Hey everyone, it’s Whatever Wednesdays again. Today, I’m going to talk about something a little off the beaten path. We’re going to talk about “Growing up with Nintendo.”
Growing up with Nintendo?
I am one of those kids who grew up with Nintendo. “Back in my day”, parents didn’t really know or understand video games. Back then, every video game system was “Nintendo”. Usually, it was “turn off that Nintendo” or something to that effect.
Back then, video games were considered “bad for you”.
However, I just wanted to take this time to explain what video games taught me. Also, I think some of these qualities are lost on the current generation growing up (and their video games).
What do you mean?
Well, I have an SNES Classic. After looking at those games and playing through some of them a little with my kids I realized that these games would never work in the current generation. The most immediate thing is the degree of difficulty that existed back then.
Video games were difficult to create, and the chance of failure was high. In order to “lengthen” gameplay, creators would make the games more difficult. A good example of this is a game like Ghosts n’ Goblins and its sequel Super Ghouls n’ Ghosts, which are classically considered to be one of the most difficult games around. Another more common example is Contra. However, with the Konami Code, most every kid back then was able to beat it with the 30 lives you got from using it.
In that era “difficulty” = “replayability” because that is what they had to work with. Or in the case of an RPG, it meant having to level your characters in order to beat a particular boss and a “random encounters”. The idea of getting “bang for your buck” was important here since games were expensive.
Another thing that was lost between that generation of games and the current generation is that updates and patches didn’t exist. There was no way to “update” games back then. If the game had a glitch, then it was that way forever, and would never be fixed.
Why does this matter?
Games have changed. It’s not necessarily good or bad, it’s just different. If a game came out like the SNES games of old, it probably wouldn’t do very well. Even the most widely acclaimed, such as Chrono Trigger or Super Mario World would probably do very poorly. The gaming landscape has changed. Nostalgia is strong, but there is something else.
Society in general, has become one of instant gratification. There is always a sense of “what’s next?”. I see this in my children when they try to play these old SNES games. They become bored with these games very quickly if there is no progress.
For example, my daughter is playing a very “light” RPG called Magic Knight Rayearth. I felt it was good for her because she had to read the text and do some problem solving. However, she became frustrated by the “random encounters” in the game as well as the constant wondering of “where do I go next?” The patience to explore the game or learn something new just isn’t there – at least not yet. To be fair, the game is kind of slow, and the frequency of random encounters is kind of bad.
Granted, Kylie is only 6 years old, but the sense of wonderment I had when playing these games just isn’t the same for her. This might be related to their environment since they’ve grown up with Marvel and The Avengers. Special effects and CGI are “normal” to them. Whereas, the 5 year old me was amazed by movies like Top Gun and Big Trouble in Little China.
What’s the bottom line?
The bottom line is the games that I enjoyed growing up probably will not provide the same sense of wonderment to my children. However, I do hold on to the belief that there are good values/lessons to be learned from playing these old games.
The idea of exploring for the sake of exploring is important.” The journey is just as important as the end”… right? “Not all those who wander are lost”, and such.
The idea of working towards something is important. Stepping outside your comfort zone. Learning from your failures. The feeling of accomplishment when you beat a boss you couldn’t beat before.
The idea of planning and hard work. The people who beat games like The Legend of Zelda and others with their labyrinth like mazes (for that time), actually took the time to make their own maps so they knew where to do. After losing a battle, the practice of going back and examining what you did wrong is also important. You do this in order to try to fix the problem and beat the boss or get to the next level, or whatever.
Could they learn these values/lessons from somewhere else?
Sure… and they probably will. However, games provide an outlet to do these things alone. This, in combination with what happens in their daily lives helps to cement these values.
Some people may think I’m crazy, but I really do believe that I learned a lot of my present day habits from video games. Video games aren’t real life…but the hard work and accomplishments are real. When my children come to me to share that they beat a particularly hard level or boss or whatever — I will remember what that felt like when I was kid and tell them how great they are and how proud I am.
That’s what we all want right? For our kids to reach for the stars, accomplish things, and be told how great they are — and how proud we are? Video games are all a part of that, just like school, sports, and other hobbies are.
Of course, all things in moderation. Just to be clear, my kids are only allowed to play video games on the weekend, under my (or my wife’s) supervision, and only for like maybe an hour or so. To be honest, they only like to play for an hour or so anyways.
The long and short of it is that they will have access to video games eventually, whether that’s middle school, high school, college, or whenever. I think it’s good to be exposed to it, but understand it’s ok in moderation — under our supervision.
Video games are different, but the values/lessons are still there.
That said, while video games aren’t real life… the hard work and accomplishments are.
Of course, all things in moderation.
Trust me. I’m a doctor. 😄
Agree? Disagree? Questions, Comments and Suggestions are welcome.
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