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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

"Perfection" for Dummies? I Think NOT...

About two weeks ago, I took part in a charity fundraiser for a children's hospital in the area, where all of the money raised would be donated to said hospital.  I have to say that it was definitely a great experience to take part in it, and the group of people that I worked with in planning some of the events for the fundraising extravaganza were phenomenal.  I don't exactly know what our final total is, but last I heard, we were almost at twenty thousand dollars raised.  Not a bad chunk of change!

Anyway, one of the events that I took part in was a fun day of sorts, where we hosted a barbecue for the employees and their families, we sold candy kebabs, we had face painting and a photo booth, and we had all sorts of carnival games for the kids to play for the chance to win some prizes.  My responsibility was to set up the games area and to try and make it as fun as possible.

I knew that we already had some games set aside for the event (lawn tic-tac-toe, lawn bowling, etc), but I wanted to bring in a couple of my own games to try and make it a more fun experience.  I tried looking for "Toss Across", but I couldn't find it (and we already had a tic-tac-toe game anyway).  I brought in my Jenga game where all the kids had to do was remove five wooden pegs without knocking the tower down for a prize, which proved to be more challenging than they thought!

And, I thought that I would buy a cheap game from the toy department to add to the fun.  Looking around the board game section, the game that was the cheapest and easiest to play was the game "Perfection".  I know I liked playing it when I was a kid, and I knew that it would be a bit of a challenge for younger kids, so I went with it.

At least...I THOUGHT it was challenging.  Take a look at the version I bought.

And now have a look at the version that I played with.

Do you not think that the new "Perfection" seems to be insanely easy compared to the old "Perfection"?  When I took it out of the box to set it up, I actually burst into laughter and exclaimed "What is this?  Perfection for Dummies?"

I mean, at least when I was a kid, "Perfection" was quite a challenging and anxiety inducing game.  You had a set time limit of a minute to try and put twenty-five different shapes into the grid of holes that are presented to you.  It is definitely a lot harder than you think it is because some shapes tend to be more difficult to squeeze in than others.  And with the constant ticking of the clock causing your brain to short-circuit, it doesn't take long for the game board to pop up, pelting you with yellow plastic pieces and suffering a heart attack in the process.  

And don't even get me started on "Superfection", which combined the game of "Perfection" with a jigsaw puzzle.  Extra pieces, same time limit, double the stress levels.  No wonder I gave the game away not long after having it!

It was such a rush to play that game, but it was fun.  And challenging.

Try doing the same thing with sixteen fewer pieces.  It's not nearly as much fun, and honestly, I could put the game together before the clock stopped with a good forty seconds left.  Somehow the good people of Hasbro found a way to dumb the game down so much that it's become a snoozefest to play.

I suppose there could be a number of factors behind this.  Maybe it's more cost-efficient to make the games with fewer pieces, or maybe someone decided that they could fit more on the shelf by making it smaller.  But I sincerely hope that the reason for the "bite-sized" version of "Perfection" isn't to purposely dumb the game down so that it would be easier for kids to play and make them win more, because if that is the case, I call shenanigans.

There is nothing that angers me more than when people purposely dumb down games and activities so that more people can win at them.  To me, it's the same thing as giving every child at a sporting event a participation ribbon.  It cheapens the value of winning and it ultimately damages the child into thinking that all they have to do is show up and they'll get an instant reward.

Yes, yes...I know what you're saying.  Didn't you just state that you had a Jenga game present at the fundraising event where all the kids had to do was pull five blocks out?  Yes, this is true.  But that was because the event was being hosted for a limited time only.  If I had all day, I gladly would have had a one-on-one Jenga duel where if they beat me, they'd win a prize.

Besides, I don't really have a problem with parents or teachers changing the rules of the game to match the skill level of their child.  I would think they would know what level their child is learning at, and can make the necessary changes to help their child learn while still having fun.

But when toy companies automatically make their games super easy so that the games can produce more winners, I find that to be quite shameful.  We've already had enough examples of television shows and computer games that have given young children a whole bunch of mixed messages.  I mean, just Google the phrase "online games for girls", and there is a huge assortment of games that are extremely sexist and are quite offensive.  And many of these games treat women as if they are braindead.  This annoys the hell out of me, and I'm a guy! 

And it's not just girls that get targeted with this.  The fact that it took decades for the Easy-Bake Oven to be declared a unisex toy is maddening!  Are they saying that guys can't cook?  Try telling that to Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsay, and Jamie Oliver!

And don't even get me started on common core math.  It's the most uncommon way to teach math, and it only serves to confuse people even more.

Instead of making society dumber, why not celebrate intelligence, and challenges, and using brain power to make the world better?

I say stop dumbing down "Perfection" and other toys for girls and boys.  Make it more challenging.  I guarantee'll be more rewarding in the long run.

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