Wanna Play?

by admin published Jun 21, 2017 09:25 AM, last modified Jun 21, 2017 09:22 AM
Sure games are fun. Yet the play that's built into them does not make them false; it makes them psychologically truer even than everyday life. Games can Solve major crises, train war heroes, and civilize us all. What the world needs is not less time for playing games but more.

Psychology Today: Wanna play?
Wanna play?
Looks at how playing games can enhance the psychological aspects of humans, while highlighting a scenario involving Richard Duke. How games can be use to train military personnel; Benefits which can be derived from games; Types of persons which can benefit from games. Sure games are fun. Yet the play that's built into them does not make them false; it makes them psychologically truer even than everyday life. Games can Solve major crises, train war heroes, and civilize us all. What the world needs is not less time for playing games but more.

ONE MORNING in the late 1980s, Richard Duke received a phone call he would later characterize as "somewhat amazing." The call came from the of[ice of the Secretary of Defense, at the behest of the man who had just been appointed Secretary. General Colin Powell was apparently finding himself stymied in his efforts to reorganize his new and notoriously complex department, in particular the coordination of the three service branch bureaucracies. Being an "old war simulation guy himself," he'd directed his staff to contact Duke, professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan, to help solve the problem. Duke knew exactly what the crisis required--playing a game.

At about the same time, coincidentally, I was spending my Wednesday nights sitting on a couch in a psychiatrist's office, trying, not to exorcise my demons, but to devise a board game based on the universe of therapy itself. I ended up on the couch because I was the only nonshrink in the room. At the time, our thinking was fairly linear: how to take certain hallmarks of the therapeutic process and reduce them to a game that would be entertaining and informative.

What we encountered, though, once our game--called Therapy, as it happens--was finished, were two remarkable things, both of which Colin Powell and Richard Duke might have told us. First, of all the professions, psychiatrists and psychologists tended to do worst at the game; secondly, the synthetic process worked even better in reverse. Playing the game expanded people's grasp of human nature in general and their particular group's dynamics. But even more, watching people play revealed a depth of information about them, and about the world at large, that you would ordinarily expect only from months of official therapy.

The more we became immersed in the world of games, the more we realized that games weren't simply revealing and therapeutic by nature; they were terrific tools for informing people about themselves, for getting them back in touch with the world of pure play and even for civilizing them. The idea was remarkable: 25 bucks and a Monopoly game might tell people as much about their own emotional truths as 25 hours on the couch, or 25 volumes of Shakespeare.

'Just' a Game?

In fact, the phrase "just a game" is a masterpiece of cognitive dissonance. Games are anything but "just" anything. They cover the gamut of human endeavor and come in every package and medium you can imagine. Last year in the United States alone, 126 million board-style games were sold for $1.14 billion; video and computer games accounted for another 55 billion. It is impossible to calculate how much people benefit from games:

o Games are primers on turntaking, the basis of all relationships.

o They can solve major crises in industry and teach people not to pilfer pencils from the company storeroom; in fact, companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on them for that.

o They can be training grounds for legendary generals and make the difference between winning and losing wars.

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