Go Out and Play!

While eating dinner last night with my wife and my parents, the discussion turned to raising children and the amount of computer of console time children should have as opposed to going outside and play. I cannot tell you how many times I heard that from my mother growing up. But when I in my early childhood (born in 1969), it was the mid 1970’s moving quickly into the 1980’s and the computer revolution.

I was blessed to have a father who was into electronic gadgets. He was an amateur radio operator and it was not long after the introduction of Pong in 1975, our family owned a system of our own. Shortly after the introduction of the Apple][ + from a local computer store. Compared to today’s computer, the Apple was nothing, when compared to systems like the TRS-80 or the Commadore-64. The Apple was touted as a “learning computer.”

When it came to education, I was not the best student, like many others I played too much and sometimes did not take studying serious. But one advantage I had was our Apple. Teachers loved the machine, because at this time there were very few computers being used by schools. All my reports were typed using a new idea called a word processor. Needless to say, teachers were impressed with the formatting and the easy reading, which probably gave me a bit of an advantage when it come to the actual content.

While my priorities were still that of a child, play, computer and school, I did remain active. I was able to manage my time (maybe that was my parents managing it for me) growing up, never being allowed to sit in front of the Atari or Apple for ungodly periods of time. Although, Lemonade Stand was damned addicting to play!High school saw the introduction of a new player into my life, girls (no, not women yet…but close). My studies continued to slip, as sports took priority (a three sport letter man in high school) especially baseball. I continued to use the computer as much as possible, learning how to program (all hail BASIC), while writing a few games and actually using the computer more for school…ooh yeah and also to manage my football pool.

By my high school years (1983-1987) computers were here to stay. While the Apple was still a learning machine, the PC is where the computer game craze began. I would wander the aisles of stores looking for games and finding Apple had a very limited selection, it really wasn’t until the Macintosh came along that more (still very few by comparison) game were made available. I would wish that my computer would play that game.

Fast forward to 1998, this is where I got my first taste of PC gaming, introduced by a roommate playing Quake 2. I was take in, hook, line and sinker. Much of my life (age 29 now) was centered on my relationship, flying and my career. But that all changed with Quake 2. I spent many hours, including sleepless nights learning the game, tactics and more information that I could comprehend. It only worsened when I returned to Los Angeles and got hooked up with a weekly group at something called a “LAN party.”

The rest, as they say is history. I learned most of my computer knowledge at these parties, from gaming to hardware and software to drinking good Tequila! I enrolled in A+ Certification and received my MCSE and Novell certificate in order to start a new career (that never materialized). I started building my own PCs and helping others repair theirs. I got so involved in gaming, I wrote articles for web sites such as Planetquake, was in charge of the Action Quake Map Depot and even started my own web site called Oswald’s 6th Floor (probably the first known link out there).

What am I getting at here aside from a bit of history? Basically there is a difference of opinion, between myself and wife when it comes to allowing our child to play console and computer games. Unlike 30 years ago, where kids were relatively safe playing outside, acting out war scenes or sci-fi movies, playing in the dirt and with make believe guns, time have changed and parents are not so trusting to let their kids go play unsupervised.

I am sure my wife will agree that our son, Zachary will be introduction to computer games at an early age. I think we will also agree that consoles and computers will not rule his life and that hopefully with our guidance he will be active taking an interest in sports or something outside of computer gaming.

do think that the future is going to become more and more technical, which means computers are going to play a larger part in his growing up than they did mine. Learning, actually learning is something that will take place on a computer. I’m not talking about shooting people or killing monsters, but learning that will help him grow.

Hey, I didn’t turn out bad? And my nasty computer habit has been curtailed quite a bit over recent years, since I found out love was a powerful thing when I met and courted my wife. Hopefully our son will have a chance to be active and grow, with friends he can go out and play with, while learning and yes, playing games over the Internet with other gamers.