I was born into a house that had Pong. I remember the Christmas when my family got our Atari 2600. As I was learning to tie my shoes and not learning fractions I was helping Pitfall Harry balance on the heads of crocodiles. I was there when Mario got his M.D. and searched Hyrule for the pieces of the Triforce. I played against R.O.B and fought Mike Tyson. When the world went Super I was there too. Then I fell in love with the tournament in Earthrealm and missed more collage classes then I care to admit fighting for vengeance with Scorpion. Dreamcast, Genesis, Playstation, Xbox and my old friend Nintendo all have a special place in my life.
Now that I have kids I see that love of gaming growing in them. My son started off with a used Nintendo Gamecube and Luigi’s Mansion and now his gaming obsession has exploded. He quickly saved Mario from the painting then took the plumber on an adventure to clean graffiti (weird I know, but making Mario fly with the water gun is cool). He discovered Sonic and Smash Brothers and (don’t tell mom) we like to battle each other in an occasional Batman vs. Scorpion match. We talk about games and systems and he asks me to tell stories about my first NES. We’ve sung Pac-Man Fever, made game inspired Halloween costumes and discussed the political structure of The Mushroom Kingdom.
We’ve enjoyed many of the same games and even when we didn’t I like the game, I got it. I could see why it was fun, what the point was. But, it seems we’ve suddenly come up against a video game generation gap know as Minecraft.
Minecraft is a video game, I guess, where the player builds farms and fights squid zombies or something. That’s all I can figure out. The game has an open world type of play, which to this old thyme gamer means you just hang out and don’t accomplish anything. I mean, in my day you had to save the princess, or fight the Mother Brain, or climb ladders and jump over barrels. We had goals, stuff to do. We didn’t build things with bricks; we broke them with our heads and collected the coins that fell from the rubble.
I have never felt so much like an out of touch adult as when I watch my son play this game. I look at the screen and have no idea what I’m seeing. He’s moving around, opening menus, clicking on stuff and telling me about all the different blocks he has to use; wood, coal, lava, air?! And then there’s something about seeds and gathering resources to survive. In my day all we needed to survive was a raccoon tail and the code for Sub Zero’s Iceball Attack.
Oh, and the main character, the guy you play as has the goofiest video game name ever, Steve. Really Steve? In my day video game characters didn’t have such ridiculous names. They were named Link, Samus Aran, M. Bison, Don Flamenco, Fox McCloud or Mario Mario.
I thought I could keep up with the kids but, I think I may have reached my limit. Everything about Minecraft is lost on me. I now understand what my parents were feeling when I started to listen to Gangsta Rap. Why a kid in small town Western Nebraska liked N.W.A must have been as foreign to my dad as what one does with a block of Polished Andesite in a video game is to me.
So, enjoy your game son, we’ll always have Fire Flowers and Fatalities. Whenever you want to talk about the differences between princesses Daisy and Peach we can. Until that time build your castle and fend off the Creepers, I’ll be with your sister listening to her describe the difference between Frankie Stein and Clawdeen Wolf.