Friday, November 27, 2009

A Land With No Internet

My son and I were talking tonight about when I was a kid. He asked me about video games when I was a kid and so I told him about the Commodore Vic-20 that I had. Everyone else I knew had a Sega or an Atari, but my dad, a budding computer enthusiast, bought into William Shatner’s line of reasoning: “Why just buy a video game?” In retrospect, I’m pretty happy about what we had, but at the time I would have given anything to be able to play PacMan or Donkey Kong or even Burger Time. As it was, I had games like Raid on Fort Knox, Radar Rat Race and Dig Dug.

Harrison asked how many games I had and, while I couldn’t remember an exact number, I estimated that my brother Mike and I had probably had, at any given time, probably ten games. Harrison countered this by saying, “I have four video games. I have, I have, I have The Magic Tree House [ed. the website for the books], and I have Kido’z.” We had to explain to him that at this time, there really was no internet (at least, not that was available to John Q. Public, but why confuse the kid?), and that you had to load the games with a cartridge.

He tried to wrap his mind around this concept—a world without the internet. I could seem him trying, but I don’t think he really grasped it. I moved on, though, with my personal history lesson and next told him about my Commodore 64, a veritable beast of computing power. It, like the Vic-20, took cartridges, but we also had a tape deck for programs that were on cassette tapes (!!!), as well as a very early floppy disk drive (5-1/4 inch, y’all!).

When asked about my favorite games on this system, I told him about Space Taxi, a game I spent so much time on that I can, to this day, still hear the little guy screaming across the screen, “Hey! Taxi!”

I told him about how, in the game, your objective was to take customers from one little island to another, trying very hard not to crash into anything. You could accidentally crash by not having your landing gear out when you were approaching the pad, or you could just be going too fast. One of the things that I used to do, just because it made me laugh so hard, was to run over the little block customer. Fortunately, I’ve outgrown such sadism, but I see it in my son when he pushes the Lego R2-D2 off a cliff in Lego Star Wars, just to hear him scream. I assume he’ll outgrow it someday, too, but for now, I’m not terribly worried about it.

For me, the best part was that after hearing me describe how much fun it was to play the game, my son wanted to act out the picking up and dropping off of taxi customers from one of my hands to another. The kid had never seen it, had only seen me gesture with my hands in a general ‘You do this and then that’ kind of way, but he wanted to ‘play’ it with me.

He’s a good boy. Whatever else happens with him, behavior-wise—green light, yellow light, or even, God forbid, red light in the kindergarten room—the boy wanted to help me recreate my favorite video game.

I couldn’t be prouder of him.

No comments:

Post a Comment