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January 4, 2006

Possessing Barbie: Games Are More Than Childsplay

This example of New Games Journalism elloquently raised the issue of children and avatar chats with a very human, down-to-earth narrative. Expounding upon the issue of ontology in games media, Shanahan learns first-hand that perhaps it's more than "just a game."

He found that experiences in online gaming can be just as real as real-life (RL) experiences. The issue becomes even more grave when you consider kids and teens taking part in these equally real experiences with strangers.

“Kids can’t do that. They have fewer warning systems, because they have been hurt less and they are more open. But they want to explore and there are people who will take advantage of that innocence and curiosity.”

This passage greatly affirms the dangers of such interactions. I would have to agree. Given that these interactions--although mediated--are real, that in RL parents would not give their children to strange adults, and that children and teens are more vulnerable, I think it couldn't hurt for parents to be extra wary of what their children do online.

Posted by EvanReynolds at January 4, 2006 2:59 PM

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Good point. When adults tell ourselves that something is “just pretend,” we can call on experiences that separate us from play. For younger children, even when they know full well that they aren’t really dinosaurs or ponies, their emotional experiences are so closely tied to play that it almost doesn’t matter.

Here we are, working on a college course online. For you it’s credit, for me it’s a job. That’s very real, just as real as the social interactions that teens have online, and the buisness interactions people have outside the ivory tower.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at January 4, 2006 5:28 PM

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