And so it was, with great fanfare, that I ushered my sons out to the garage Wednesday night, when they probably should have already been in bed (especially with their impending return to school), sat them down on the old recliners and fired up the Atari 2600. And so it was with quite the exact opposite of great fanfare, my sons' reaction to the awesomeness that was old school games came with a resounding, "Meh."
Surprise and disappointment would not even begin to describe my feelings at the moment. I was hit square in the jaw by the disheartening, soul-crushing reality that the detail and immersive nature of modern video games left my boys completely devoid of appreciation for something that had absolutely floored me at their ages. I sat dumbfounded by the fact that their ability to move a blob of blocks around the screen did not completely set their imaginations aflame.
However, I quickly gathered myself and thought that perhaps if a single game did not wow them sufficiently, the body of my old Atari library would eventually win them over.
The bombardment began. I forced them to fight back as the alien hordes of Space Invaders bore down upon their laser cannon. They piloted their own tiny, blocky snow speeder in The Empire Strikes Back. I saw them as trapped mice to my cat-like paws as I attempted to ramp up the tension and excitement as they navigated the four monster infested floors of Haunted House by candlelight and slew dragons with a pixelated arrow...er, I mean sword in the harrowing Adventure. More titles followed. Missile Command, Star Master, and Defender brought no change in their reaction. They only seemed to grow more annoyed at my desperation. I even tried Oink and Dolphin and in a last ditch, nearly catastrophic move, thought Math would somehow grab their attention.
None of it worked.
With sadness in my heart, I flipped the leftmost switch to off and prepared to send them back inside to play newer, more highly developed, but nowhere near as historical video games. Just before I could speak the words releasing them from the father's imposed video game prison, however, my oldest son asked a question.
Hope sparked somewhere inside of me. I dug through the old cardboard box, produced two sets of paddles and plugged them in to the old dinosaur. Within minutes, my sons and I were laughing and hurling both trash talk and lightening balls (because you can catch those, not fireballs) at one another's castles, of course making sure that the green computer player was dispatched first.
|Artist's rendering of the epic battle|
It was a proud moment for me as I lost both rounds of play after revealing my tactical advantage that a king's ghost could alter the path of one's thrown ball.
It was a successful day in the end. I tucked them both into bed and we promised we would find time to play again soon. Then, I headed right back out to the garage and played a few more rounds. I also made a point of marking the paddle with the best sensitivity so that I can just happen to pull that one the next time we play.