Knowing ‘X’ does not imply knowing ‘Y’

Approximate Reading Time: 2 minutes

Earlier this spring, I had a lovely conversation with a fellow game researcher and enthusiast (Jostein Hassel) about how digital games are related to non-digital games. I learned a lot from this conversation (more on that in an upcoming post).

One of the things that came out of that conversation was a crystallization of an idea that has been rattling around in my head for years (see title above).

“I know about THAT because I know about THIS and there are some similarities.”

Just because I have played solitaire does not mean I understand games.

I am an expert on computer games. That does NOT make me an expert on RPGs, LARPs, board games, ….

Note: and this is really crucial: The reverse is also true.

So knowing something about in-class role-play games does not qualify you to make claims about digital games. This is an assumption I have often heard from Education academics.

Here is a fairly typical response on the subject of digital games being distinct from other forms of games:

It matters not. if some appeal and others don't -
I have no skill in computer games so use them little -
but they are the 'same'!

Someone who does not play or use computer games feels qualified to judge them? To claim they are the same as board games and in-class simulations?

That would be like making a pronouncement on Shakespeare’s works without ever having read a single one. We would think that’s preposterous (or should). Why are we supposed to take this dreck from educators? Harlan Ellison made the point very well:

When I reviewed television, people said “If you hate television so much, how come you’ve got a television set in your house?”. Stephen King even said “You know, Harlan’s got a big TV.”. Yes, that’s right. I try to  be courant. I try to know what it is I’m talking about. I am not like many people who give you an opinion based on some sort of idiot hearsay or some kind of gut feeling you cannot validate. When I give an opinion, I do my best to make sure it is based on information.

You don’t have to be a hard-core gamer to be able to talk about games. BUT….

If you want to offer an opinion about digital games,  you MUST play some. If you don’t play games you have no scholarly authority to talk about them.

And here’s the kicker for a lot of Educationists: if you don’t play digital games, you have NO business making educational ones.

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