In response to "The Hidden Playground" from The Escapist Forum: I can't help but wonder if this free-range kids movement was started by human slave traffickers hit hard by the lack of kids wandering the streets and being left in front of shops.
But seriously, suburban sprawl is just as much (if not more) to blame. Send a kid outside now-a-days, where the hell is (s)he going to go? Only the nice neighborhoods have parks you want your kids hanging out at. The fact of the matter is that (by money or age restrictions) kids don't have a lot of options open to them like people who are over 21 (in the states) do.
Another thing I noticed: parents are lazy. My mom used to take me all over the place; I've probably been to every park in the tri-state area. If parents are concerned, they should take their kids out. It's also easier for the kid; who doesn't have a drivers license yet.
I would also like to make a few pointes on child rearing and such.
"Free play" is (if I remember correctly) the term used by scientists to denote the rules free, imaginative, off-the-hook, kind of play taht children do if left to their opwn devices for more than fifteen seconds. I reacaall reading a study that showed correaltion between stress levels, memory, attention span and a few other things to that of the ammount of free play that the child indulged in. Granted this article was on Japanese children ad was more of a lament on the ammount of schooling they were forced into from an early agge, but I still find it relevant to point out that free play, and rough play, are very important for a child. It teaches about how to use their bodies, it strengthens ties and it teaches empathy for tohers thorugh the argumetns and hurts suffered. A computer game may well be a substitute for some of this (multiplayer and all that) but I would agree with Shigeru Miyamoto on the point that "if it's nice, go outside". Since a computer game, much like a game of football or even tag, have predefined rules that do not constitute to "free play".
I sort of forgot where I was going with this but...so there! I said something!
In response to "Gamer-Size Me" from The Escapist Forum: I swear, everyone misses the point. Consider this:
You want me to exercise. I am just sitting here minding my own business. You want me to start running, and I don't want to start running. What can you do to get me to run? I'm not exaggerating when I say you'd have to chase me with the threat of violence. You'd better have a chainsaw or a pet lion or I'm sitting right here, thanks.
Or, here's a better solution: throw a frisbee. I'll fuggin' run fullspeed after that bitch! And if you put skates on me and give me a stick and puck, I'll exercise even harder, because to me hockey is even more fun than frisbee.
My point is that fun is the best motivator. These games shouldn't provide shame as content; games are supposed to be fun! They should just be more fun to play, to the point where you want to do it daily. I tell you, when somebody figures out how to make players exercise when playing a really fun game (such as Left 4 Dead), suddenly you'll see a lot more gamers in terrific shape.
Hmmm.... games can be a good source of inspiration, but in a surprising way.
I started running after having spent a few years watching my avatar running everywhere in City of Heroes. I thought "He looks pretty fit. I'd be sooo fit too if I ran around like that."
And whaddya know? It worked! I now run 3-milers three times a week, with the odd 6-miler thrown in on the weekend when I have more time. And just like an MMO, I'm grinding my speed and my distance with the aid of my handy GPS. And enjoying the photorealistic scenery, of course.
Next on my list - trying out my avatar's flight power; that looks like fun!