POCKET WORLDS VII: PAIDEIA & CHILDLIKE IMAGINATION

Now, as adult men and women, are responsibility is not just to ourselves as individuals, but how we will raise our children. As I have said before, video games have great potential for education and motivation. They draw players into a world with new rules and new experiences that are not possible within our known space and time.

Childhood is an age completely free of actual responsibility. No one goes shelterless when a child doesn’t mow the lawn. No one goes hungry if the laundry isn’t folded–unless that is the punishment for not doing chores! The only responsibility we give to children is to ready them for actual responsibility in the future. It’s theatre for the sake of cultivation and it’s very, very important.

Video games, then, are not just theatre for the sake of cultivation but also creation. Video games do not just shape the mind according to a set of principles, they also fill the heart with story, song, and image. These are the means by which the imagination is formed and empowered. A child’s experiences develop the capacity of a heart to create; video games allow them to have experiences not only far removed from their feet as they gestate safely in the suburbs, but also impossible to experience according to the very bones and boundaries of our universe. And it is because of this that I say that I am blessed to have grown up with video games.

My parents were firm and yet generous. If left to my own electronic devices, I would have only ever played games as a child, endlessly exploring colorful worlds that bizarre and beautiful Japanese minds had created for me. And so I was always restricted in how much I could play before being turned to reading and running and the other very important forms of play to which a child applies himself.

By some miracle–I don’t know if this was the taste of my parents or my older brothers influencing my life, or some innate primordial sense of taste, or an entirely external decree of God pushing me towards the beautiful–but I grew up playing some of the most incredible, vivid, and beautiful games ever created. I dare not advertise them. How could I do them justice in writing? Ask me some time to show them to you, and maybe I’d be able to transmute to you something close to the truth, something close to that deep power.

They came across the sea, and somehow they came to me.

What did that do to my imagination? Instead of shaping it and filling it with violence, apathy, and lust–as I’m sure some games could have done–I attribute to these games no small part in instilling in me a sense of wonder, sweetness, and appreciation of the good. I had worlds in my pocket!

Now all of this is nothing if it is divorced from Christ and from a loving home. I had both of these things to be built upon.

But I had worlds in my pocket! I rejoice to have been given such a gift. I was born too late to explore the world, born to early to explore the universe, but I was born just in time to have worlds to explore right beneath my fingers.

How can I ever express my gratitude?

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