"Playing Games Together Just Keeps Getting Better"

Toca Boca's Jonas Laurell shares a Father's Day reflection.

Jonas Laurell
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Jonas Laurell, Animator
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jonas_sonI remember having a conversation with distant friend about kids and games many years ago. She had the strong opinion on how she couldn’t wait for her then 2-year old son to grow up and become big enough so that they could play Monopoly together. As she put it, she was not a big fan of small children. But she loved playing games and was longing for the day when they could play more “grown-up” games together.

I still have difficulties to relate to her view on small children, and I myself have always loved playing games with my own kids. But I must agree with her that playing games together just keeps getting better. Not because of the games, but because it is an amazing way of seeing your children grow. Sometimes right there in front of you.

Playing games is like learning a language

Something that I hadn’t understood before having kids is how playing games is like learning a language. As you play together you share more than the game, you develop intricate patterns of understanding, for the rules of the game, for the possibilities that exist within them and not least, for each other.

It is such a joy seeing how they discover new ways of thinking, much like learning new words to be able to better express themselves. As you are there when it happens you also become part of that development. You get to become a playful piece of your children’s ever-growing understanding of the world around them. And you yourself, of their world.

It is such a joy seeing how they discover new ways of thinking.

Books and games are more similar than you think

Playing together we build a story, we create moments of discovery together and that itself creates bonds — much like reading a book together. I feel books and games are more closely related than you normally think. They both have that additional layer you get from experiencing them together.

Today I barely make it across the front door porch before my 5-year old, Nicolas, comes running asking me to play with him. Digital or analog, it doesn’t matter. My 7-year old, Elvira, is now beating me at 4-in-a-row while my 9-year old, Olivia, and I can sit for hours playing campaigns in Talisman or Ticket to Ride.

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And for all those that feel that their kids are spending too much time on the iPad playing: Join them. If only for a while. Get to know the world they’re playing. Learn their language. I promise you, you will start growing together in ways you never would imagine.

I love games. I have always loved games. I come from a family of game-lovers. I will continue to play for as long as I live. But since my children entered my world my experience and view of games have grown tenfold.

Jonas Laurell is the animator for Toca Boca’s newest app, Toca Life: Plants, and other fun Toca Boca titles.

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