I’m sitting here listening to something amazing. Something that has changed my life and absolutely transformed connections within my family. Something entirely made possible by technology.
I’m sitting here listening to my son and my nephew play a video game together. Little Big Planet 2, to be exact, a fantastic game for kids and grown-ups alike. It’s full of creativity, based on the premise of helping others, and it’s visually stunning to boot. Coolest game ever. If you have kids, work with kids, are a big kid, and you haven’t heard of it or ever seen it, I highly recommend you check it out right away.
So far, there is nothing really remarkable about what I’m saying here. But, the thing is, my son lives with me in British Columbia and his cousin, my nephew, lives halfway across the continent in Manitoba with my brother. The gaming technology allows my son and my brother’s son, who see each other face to face maybe once a year, to play together whenever they want.
I’m listening to my son and my nephew play a video game together online. They are talking strategy and helping each other out as they play. They are, essentially, ‘hanging out’, playing a video game, and building their relationship with each other, all because of online gaming and the amazing technologies that they are fortunate enough to have at hand.
And, to me, especially after my Masters research last year, it’s the effect of the technology on the relationship that is what’s really amazing about what I’m listening to. Technology is enabling my son and my nephew to develop a relationship in a much deeper, relevant and meaningful way than they could ever possibly have otherwise as they are so far apart geographically. Sure, they could talk on the phone, email, video chat, look at the photos emailed back and forth, and they do, but it wasn’t until they started playing that particular video game online together that they really seemed to connect.
They are great friends when they are face to face. The one week or so a year that they see each other is wonderful. They are either the best of friends or they fight like old men who have known each other all their lives. It’s really cute and, for my brother and I, so precious to watch. But it’s also sad that they don’t live closer to each other. It was awful to see the tears and sadness when they have said goodbye in the past.
But I think, the next time they say good-bye, that the tears and sadness will be a little different. First of all, they will have a different, closer bond, next time they meet. I’m interested to see how their relationship is changed due to the shared gaming experience. And, when we go our separate ways, I’m guessing there will be some comment like ‘can you play next Tuesday? I’ll call you when I go online’ to set up the next time they can play. I predict there will be less sadness, more hope, and a stronger connection.
I guess what I’m listening to, then, is technology close the distance and build a bridge of closer connection. That is a worthwhile, transformative use of technology and a valuable way in which online gaming is enriching children’s lives and the bonds within a family. Amazing…