Digital game playing is increasingly popular among teenagers and adults today. Engaging graphics immerse players in virtual worlds where the challenge to ‘level up’ can be simultaneously pleasurable and frustrating. The creativity and technological skills required for the design and development of games are admirable, complex and now serious international business for those who have them. Yet, as our School’s 2010 Education Futurist, Professor Erica McWilliam, asserts, “creativity is everybody’s business and creativity turns into employability”.
This reversal of George Costanza’s patented break-up line sums up the premise of this article: that effective communication is not about the “me” in a situation, it’s about understanding and accommodating the “you” by a process of what could be considered strategic or pre-emptive empathy. This is not the Clintonesque, hand-on-heart, “I feel your pain” variety of empathy we get from those on the hustings; rather it is a process of disciplined imagining which enables writers and speakers to communicate effectively with their readers and listeners.
Like many people, I was recently alerted to the phenomenon of 'planking' – the act of lying flat like a plank and capturing it in a photograph. I was grappling with how such a basic physical pose could cause an injury, let alone a death. Once I had established that it is the location of the 'performance' that is the important factor, and that the first reported death occurred from a sixth floor balcony rail planking attempt, I began to see how judgement and circumstance could blend, and things could all go wrong.
John Bowlby, a British psychologist, psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, noted that [a child's] early closeness and dependency on the mother, or attachment figure, provides not only physical protection but also a psychological sense of security for the child. Bowlby observed infants’ reactions to separation from the mother, or attachment figure, and concluded that the child’s ability to eventually leave the mother, and become independent, was deeply influenced by this initial dependency. Good attachment gives the child a sense of having a secure base, and with a secure base, the child feels supported enough emotionally to be able to gradually move away from the close proximity of mother and explore the world around her. The child can then grow in self-confidence and self-competence which in turn will allow her to form relationships with other people.