As we can all appreciate, the computer and the other devices in that family, have been a blessing and a curse at times. Much as we may enjoy spending a good portion of our time on them ourselves, many of us parents worry about the impact of computer games on our children’s development. We are concerned that allowing our children to spend more than an hour or so each day playing computer games may have an adverse effect on them - even turning them into anti-social beings, obese or perhaps couch potatoes.
We would generally rather have our children engaging in other activities like reading – whether they read or be read to. But the reality is, computers are not going anywhere anytime soon. They are here to stay, so rather than rebelling against them, it might be best to find a way to use them to our advantage, especially when it comes to the children.
A common problem that many parents face with computer games is that in comparison to reading or creating a story, they don’t require the use of a lot of imagination.
We have outlined some ways below, in which you can use computer games to foster the development of your child’s creativity.
Your child will be able to play computer games yet still be able to develop their creativity.
Create character profiles
Some computer games have characters. With some of the games, the characters are already well-known and well-developed. With other games, however, the characters may be less developed. This would create the best opportunity for your child to develop the characters further. Your child could invent a profile for the character- from their family to their place of origin, what they do for a living, their hobbies, etc. The possibilities are endless.
These can then be converted into light sketches and short notes of the created character. This could also be done for the other characters within the story.
Computer games are really just interactive stories. So, your child could actually create their own stories using the characters from their favourite computer games. This could be thought of as an extension of the computer game. A great idea would be to have your child pretend that he/she worked for the computer game company and is charged with creating a new version of the computer game.
There are a number of options to tackle this, depending on both of your preferences, but some examples could be to write a script, create cartoon-like illustrations, create illustrated scenes (i.e. pictures) only, or create pictures with accompanying text.
Keep a Diary
In order to fully engage with the characters created, it could be interesting for your child to get inside the head of some of the characters. This would be a great way to develop their thoughts, feelings and actions. This would also go a long way in developing your child’s empathy. Writing a diary as if your child were one of the characters, would be a great way to go.
Create a Virtual World
It’s not uncommon for some of the computer games to allow the players to develop their own virtual world. When you think about it for a moment, there would have to be some planning taking place in order for anyone to come up with a world that works. This is where story development comes into play. It is done in such a playful way that it would hardly occur to your child that what he/she is doing is actually creating a story.
If broken down, the virtual world would need a setting, characters, a plot and other elements that would come together to make their world work. Seeing as it would be their world, they can develop it to whichever level they want – create detailed maps, descriptions of all the creatures, plants with their historical background etc. It could become a project that they become so absorbed in that they don’t realise how much research is being done to achieve it.
Your child’s virtual world can be one that is either an extension from an existing computer game or something completely new.
Your child might be a kinesthetic learner; they learn by doing. If that’s the case, they may have more fun creating 3D models from clay or paper mâché of the characters from a computer game. This activity mustn’t be limited to the screen- the life-sized models can be created in your garden. This could also create more fun as different objects around the house and garden could be used to create the characters, settings, etc.
Create Your Own Computer Game
This would be the ultimate in the creation and development of the story. In the area of computer games, what could be more creative than creating your own game? The steps the companies go through to develop and create computer games wouldn’t be that much different from what has been described above. This means your child could potentially have all of his/her creation culminated into a video game. Now how cool would that be…?
There are so many different types of software tools available, that can be used to create their own games. But it might be an idea to look for the ones that don’t require any coding or advanced computing skills. There are software tools that require pointing and clicking only. Some will also have a library of scenes, 3D objects, and sounds that can be used in different combinations to create their games.
Yes, perhaps not as creative as starting a game from scratch, but let’s remember, it’s not so much about creating a game from scratch as it is about the process and the level of thought that goes into creating a story.
So, even though some parents regard computer games as an “unhealthy” influence on their children when you combine computer games with some of the “offline” child story creation activities described above, you’ll not only allow your child to unleash his/her creative genius, but you all will also have a lot of fun doing it.
This is not to say that computer time should be endless as a result of the above. But it does help explore the different options, especially for children who might find it difficult sitting at a table fiddling with a pen and hoping for ideas to fall from the sky.
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