CHILDHOOD’S END

Unpublished column intended for Manci Games – August 2004

When my ten year old, Ronnie, was an infant, I used to worry about my massive Atari collection. I knew that one day Ronnie would want to play videogames, how could he not, living with me? It’s just that many of the games in my collection are very valuable and I didn’t want him to damage them.

I needn’t have worried!

When Ronnie was around five I bought him a Gameboy Color and Pokémon Red and Blue game packs. This was the perfect system to introduce him to videogames. There were no controllers that could be destroyed and the massive amount of on-screen text helped him learn to read. Still, I knew that one day he would want to play with consoles and again I worried about my Atari collection.

To phase him into the world of consoles I bought him a Genesis 3. This small system was only $20 so I figured that it was the perfect game system to start him off with. It was on of the proudest days of my life the first time I saw him with a controller in his hand. Eventually him and his brother Gregory, who was four, became great Sonic players.

I always told Ronnie that he would be the envy of all his friends because of all the videogames that we owned. The trouble was that he wasn’t allowed to play with them! Then finally one day he got tired of the Genesis 2 and he wanted an N64 like his friends had. So I obliged him and pretty soon he became good at that system.

I managed to get my kids a Gamecube the day it came out. They still play it avidly although Ronnie now wants to ‘move up’ to my PS2. All his friends now have PS2 and he wants to join them.

But the main thing that I’m happy about was that I was able to circumvent my kids from playing with my Atari 2600. Silly me. They wouldn’t be caught dead playing it. I tried to get Ronnie to play some games with me from Intellivision Lives for the PS2 but he finds them boring (how can anyone find Astrosmash boring?). And what bothered me even more was the time Ralph Baer sent me a replica of his infamous Brown Box. I hooked it up to the TV and Ronnie didn’t even bat an eye. He had no interest in the game no matter how much history was involved in it. I tried to explain that he should use his imagination. It was as if Thomas Edison had sent him a wax cylinder to listen to music from. But he doesn’t care. Unless the game has realistic images and a storyline, it’s boring.

So now I no longer have to worry about him playing with my Atari 2600. I can only imagine how he would react to Alan Miller’s Basketball after hours of NBA 2K3 on the Gamecube. And of course it saddens me that he feels that way.

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