In the beginning of my “career” as a video game junkie in the late 70s there was no Playstation or Xbox. Back then, avid arcade players like me had to settle for what are now classic handheld games like the ones pictured here, Football 2 and Battlestar Galactica.
In those days, depending on which handheld electronic game you were playing, beeping red-lighted dots represented everything from your quarterback and pitcher to your race car and spaceship. By modern standards, yesterday’s handheld games are horses compared to today’s Sony PSP and Nintendo “Ferraris.”
Despite the “advances” in modern gaming, many of which I truthfully like to play, I successfully kept my children from jumping on the advanced video gaming bandwagon for longer than most parents could. I did this for several reasons. I wanted my kids to play the classic old school games with me that I cherished growing up and not feel like those games were inferior. I also wanted them to gradually migrate to the different game consoles.
Without realizing it, I had created a trick that until recently I practiced with them called the Old School Games Trick. To do this trick right you have to let your kids play ONLY modern “educational type” games you feel are good for them or the classic games you enjoyed. In my son’s case, he took up a Playstation 2 game called The Bible Game. It was a game that was fun, featured inspirational music and taught him about God as he played so I let him play that game all he wanted. My daughter Elena, who is four years younger, would often sit along Jonathan to watch him.
In Elena’s case, she started her video game experience strictly through a handheld Leapster educational game system. I got her bilingual adventure, drawing and math games so she could learn as she played. Elena would play with her Leapster for hours and I was delighted to see that because it was good and wholesome.
A little more than a year ago, I splurged on ebay and bought a variety of old school handheld games that I used to own including an awesome, mid-80s video game console called Vectrex that was years ahead of its time. At first, my son and daughter played these games with me.
But then, we made a terrible mistake and we bought Jonathan a Nintendo DS Lite. The “Ferrari” made the horse look slow real quick. No matter how hard I tried, even to the point of buying my son a second Vectrex system, I couldn’t get him to play the games I liked anymore. For her part, Elena gradually began to see Jonathan playing the DS Lite and began to believe she was too advanced for the Leapster system. She now has her own DS Lite.
Some call it progress but I don’t. I wish I could have diligently practiced the Old School Games Trick longer than I did. It’s going to take my one year old Briani a couple years to get old enough to learn the Old School Games Trick and play with me.