The Value of Play

by Darius Kazemi on December 5, 2006

in Uncategorized

I overheard someone in public a few weeks ago say to somebody else, “My son is 13, and he has an Xbox and a high definition TV. It cost us $1200 total! I never had any $1200 toys when I was a kid. I remember I got a brand new bike and it was the best thing ever. Kids these days!”

I think she may have been missing the point. To me, the fact that we’re spending more on toys (and entertainment in general) on a per capita basis means that we’re attaching more value to play. Perhaps play is worth more to us as a society than it was years ago.


solipsistnation December 5, 2006 at 7:37 pm

Mmmm, on the other hand, $1200 IS a load of cash. Not to be a total luddite, but do kids NEED a $1200 TV and stuff of their own? Why is that not a family activity, or at least somewhere central? And do the games this kid is going to play locked in his bedroom with a TV the size of Utah nurture or stifle creativity, and will he ever get out and ride around on a bike at all or will he stay inside growing pale and asocial?

Eh, I’m probably old-school (or a curmudgeon), but at least I had my running-around-outside years before I locked myself in a room with a computer and burned video games into my brain…

Still, the whole “I got my kid a $1200 video game setup!” thing bugs me. At least I had to work to save up for my own Commodore 64, disk drive, and so on. It seems like it’s implied that this kid was just given this stuff… Obviously, I don’t know, but if the PARENT is saying “Kids these days!” why isn’t the parent doing the parenting differently?

Anonymous December 6, 2006 at 8:47 pm

One of my favorite Newsradio lines is when someone (I don’t remember who) says something nostalgic like “That’s not how we used to do it in the old days” and Lisa says “In the old days people died of ptomaine poisoning and blamed it on ghosts.” I am with you on this one DK. Investing in play is good (though solipsistnation has a point: an HD tv is hardly necessary).

Doug December 6, 2006 at 10:02 pm

I second the idea that if the parent is complaining about spending so much money then perhaps the parent shouldn’t be spending so much money. Parently control is a good thing.

On the other hand, I’m guessing this was simply the parent complaining for the sake of complaining – I’d at least hope the HD TV wasn’t just for the kid – perhaps that’s the big family TV?

But as for your point – yes, investment in electronic gaming has gone up, although I’m curious how it tracks compared to inflation (and the rise of the disposable income…).

Anonymous December 7, 2006 at 3:05 am

Actually, I think this is correlatively indicative of a major transformation going on in our culture.

solipsistnation December 7, 2006 at 3:23 am

Is “correlatively” a word?

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