I was born at the beginning of the Millennium generation. How do I know that? My parents bought us a computer when I was eight years old.
Go on, laugh you younger Millennials. I won’t even tell you what it looked like or how many bytes of RAM it had (not a lot.) You can look it up on Wikipedia anyway.
Everyone from my generation onwards has some sort of relationship with video games. Those who don’t live under rocks. Curiously, mine has always been a more observational role rather than participatory. I’ll explain why.
As a child, I had an IBM personal computer 2. The elementary school where I attended had a computer teacher who took a shining to my sister and I and he provided us with quite a few games for our own machine. Our collection of floppy disks was pretty impressive.
The games we’d play were often educational, since he was a teacher after all. I remember being particuarly fond of Mixed-Up Mother Goose when I was really young, then transitioning to Where in the World (or Time) is Carmen Sandiego?, the Super Solvers series like Midnight Rescue, and Operation Neptune, which was a math game that frustrated me at first until I began to understand concepts.
But what I really wanted was a Nintendo.
Specifically a Super Nintendo, so I could play Super Mario World. I would do anything to play it and often overstayed my welcome in many a friend’s house because of it. But, for whatever reason, be it financial or idealogical, I was never granted full access to SNES by becoming the proud owner of one. And trust me, I’m pretty sure it was both a financial and idealogical reason for me not to have my own.
I remember hearing my mother calling these types of games “stupid”. I certainly didn’t agree, but there was little in my control over that situation. She held the purse strings after all. To be fair, my mom also thought The Simpsons was a dumb TV show. And to her ears and eyes it did look stupid. Her command of English is not as strong as my own. To her these were just weird, yellow characters saying stupid things in loud, obnoxious voices. What I picked up on very quickly was the wordplay, which I had begun to already learn through the various computer video games I’d been granted access to. Thanks Mama!
When it did become financially feasible for me to get my greedy paws on a system, the video game world had actually moved onto bigger and better things. My first console was actually a Playstation 2.
I was excited to get it. My current boyfriend at the time offered it to me when he upgraded to the next system and I accepted readily, imagining days and nights spent in front of the tube catching up on all the gametime I’ve been missing all these years. But when I fired it up, I was surprised to find that none of the games I had were capable of holding my attention. Even worse, I wasn’t enjoying the play time.
So I quickly dropped it. I think I threw out the system after the break-up. Sorry Gord.
Here’s the funny thing: I love video games. I still don’t play them unless I’m coerced and I’m pliable enough to acquiesce. But I love to watch them. Video games are that pleasurable distraction, but I like the ones with a bit of substance. I’d never thought I’d ever say this but GTA 5 is one of my favourite games. To watch. And sometimes attempt to drive in. I’m better at driving in person. The wonderful part of GTA is that the online world is constantly adapting and so the game continues to change, thus keeping a lot of people interested. And let me be clear, I don’t sit in front of the TV slavishly while my boyfriend plays. It’s a source of relaxation for him and a great bit of background noise for me that I can choose whether I want to pay attention to or not.
And as for video games that I’m actually playing? I continue to be horribly boring. My latest obsession is 2048. Built by a 20 year-old Italian, born well into the Millennium generation. I bet he likes video games too.