Blogger: Etta Wilson
Location: Books & Such Nashville Office
Weather: Cloudy and cool
A recent radio snippet about a new book on the game of poker (I didn’t catch the author or title) pointed out the dichotomy in American culture that started with the strong Puritan ethic–certainly no games of chance allowed–and later evolved into more risk-taking behavior as settlers pushed westward. In fact, a gutsy spirit in life was almost required. About 1836, the French game of pokue began to be enjoyed in New Orleans and rapidly spread and modified into games of wager that we know as poker.
I was thinking about this and what character traits we pass onto our children as I surveyed the great slew of gift catalogs featuring games. Basically, what is the principal appeal of present-day games? What do parents and grandparents look for when they shop? Is it what they think a child needs or what the child wants? Can’t a game deliver both?
It’s fairly clear at Toys R Us (“Choose from over 300 games!” says the newspaper insert) that Lego owns the bulk of floor space and has the most product. On the shelves are vast arrays of Lego action-figure product headed by the Bionicles and including Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pirates, Space Police, Agents 2.0, etc. There are other brands–Leap Frog and Fisher-Price for younger kids, and other kinds of product, some music-based such as “Guitar Hero” complete band sets, and Imaginarium offers 3 sets of building blocks that replace yesterday’s Lincoln Logs.
Several things hit me in this reality test–(1) no books in the store; (2) clear gender distinctions in toy appeal. Barbie product and all things related to dolls were very separate. (3) Products were based on movies and TV rather than on books; and (4) parents shopping with young children seemed not to know what to buy, but the kids knew exactly what they wanted. If I’ve got it wrong, please, please correct me!