On this day in 1990 I made a note in my diary. I was taking a tutorial in my then university, and I noticed that one student was clearly pre-occupied with something he was holding under the desk, and whatever it was he was doing had attracted the attention of those sitting on either side of him. I decided I would check out what it was, and discovered it was a hand held gaming device – something new to me. In fact what the student was holding was a Game Boy, the then new device by Nintendo. I should have been annoyed perhaps, but always being keen on and interested in gadgets I let him take the thing above the table and explain what it did.
Of course computer gaming, which was not entirely new then, has become one of the key leisure activities of our age, and I shall admit I am someone who does occasionally dabble in it. But more to the point, on the whole I believe it has also provided us with tools for mental exercise that have been good, as well as sources of distraction and sometimes obsession that have been less good.
The Game Boy is still around, but perhaps with less of a raison d’être now that any number of functional hand held devices can hold games. But there is now a significant body of evidence to show that computer games can be useful educational tools. When properly used.