I’m a firm believer that we learn the most from doing what we love. Information sticks like glue when it is tied to skills you have a practical use for. This applies to any interest, whether we see it as traditionally valuable or not.
Dark Mirror has spent several years obsessed with Starcraft, a computer game. The interesting thing is, he’s only marginally interested in playing Starcraft. He is much more into designing the game himself. So, he’s been introduced to the idea of computer programming through it. He reads about it, authorized stories about the game characters, as well as fan fiction. He translates other fantasy and science fiction stories into the mechanics of the game as well. He writes about it. He looks at world geography and translates it into Starcraft maps. He draws characters and maps constantly. He even explores pretty complex math concepts through it; like, if our math system is a base ten system because we have 10 digits on our hands, what happens in an alien culture where they have eight digits? Ever tried doing math in a base eight system? Dark Mirror has, just for fun.
As a mom, the best thing about Dark Mirror’s Starcraft obsession is that he’s sought out an online community of others with the same interests. He spends a lot of time working cooperatively with other fans on games and in discussions on game mechanics and more geeky philosophical topics. This group has become real friends to him when he’s needed to talk about more weighty issues in his life too. That’s great for an introvert. I’ve noticed that the trust he’s developed in this online group of faceless internet friends has translated into an openness in the real world too, and Dark Mirror is having a much easier time making friends, and talking about things other than Starcraft.