build one. "We could put in pressure plates", she exclaimed! Walking home, we found other solutions too, including some scary ones (cameras in the shower).

And this is why I encourage her to play games (like Minecraft). Not because it improves problem-solving skills, but because complex games teach that the world is malleable. If you know the rules, you can play outside them. You don't have to just accepts things as they are: you can always go fix things. Games throw obstacles in your path, whereas the life of a sheltered western kid in a modern welfare society is pretty much a level grass field. Games reward creative solutions, and failing is cheap - you can go try things as many times as you like. Play is practice.

The difficulty, as always, is at the border of virtual and real: When to move the theory into practice? When to stop brainstorming and start working? When do you play, and when do you go all serious? How do you transform the lessons from play into the real world, and how do you turn your real-life experiences into play? We need to cross the grey area between these two all the time: The playtime to dip into our creativity, and the serious time to ship stuff. I believe that a lot of conflict in project work comes from a common lack of understanding where this border lies, and it seems to be a common source of conflict between parents and children as well.

But while I'm trying to grasp this stuff, I'm going to join my kids in their Minecraft world. If they don't kill me outright, I might learn something new.


I tried to play it, but it didn't work for me, despite the efforts of my daughters explaining it to me. What I also like is when the kids are playing together on a server (easy to set up as a Java dev). Building stuff together, solving conflicts when someone destroys stuff. I think my older daughter has potential as a BOFH ;)

--Chrisg, 22-Apr-2016

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"Main_blogentry_160416_1" last changed on 16-Apr-2016 14:55:22 EEST by JanneJalkanen.

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