Is childhood getting better?

Here’s Steven Johnson with a terrific piece on why better games mean childhood might have taken a recent turn for the better:

Anyone with children over a certain age will tell you that one of the best things about being a parent is how much time you get to spend playing games with your kids. In my case–I have three boys, aged 2 to 7–the experience has always had a split-screen quality to it: half belonging to the 21st century, the other belonging to my childhood in the mid-seventies. We spend a ton of time together playing Little Big Planet on the PS3–or more accurately, we spend a ton of time with me marveling at their skills at Little Big Planet and woefully attempting to keep up with them. But there’s also the parallel track, where I get to revisit the games that I played as a child. Just last week it was Battleship. Before that it was Sorry, Bingo, Go Fish, Candy Land, and so on.

There’s a consistent theme to all these old-school game introductions: almost without exception, I have been mortified by the pathetic game that I’ve excitedly brought to the kids. Not because they’re made out of cardboard and plastic, instead of 1080p HDMI graphics. (My boys still spend just as many happy hours with Lego as they do the PS3.) What’s irritating about the games is that they are exercises in sheer randomness. It’s not that they fail to sharpen any useful skills; it’s that they make it literally impossible for a player to acquire any skills at all.