Ryan Bradley writes, in Kill Screen, about small children, video games, and what the latter can teach us about the inner lives of the former:
Play can be serious business, and Jackson goes quiet for awhile, adding schools of clownfish to his finger painting. When we are young and our brain is a series of islands, minds adrift in the sea of our skull, we play to make sense of the world. Sometimes, when we figure things out and unlock this new world’s secrets, we go back and repeat, just to make sure. This is probably why Jackson picked Monkey Lunchbox—he’s familiar with its rules. Gopnik takes this idea one powerful step further: We play to imagine what could be, to create rules and terms for the future. We play, in other words, to imagine and to invent. It’s play that allowed us to walk out of the Great Rift Valley and conquer the world and then some. No play, no imagination, no rocket to the moon. Because children don’t have to worry about day-to-day survival, Gopnik explains in her book, The Philosophical Baby, they “don’t choose to explore only the possibilities that might be useful—they explore all the possibilities.” Because of play, “we can consider different ways the world might be, not just the ways the world actually is.” How it is for Jackson right now is very, very fishy.