I have always been fascinated by time. It’s so malleable that its passage can seem to speed up or slow down simply by circumstance. For me, there is no slower passage of time than sitting in a doctor’s office or waiting for my luggage at the airport. Nothing, though, equaled the fifth grade in terms of slow time (my teacher was not just mean; she was crazy). I think that school year lasted a decade.
On the other hand, pulling your head out of an immersive computer game can seem shocking in how much time seems to have passed in so little time. Similarly, time spent with great friends, an enthralling movie or an absorbing book can also collapse time.
That was why my interest was caught by a show on time that was playing one of the science channels. Unfortunately, I was not in a position to take notes but what struck me was the theory it espoused that the older we get the faster time seems to pass. This show even posited a theorem in which, as I
recall, you multiplied each decade by Pi (3.14) to find out how much faster time passed as you aged. Is it good science? I don’t know but it sure seems true. Time does indeed seem to move much faster now than it ever did.
As I listened to all of this I wondered if, when we create toys and games, we think enough in terms of how children experience time as opposed to how we as adults do. 15 minutes or a half an hour for them may be like an hour or two for us.
That means that great toys and games have to give them such an immersive experience that they will not sense time passing. Construction toys have the ability to provide this experience; I have seen children literally spend hours playing with Lego. So do great books and family games.
What toys do you think do the best job of keeping children involved for extended periods of time?