Digital Playgrounds


Gaming is a serious business. This is not to refer to the international contests for gamers to win considerable prize money or the huge communities in game play and -development (1). Gaming is not for geeks anymore; it has grown into a widespread, common leisure activity for all to participate in. Actually, it is more than a way to pass the time, or get into contacts with other gamers, for instance through massively multiplayer online role-playing games, MMORPG’s (1). Above all, it is to enter a world of meaning giving and self-discovery. In interaction with a game play a lot is learned about oneself: on handling stress, persistence, ability, shrewdness, and so forth. Almost the real thing, so it would seem, but is it? We are passed the debate on whether gaming can be educative; it is (2) . In fact, gaming can be considered as an activity in identity formation. By creating virtual self’s, gaming opens up ways to reflect about oneself and discover insights in journeys undertaken through the quests offered in a game. As such it is a practice of becoming a person.
An interesting article discusses the issue whether gaming blurs the distinction between the inside and outside, between control in gaming and agency in reality. We all are aware of frightening occurrences that reach us through the news where such a distinction has failed, and an isolated person committed a act of cruelty (3). The position paper proposed we welcome the digital opportunity of gaming to discover identity and “the transformative power of digital agency and production, the heightened consciousness of human relationality, and the ritualized and reflective practice of gaming”.

Gaming is here to stay, gaining in reality resemblance. The interaction between a gamer and virtual contexts offered increasingly will become more sophisticated. But that does not mean the gamer will become a more moral, reflective, relational person or have a “polyphonic digital identity” (as mentioned in article). The thing with games is that they provide contexts (“worlds”) to play in, but no contesting of (moral) choices made. There is no ‘other’ as a real person to question and challenge game experiences. A gamer remains a tragic hero. It is not like a playground at the schoolyard where there is interactional modification (by peers or supervision). It would be great to add that to game play.

This article: Karen-Marie Yust (2015) Digital play as a spiritually formative activity, International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 20:2, 129-138, DOI:10.1080/1364436X.2015.1055459
To link to this article:

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One thought on “Digital Playgrounds

  1. Gert van der Westhuizen 11/02/2015 / 7:48 PM

    This is spot on – seeing that the gaming industry is so much bigger than the Hollywood film industry!



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