Economy of Effort

Twitter LinkedIn GitHub Mail RSS

Games And My 50 Year Old Father, Part 1

My dad (who is actually 51, but the round number 50 makes for a better title) has not been a steady video game player for many years. He was part of the Atari generation, and my early years - some too early to even remember - were spent surrounded by Pac-Man and Berzerk. Somewhere around Super Mario Bros., however, my dad got left behind on the gaming learning curve. Now, he is approaching his retirement, and what’s more, he will have grandchildren somewhere down the road - and any children I have will be game players from the moment they can hold a controller. Not to mention the fact that I expect him to play anything that I get to work on. :)

So, I’m challenging him to get back into playing games. I told him, if he starts now, he’ll be able to play them for the rest of his life. But if he sits and waits longer, it will get to the point where he’s not able to catch up. I’m reminded of the George Bernard Shaw quote, “We do not stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” Keep playing = stay young, not to mention a never-ending stream of mental challenges to help keep one sharp.

For Christmas, Logan and I packed up his unused GameCube, and threw in a copy of Super Smash Bros. Melee. Then, I went and bought a copy of Mario Golf to go with it. The GameCube was an easy choice for a nice, easy to use system and stable of games. For the games, I wanted ones that don’t terminate gameplay for doing something “wrong” (like falling into a hole). With a game like Mario Golf, you may end up 7 strokes over par, but you get to keep playing. With SSB, you at least get to wail on each other for a while, plus you can set the game on “Very Easy” and the computer pretty much stands there and lets you wail on them. And both are very easy to pick up and don’t require much more than hitting the “A” button to handle the basic gameplay elements.

On Christmas Day, after we opened presents and were waiting for the extended family to come, I hooked up the Cube in my parents' bedroom. He was able to successfully play a couple of holes of golf, and sure seemed impressed by the visuals that the GameCube pumped out (it’s definitely a long way from Atari).

Hopefully this is the start of a long-running series of posts. I think he’ll have a lot of fun with those two games, and get used to having a controller in his hands again, and manipulating onscreen stuff with a series of buttons. It’s easy to learn to play games, but it helps to have something easy and newbie-friendly to play while you get used to the basics.