Saturday, April 24, 2010

I Long For Pong...

Right up front, I'm not very "tech savvy". I remember when it was just pencil and paper and the most popular way to write something very fast, the typewriter. You could even make a couple of copies of what you were typing by using carbon paper. Go ask your 13 year old child if he or she knows what carbon paper is, or if they can use it in a sentence. Then, ask the same child to program your new cell phone or set up your new Facebook account. You get the point.
The only way for kids to entertain themselves when I was young was to go outside and play with other kids. Unheard of today. If you can get your kids to leave their rooms long enough to pick up a sandwich from the kitchen you're doing good.

They have a computer loaded with gaming software or they can play directly online against other kids anywhere in the country. And if they do leave their room they might make it as far as the living room sofa where they will whip out their portable video game and resume play, in between bites of pizza rolls. Those portable game machines all have their own coded names that to us old-timers reminds us of the original Star Wars movie; PVP, PSP,PMP, PS2, MP3, or what I thought was a place for kids to go outside and play together, the Playstation.

On the days they are forced to leave the sanctuary of their room and forced to go to school, they will throw their portable video game into their backpack and sneak it into school or they'll fall back on the most primitive tool they own, their game-laden cell phone.

We now have so many games and other electronic gadgets that it's like another language has been invented and only people under 40 can understand it. Not saying that if you are over 40 you wouldn't know these terms, but you probably had to go to night school to learn it.

There's the game called "Wii", pronounced "we" and I had a terrible time figuring out what a couple of my neices were talking about when they asked me to play. It was like we were acting out "Who's On First" by Abbott and Costello. 
-"You want to play wii with us"?, they asked. 
-"We?", I responded. 
-"Yes, Wii", they chimed. 
-"Oh, 'Oui, Oui'", I playfully said using my best French accent. 
-"No, just Wii" they said slowly as they looked at each other like I was now the crazy uncle in the family. You get the point.

Then there's the iPhone, the iPod, and the iPad (which I believe is a new electronic feminine product. Not sure I want to know about that).

I admit that I'm not in the loop and far behind the new technology but I can use a computer a little. I pretend it's actually a typewriter without the little "ding" sound when you return to a new line. I can send and receive simple emails but none with all that fancy backgrounds and smiley thingys floating all around. I have even managed to play regular solitaire on it but I still haven't come close to figuring out "Minesweeper".

But I am OK with my lack of knowledge of this electronic-aged language and my lack of ability to understand how to play any of the games. I'm still content with remembering how we played "Cowboys and Indians" or "Army" outside or how we made giant pretend highways in the dirt with our Tonka trucks. On rainy days we played in our rooms and simply made our roads across carpet instead of dirt. Our sisters had their dolls and played dress-up. We would even kidnap a doll on occasion using out Army men and tie it up as if it was an Amazon Woman from another planet.

And our most eagerly awaited event of all was Saturday morning cartoons! We would wait all week to watch Tom & Jerry, Bugs Bunny, Popeye, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. Of course nowadays kids can watch cartoons 7 days a week and at any time of day on cable. If you can pull them away from their video games.

But I can understand to some degree the video addiction that kids have today. I can remember when the very FIRST video game came out. In 1972, Atari introduced America to "Pong". 
Pong quickly became a success and is the first commercially successful video game, which led to the start of the video game industry. Soon after its release, several companies began producing games that copied Pong's gameplay, and eventually released new types of games.

The game was initially 6 feet tall and was only found in arcades or bars. I was in my early twenties and I spent a lot of quarters on that game. I'll let you figure out where I found one to play... 

During the 1975 Christmas season, Atari released a home version of Pong exclusively through Sears retail stores. It was also a commercial success and led to numerous copies.

So I can sort of feel the excitement of today's kids when they discover a new game, gadget or "App". I had a similar feeling when I first played Pong and then later playing that worse than herion-addicting game, Pac Man.

I only wish they spent a little more time trying to get good grades in school or spending more time with their friends getting real dirt on their clothes while playing outside instead of juice-box stains on their shirts and the carpet.

 And so I will finish my post (a piece of timber or metal fixed firmly in an upright position especially as a stay or support) and my blog ( a web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections and comments provided by the writer) will be finished for the day.

Hang in there you other old-timers and remember..these video-junkie kids will someday grow up and have kids of their own. And when they can't get their kids to come back from playing ZumBall XR9 from the12th dimension and eat dinner, who'll be laughing then?

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