People make a lot of fuss over online games being a waste of time. I figure at least most of them aren’t a waste of time unless too much time is spent on them, or time is spent on them that wouldn’t better serve the player in some other kind of activity — perhaps one that would better meet the same need(s) — at that particular time. After all, aside from the medium, how are online games so different from other kinds of games children play? Oh, the specific pros and cons can be held against those of other kinds of game-playing, from different angles, sure. At the same time, many of the same kinds of general arguments can be made for and against the playing of everything from board games to dress-up to tag to… You know what? Humans are the only animals that second-guess the value of play.
Anyway. I’m not making a very thorough or organized argument, but then, I’m still recovering my spoons from the same family gathering Ash was given more allowance to tune out.
What I wanted to mention here was one specific game that Ash has occasionally taken up recently, and the benefits thereof. The game is the particular free version of Mah Jong solitaire found HERE. We keep the sound off on the computer when it is played, because otherwise you have to keep setting the annoying music and tile-clicking sound effects to be off each time you start a new game, but otherwise it’s a pretty reliable version, with a number of options when it comes to pre-set and editable layouts as well as tile set styles. What are the skills developed by this particular game-play? Ash must exercise fine motor control (with no tangibility to the causal results, either), the distinguishing of three-dimensionality represented in a two-dimensional image, the processing of visual distinctions within a distracting visual field, the ability to find matches among unfamiliar forms, the ability to identify likely sets of non-matching forms, and strategic planning. Beyond this, care of the option of changing tile layout as well as style, Ash must apply the rules and adapt the methods learned during one game, to another that might appear to be extremely different, even if going by the same name.
That’s really not bad, for just one game, eh?