Penny Arcade is a blog/web comic for obsessive video gamers whose senses of humor tend towards the caustic. So when you see an earnest post about kids and technology you know it has to be interesting.
Gabe, one of the authors tells a story about his son’s obsession with the game Minecraft. If you aren’t familiar with the game, Minecraft is basically a multiplayer game of digital LEGOs. You make things and avoid some nebulous bad guys, but it is fundamentally a digital sandbox.
His son plays for hours a day and he is considering putting limits on the play as good parenting manuals would suggest. But he can’t, because the things his son are making are too cool. Not only is he building things in the game, but his son (Age 7) wanted to make a video of himself making things in the game so he built a “tripod” out of Legos, with an ultimate aim of sharing it online. So this 7 year old who has never read the Cognitive Surplus, thought about participatory media, or had any exposure to notions of a post TV landscape spends his time:
1. Playing a game that’s primary goal is building original structures
2. Documenting his creative process via video
3. Fashioning real world objects to meet his needs
4. Sharing his creations via the web.
If little Gabe isn’t an outlier we could be on the brink of a new wave of creativity. Of course, this should be tempered with a bit of reality. One of the smartest guys in tech pointed out that MySpace profiles tricked out with custom HTML/CSS portended the same thing, but ultimately fizzled. I’m still optimistic that this is for real and exciting days are ahead.