Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Saturday, November 25, 2006
My husband turned to me the other day and said those exact words. While this may not be on the same level as "Let's replace breast milk and formula with Red Bull and see what happens," the probability of these two things actually happening are, in my mind, approximately equal. Where should I even begin with this one?
Well, it's Thanksgiving weekend. Let's kick it off with...
1. Family Tradition. That's right. Video games are a tradition. When I was in elementary school, I had Pong, a Commodore 64 and an Atari 800. By age 6, I knew all the patterns for every Pac-Man level, Space Invaders didn't scare me, and my Frogger frog *always* picked up the pink froggy girlfriend off the log. I could beat both of my parents at any game, something that at age 6 felt pretty darn significant.
Some of my best memories are of going to Radio Shack with my dad and buying new joysticks to improve my game performance. I had the short, black stock ones that came with my game system (total junk - they gave me blisters). I then got a red joystick that had a really fast button on top and was a wee bit stiff (perfect for Pole Position and River Raid). I also had a secret weapon - my black and gray one that felt nearly frictionless and didn't tire out my muscles (perfect for long sessions of Moon Patrol, Donkey Kong, and Jungle Hunt).
Later, I got a Nintendo. My 7th grade girlfriends, Jennifer and Rachel, were easily as hardcore as I was. I will never forget the time that we beat Metroid and found out that the man in the helmet that we'd come to know and love was actually... a *woman*! I could save the princess in one man, revel in my Tetrismaster status, and yes - I even finished Gyromite with that stupid robot only to find out that the stupid game just restarts at the end - no grand finale.
I could go on and on reminiscing about the different game systems of my life, but the point is really this: not only are these some of my best memories, but these games helped me develop skills. Which brings us to #2...
2. Skills. Yep, believe it or not, gamers develop many unique skills. Here are the one's that come to mind:
- Hand-eye coordination. Try getting through the extra points round in Galaga without it.
- Spatial perception. If you are a Tetrismaster who can rotate objects both clockwise and counterclockwise, then you are probably in the upper percentiles when it comes to spatial perception. What does this mean? It means I can read maps, avoid getting lost when traveling, and almost never buy a couch that is too big or too small for the living room. How's that for real world application?
- Attention span, Problem Solving Skills, Determination, Goal Orientation, Strategy Development... Ok. This bullet's getting heavy. But, we all know that lots of kids can't sit still and focus these days. However, as any kid who has ever saved the Princess can tell you, you must learn to focus, or you'll never remember where to find the extra life mushroom or learn how to find the secret rooms and shortcuts to maximize your points and lead you towards your goal. When something doesn't work out and you die, you just keep trying until you find the right combination of moves to get you through it. Life's not that different from Super Mario Bros., is it? Which brings me to my last point...
3. An interest in technology. Ahh. There it is. Based on my unofficial survey of, oh, every computer geek I ever went to school or worked with in my entire life, most everyone seems to have quite a few early positive experiences with computers and technology. My mom was an engineer, so there was probably some "nature" component in addition to the "nurture" component. There's no question that my parents have always supported my interest in computers and computer games. These things aren't exactly cheap, so I've got to say thanks to them for investing in my dorky hobbies. First it was Atari money. Then, 12 years later, it was Caltech tuition money. Then, 12 years after that, they got me a Roomba for my birthday. Sniff. And to think it all started with Pong.
Ok. So, yeah. I love my dear husband, but there is just no way that I'm going to personally give up Galaga, my DDR mats and my NES1 (yes, I still play it). I mean, how lame would it be to say "No, honey. That's Mama's Playstation. Go to your room and read a book." Maybe I'll limit him to 8-bit games only until he's old enough to play Halo with the big boys? Hmm. But that might put a damper on #3 above...
Well, I've got a few more years to work it out. By then, Xbox 1080 should be launching, and you know I'll have to have it. ;)