Friday, August 26, 2005

Generation: Nerd

Some people will try to tell you that nuclear proliferation is the most pressing issue of our time. True, somebody should probably start working on that. But I submit that we have an even more immediate problem: the first generation of fathers and sons fighting over the video game controller is almost upon us.

I know that we have this problem because my buddy recently lent me a video game, promising that it would bring me months of entertainment. I beat it in two days, but that’s not the point. The point is that we’re twenty-seven years old, and we’re still lending each other video games. The point is also that I just bragged about how long it took me to beat one of them. Every morning, I have to consciously place my hair over my bald spots, and yet only days ago I exterminated all the Metroid organisms on Planet Zebes. This is not right.

People my age, especially (and by especially I mean entirely) male people, are not giving up the video games. It’s becoming more and more apparent that the controllers will have to be pried from our warm, sweaty hands.

I suppose a benefit of our nerdiness is that we must have the best collective hand-eye coordination of any generation in the history of the planet. Most of us have twenty years of experience ignoring our own lives so that we could keep Space Invaders at bay, rescue princesses from turtle-like creatures and leave the fresh air outside for everyone else to breathe. We are a selfless bunch. If only we could develop a feasible alternative to an oil-based economy with a 17-button combination move, ending with a roundhouse kick that makes our opponent’s head explode, we’d really be getting somewhere.

Unfortunately, our hard-earned skills might soon be wasted. My friends are already starting to have children. Someday in the not-distant-enough future, those children are going to want the controller. The problem is upon us whether we choose to face it or not.

If you stop and listen, you can almost hear the impasse sneaking up on us, like a small Mario, before he bonks his head on a question mark, finds a mushroom and doubles in size. Should we continue to stand idly by, it’s only a matter of time before the problem finds a glowing daisy, at which point it will be too late, as the problem will then be able to shoot fireballs at us. For those readers who are unfamiliar with Super Mario Brothers, let me reframe the analogy: the problem is a cute little puppy right now. If we don’t act soon, the puppy may develop the ability to shoot fireballs at us.

We need to get our best people working on this. People like Buzz Aldrin and Cal Ripken, Jr. I don’t exactly know what they could do to help, but they sure seem like good guys.

The fact remains that fathers aren’t supposed to want to play video games in the first place. They’re supposed to pick up the controller for a moment, get smeared by their offspring and be the object of derision until they go back outside to mulch.
I recently had a vision: it's ten years from now, and I'm sitting on my hover-couch, playing "Grand Theft Auto: Neptune" on my PlayStation17. In wanders a little boy, looking just like a small version of me. I have a sense that I love this child; I want to protect him from the world while making sure he is prepared for everything it has in store for him.

The boy reaches for the controller with his little hands, and says, "Can I have a turn, Daddy?"

He looks at me expectantly with those eyes that are so much like my own, those little eyes that I love so much.

"Shouldn’t you be mowing the lawn?" I reply.


  1. I wondered why the boychild has taken such an interest in lawn maintenance! Damn that hubby and his calloused thumbs!

  2. LOL Mark one for the girls of your generation! This lady loves the video games! DH and I bought each other an Xbox two years ago for Christmas, after having to subdue of young children in the cart too many hours while "sampling" the games in the electronics aisle in Wal-Mart!

    While I love the graphics and sounds of modern video games, I miss the simple fun of the early games (Atari 2600's Pitfall, my beloved Colecovision's Donkey Kong/Donkey Kong, Jr.). Hell, I was around when Pong was big!!

    The video game was off limits to the kids, until just a few months ago. Our 7-year-old daughter discovered the joys of a joystick--are they still called that anymore?? In our game collection, there are only a couple of titles that she can play, and that's they way we plan on keeping it for a while!

    It's our game, after all!

    And, I told DH I've started to go in search for a classic Coleco system on Ebay! More fun for the holidays for me!!


  3. At least you didn't diss the great game of Pong. I won't hear a word said against it.

  4. > "Shouldn’t you be mowing the lawn?" I reply. *

  5. Where the hell have I been?!?! How have I missed this work of art over the past few days?

    As a young lad nearing his teens, I was all about the video games. I even hung out in seedy joints with names like "Alladin's Castle" and "Buddy's Mini Mart" playing Galaga, Qix, Tron, Pole Position, et al. For some reason, I lost interest in that pastime when I hit college (but I will admit, had there been a PS or XBox back then it might have been different.)

    JL- You're too young to be that nostalgic about Pong, dude! But it was blindingly good fun, eh? Trying to follow that square ball around without burning your retinas with all those streaks of light. . . .

  6. Dude - I remember waiting in line at Gibsons to get PacMan for Atari 2600. It sucked, but we played the crap out of it.

    Remember Burger Time? Those were the days.

    Thanks for the memories - Ben O.

  7. I thoroughly enjoy reading your humorous yet poignant (sp?) connections. Thanks for the comment on the photos.

  8. For some of us, it's too late, although I refuse to spend that much money for a new playstation, so it will be short-lived unless we can find some old games.

  9. I love video games. However we have refused to buy our 8 yr old any kind of xbox or nintendo. We buy him games he can play on the computer. I could go blind playing tetris and pac-man. YES THERE IS a SITE ONLINE TO PLAY PACMAN!!!!!!

  10. To Ben O.
    I will post this on my site too, here is the link to PacMan:

  11. Hey -- I just got back from vacation. Thanks for stopping by and dropping some comments like they're hot, all. Did I sound cool saying dropping them like they're hot? No? Gotcha.