Understanding Social Interaction and Instructional Game Design
Growing up in the Quiet Corner, much of my time was spent looking for ways to self-entertain. Technology access was fairly limited in the early-to-mid 1980s, but I did have two other valuable resources: people and the woods behind our house. I’d sometimes play outside with a neighbor or friend from school, but more often than not, I’d wander off to invent my own playful activities in the trees, snow, mud, or pond across the road. Once my younger sister was old enough to understand game mechanics and rules, I shifted from solo play (e.g., matching games, flashcards, Calvinball) to collaborative and competitive play (e.g., Candy Land, Operation, Mario Kart). My dad eventually taught us chess and soccer, and my mom, who wouldn’t think of herself as a “gamer,” encouraged us to play board and card games like Trouble and cribbage as part of our family time. We regularly visited the playground, and on special occasions we would visit playful venues like Discovery Zone. Every season and in any weather, we played everything from tag, house, and manhunt to Donkey Kong Country, Monopoly, and Dungeons & Dragons. More than a hobby, play was a mindset instilled in me by others and something I tried my best to spread.