Parent’s Just Don’t Understand… Yet?
Our parents are great, for the most part. When we are too small to defend or feed ourselves, they take care of us. As we grow and mature, they guide and nurture us so that we can become fully functional human beings, and not the equivalent of lower primates, sitting in trees flinging our own crap at each other (thank you Red Forman). But one area where most parents don’t quite have the ability to be the all-knowing influence they would like to be: video games.
When I was growing up playing tag and hide-and-seek, my parents totally understood. They would ask how the game went, where I was hiding, what kind of tag rules I played with – they were very involved, because they could relate my experience to their own. However, when I picked up my first Genesis game, they watched Sonic the Hedgehog like he was an alien from outer space (wait, was he?), shook their heads, and left the room. Thus ended my parent’s ability to fully understand me – from that day forward, there would always be that barrier between us – the invisible yet impassable wall made of 1-ups and gold coins.
But will it always be this way? Should I ever be unfortunate enough to have a pack of small versions of me running around underfoot, will I end up leaving them to their own devices when it comes to electronic entertainment? Or will I be able to enjoy a visit with them to our very own holodeck (wishful thinking, I know) once in a while?
We know that most parents of the young (18 and under) gaming demographic right now, as well as the parents of my generation, the old guard of gaming (22-30 as of 2009) are lost when it comes to games. This is mostly because games they played when they were young were not video games. Board games and outdoor games were the pastimes of the day. If kids today suddenly picked up jacks or kick the can, their grandparents would be all over it. Any video games that these parents played were arcade games at best – a far cry from the Super Nintendo.
The difference there is that when my generation starts having kids (and some unlucky and/or stupid members already have), what kind of tech-savvy parents will we be? I’m sure that there will be the parents who just don’t get it, and that’s fine. But consider that our generation was the first real generation to have the bridge between adult’s childhood games and their children’s games blown to pieces by the advent of console gaming, leaving them to stare across the gap at their offspring playing games they could barely understand. Believe me when I tell you tag has been around forever. Your parents and their parents never reached an impasse because Grandpa couldn’t understand what was going on in hide-and-seek. So is it so revolutionary that we may be able to relate better to the next generation than our parents could with us? Or were Mom and Dad the exception to the rule?
I think it will be interesting to see whether or not the developing demographic of casual gamers rises to the challenge to understand and appreciate their kids’ new games. It might be depressing and embarrassing to be the guy who has to say to his kid “In my day, we had to play video games with controllers! On TV screens! That’s television, son! And we were thankful!” However, if you sit with the kid after your rant, and see what the new game is for the PS4000, you might just earn his respect. At least until you slip gradually into senility and start cursing at the child while making obscene gestures every time you lose (although a symptom of senility, this is also a symptom of FAIL).
The last time I talked to my mom about video games was actually not that long ago. I asked her (with this article in mind) the last video game she had played besides the ill fated night she tried to play GoldenEye on the N64 with my brothers and I (good night, by the way – she spent 5 straight minutes trying to shoot out a camera with dual RCP90′s – and infinite ammo). She then told me that I should be proud to have a mother who could beat my father at Donkey Kong Jr. at the arcade when they were young lovers. I was blown away! Could this veneer of kindness, smiles and silly voices hide an inner core of gaming prowess that I simply never noticed before? Time for a follow-up question. Say Mom, you played Donkey Kong Jr., so you must remember Pac-Man, right?
“Oh yeah. He eats things, and…”
Yeah, I know. I laughed too.
If you have any hilarious stories about your parents/kids and video gaming, or the opposite event of a parent stomping you in Halo or Mario Kart, let me know below. This might even lead to a Top 5 List!