A game for kids...?
by, 09-04-2009 at 02:06 AM (634 Views)
Welcome, BabyDoll1970, to your first ever blog! I warmly welcome you as the first and possibly only reader and hope that you find your own thoughts insightful and in some way inspiring : )
My brief time here on LBPC has revealed that not only am I not the only (physically) 'mature' LBP player/creator, but many of the very best levels being put out there are by those classified as 'adults' (18 years and over... no offence to any younger creators - I did say MOST, not all). As I said in my lbpcentral introduction - now swallowed up in the archives - I originally bought this game for my kids, and started playing along with them on their request. From there it was a bit of an addiction for me - the 'adult'.
I would be interested to know the age group Mm were really pitching at, despite the G rating. The basic processes of creating are easily grasped by all ages, but the full capacity for really complex creation in many ways is quite beyond the average primary/elementary school aged child, aside from the occasional technophile.
However, the addition of add-on game packs such as Metal Gear Solid, which is a game I would not let my kids play at their age (older two are 14 and 12) is a definite catering to the older teens/adults.
In any case, the downside of having an addictive game appealing to a very broad demographic is that the real kids can get swallowed up... or rather left behind, in the process.
Take my own kids. My girls are creative thinkers and quite talented in the area of visual arts. They'd been making their own levels for a little while and were really proud of what they'd done. When I made a level (Love), although they loved it, they were a little frustrated that they hadn't come up with some of the ideas I had. I explained that the difference was simply a matter of age and experience, which essentially it was.
Then came the day we organised PSNs for everybody, got online and they saw some of the levels that some very accomplished creators had made. At first it was enthusiasm and awe, but that eventually gave way to harsh self-evaluation and the declaration that their own levels were "crap" and would never be published for fear of being embarrassed. They lost their desire to create for quite a while, which really made me sad.
Secretly, I was a little relieved that they weren't so keen on publishing for that time because I was a bit concerned that the 5 star + labels rating system could drop their creative self esteem even lower when people either didn't play their levels, or started attaching critical labels like 'Rubbish' or 'empty' on their work, which would invariably happen because it happens to the best creators on the best levels. Consideration is rarely given for age or ability. And often times it is their very peer group that is to blame for the poor rating of great work - if it didn't hold their attention for longer than 30 seconds or it didn't have any guns.
But if you're going to put your efforts out there you've just got to have tough skin, and that's that. It's a lesson we've all got to learn in life, unfortunately.
However, my maternal instinct is to protect. Teenage self-esteem can be rather fragile and I want them to enjoy the creative experience without worrying themselves over what others might think of their creations.
Herein lies my dilemma. My 12 year old is really keen to join LBPCentral in a few months when she turns 13, so she can put one of her levels on Showcase. It's been my experience in the decade or so I've worked with youth that it's a rare teenage soul who, when asking for feedback, doesn't just secretly want someone to tell them they're fantastic and what they've done is awesome. Try and add some constructive criticism, however carefully put or padded out with encouragement, and the emotional filters kick in and can translate that to being told they're no good.
If she really wants to do that, of course I'm not going to stop her (although her online chatting would be monitored carefully). She'll learn something from the experience one way or the other, but I hope it's what she hopes it will be. I know there are some really lovely people out there in the lbpcentral community who would be supportive, but is this community, which has plentiful, quite hardcore lbp devotees, so focused on 'quality', really the right forum for kids?
And if it's not - is there such a place?