Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Video Games

Hey, you parents out there--yeah, you--the ones who don't let their kids play video games. Listen up! I heard about a study that says they might not be so bad after all. Of course I didn't listen to the ENTIRE story--after all, I don't have kids so what do I care? (Kidding--I care about the planet, blah blah blah.)

Anyway, like I say, I quickly tuned out and started reminiscing about the time I fell in love with Super Mario Brothers. Oh. My. God. I was addicted (which, come to think of it, may be a precursor to my falling in love with video slots, but I digress).

For those of you not familiar (and, geez, where were YOU in the 80's?) Mario Brothers came with Ninentdo and involved this little guy you had to maneuver through four worlds (each consisting of four levels) to save the princess. Co-worker John's son Jeremiah (who was young at the time--now HE'S a co-worker) introduced me to it. After thirty minutes, I HAD TO HAVE THIS GAME, so I ran out and got my own.

Here's what I learned...pretty much in the order I learned it.

1. Hand/eye coordination. Duh, that one's self-explanatory.

2. Daunting tasks can be broken down into smaller, doable components.

See, it took me forever to get past the first level of the first world. But once I mastered it, I began to feel more confident in my skills and realized I had to look at the game piece by piece.

3. Seemingly impossible tasks can be mastered with practice.

See, each time I got to a new level (with its associated rise in required skill), I thought: "Man, I'll NEVER be able to do this." Well, endless hours later, I always graduated to the next level.

4. Think outside the box.

See, in the first level, you learn that by jumping high and hitting stuff, you release hidden coins that do something (I forget what). So, naturally, I fell into a pattern of jumping high and hitting coins. Then, for example, one day I looked at the screen and realized just because the brick wall framed the picture, didn't mean I couldn't send my guy up there. Sure enough, I jumped really, really, high and was able to run across the entire level, avoiding all the obstacles.

5. It's the journey, not the destination.

When I finally saved the princess, it was kind of a letdown. I never played again.

Still...look how much I learned about life. Definitely worth staying up to the wee small hours. Definitely worth the muscle relaxants I had to take to ease the ache in my back from sitting hunched over and my thumbs from staying frozen to the console for too long.

So, folks. Don't come down too hard on your kids for playing video games. Unless they have titles like Megadeath or Debby Does Duluth. Although come to think of it, there's probably plenty to learn from that second one, too.....

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