I talked in class about this stage being right around where you want to start allowing children the opportunity for choice. This is not to say that children get the opportunity for a ridiculous number of choices, but rather that they get the opportunity to begin choosing things. So perhaps you allow your child the choice between 2 outfits at the start of the day, not their whole closet. This helps to drive children into learning to make decisions on their own. That whole decision making process is something that's learned not something that comes naturally. So I started to think, about what I was doing when I was between 3 and 5 years old. This was when I first started playing my Sega Master System (and next my original Nintendo).
Games are full of opportunities for trial and error decision making. The best part about games is almost exactly what the detractors would say is also their weakness, there are very few real life consequences to your decision making in a game. Sure you may have consequences around being late because you chose to play too long, or being broke because you bought the collector's edition of the recent big sci fi release (yes that may have been me). However, you don't necessarily make or break your days work because you chose to pick the one trinket and not the other in Bio Shock Infinite. So games are good for this decision making. Just because many of our popular games are rated higher than what is appropriate for a 3-5 year old doesn't mean that we don't still benefit from the practice of decision making we afford ourselves by playing something. For example:
I'm playing a good bit of TitanFall lately. I'm loving it. I'm even livestreaming it when I get a chance. My Twitch channel is (shameless plug):
I get to pick my Titan, pick its loadouts, try that out, and if I get totally destroyed, make some decisions around this the next round. Erik Erikson had a fundamental theory on Mastery. He believed that play was a great opportunity for making decisions, and that we needed to practice in order to get good at anything in particular. I'm taking this great theory and just giving you the most basic sense of it, but I think there's something to all of this. This of course is why I choose to use games in therapy, and why I think games can be therapeutic. More on this later. For now consider all the great games out there where you have had to make decisions and how that may or may not have affected you (I know some games I've made choices in have been particularly moving decision). I'd encourage you to share in the comments, or drop me a line on Twitter.