We took Lukas to a local ice cream parlor this past weekend. It was a pretty cool establishment. In addition to home made ice cream and piped in rock music, they also had local brews - on tap (Admittedly, although an odd combination I did find this sort of...compelling). Plus, they also has a nice arcade section with a bunch of old school games, including pinball machines.
Now, as lame as this may confirm that I am, I will own up and admit it. I do not own an electronic game system.
That's right. I have no Xbox 360. No Playstation 3. Not even a Wii.
For whatever reason, ever since I entered adulthood, I have not played video games. Be it working on the house, or paying bills, reading, or getting out into the neighborhood with my family, I have prioritized gaming near the bottom of my 'free time' totem pole.
That wasn't always the case however. When we were nearing our teens, I'm sure after much begging and pleading, my folks presented my brother and I with an Atari 2600 game system. Excited, we played Space Invaders until our fingers bled. It was the Summer of
Whatever the year, that naturally led to my obsession, during high school, with a game that I found in a store nearby. I would often play Galaga nearly my whole lunch hour during either my Sophomore or Junior year. In fact, I played it so much that I became - what I am now sure was - the most revered player in all the land.
Okay, so my 'land' encompassed a town of only around 700 residents. That in no way diminishes, in my mind, the skill that I would daily put on display.
Oviously that was a looooong time ago. I've heard rumors that gaming has made a few advances since then. I probably check that out sometime. And since we haven't had even the most rudimentary game system, Lukas hasn't been exposed to electronic gaming.
That all changed a couple of months ago. That's when our son discovered that one of the settings on his toddler digital camera was loaded with a couple of games. He quickly picked up a matching game and proceeded to play it non stop until he had it figured out. A few weeks later we came across a Ms. Pacman game during a Ferry Ride. Lukas 'played' it (without quarters) for several minutes and was very animated.
On another more recent trip to the Seattle Waterfront, we found some age appropriate games for him to play which paid out tickets that could then be traded for prizes.
That brings us to the trip to the ice cream store Saturday. After finishing our cones, we ventured over to the games. Lukas and I played a couple of games of pinball on the Count Down space themed machine before moving down the row to see before us, none other than a Galaga machine.
We plunked in a quarter and played together. Lukas nearly screamed with excitement as we destroyed alien ships one after another during the first 2 levels. (Mrs. LIAYF tried to tell him we were "squirting" the ships, but I'm not sure he bought it). Our son was rapt. After that he stood aside and watched as his old man use that very same quarter to complete the next 8 levels.
It had come back to me like riding a bike. In the end, with big smiles we excitedly high-fived each other. It was a pretty fun father/son experience. Maybe even one that will cause me to rethink the value I put onto electronic gaming. (Waving hand in front of Mrs. LIAYF's face: "You did NOT read that last line")
I'm not sure where we will go from here. Christmas is coming after all.
Tell me readers, how much gaming do you, or did you let your young children participate in?