“We know that one of the key purposes of play is socialization,” says Katie Salen, a professor at the University of California, Irvine, who studies game design and learning. By around 3-years-old, kids begin to play productively with one another and engage in peer-based play, which helps kids learn how to make friends and interact with other people. “Once they enter pre-adolescence, it’s very peer-based,” she explains. “The play and experimentation is very much rooted in the peer group and issues of exploring identity and friendship and belonging.”
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