On the Subject of Video Game Systems


Daniel’s big Christmas present this year was a Nintendo Wii system.  This is just the latest in a long line of video game systems that we’ve owned over the years.  My first system was from Sears: the Tele-Games.  It boasted about 48 different video games in a single wood paneled console.  I had badminton and racquetball, tennis and table tennis.  I even had jai alai (whatever the heck that is).  It didn’t take long to figure out that all 48 games bore a suspicious similarity to Pong: two rectangles trying to hit a square back and forth.

Meka is a big fan of The Legend of Zelda.  Nintendo’s marketing strategy seems to be release a single Zelda game per system.  I think we own every flavor of Game Boy they’ve ever built along with a number of home units going back to the original NES that Meka had as a girl.  While my Tele-Games system is (mercifully) long gone, we do have an Atari hooked up in the basement along with all the Nintendo machines of varying bit quantity.  Daniel started out playing these games when he about five.  One of his early favorites was Asteroids.  I remember Daniel rolling around lumps of Play-Doh on the kitchen table.  Every once in awhile, he would say “doo!” and pinch off a bit of dough from one of the lumps.  I liked to play Asteroids with Daniel, but wasn’t too wild about the others.  The Atari joystick had a single red button; I understood that.  I always had trouble with the NES controller.  I could never remember how to do a jump.  My Mario continually marched off the cliff like a lemming.

We let Daniel play video games for an hour a day.  During Christmas vacation, he woke me up first thing in the morning, asking if he could play before breakfast.  Sure.  He ran out and I got up to take a shower.  To my surprise, when I got downstairs the TV was off and Daniel was nowhere to be found.  I finally heard faint synthesizer music from the basement.  Daniel was down there, playing one of the racing games available for the SNES.

“I thought you’d be playing the Wii,” I said.  Daniel jumped a little.  He turned around, looking a little guilty.

“I like the Wii,” he said, “But I wanted to play something that I was good at for a little while.”  He finished his race a respectable second place.  We switched units and plugged the Asteroids cartridge into the Atari.

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