My eldest daughter ran up to my wife the other day and beamingly declared that she’d reached level eight on her pogo stick.
My wife looked puzzled.
“Level eight, you know. I did 80 bounces without stopping,” the eight-year-old said.
“Oh, okay,” Mum answered.
The pogo stick, of course, is not virtual. It is real. It’s the terminology she used that is high-tech, learned from friends and the world of PlayStation, Xbox and Wii. My three children don’t play video games. Not yet. My eldest daughter has had a run on her cell phone. Yes, a cell phone. Her grandparents bought it for her in England. It doesn’t work in Argentina as a phone. And she lost the recharging cable so alas no more Tetris or whatever else she was playing. She’s only got non-electronic toys – and the terminology of games consoles.
We’re not against video games as parents.
To be fair, I probably spent more than 3,000 quarters mastering Pac-Man on my walks home from elementary school in West Los Angeles. Yes, elementary school. It was probably in the sixth grade. A gang of us would walk home along San Vicente Blvd. in Brentwood and stop at the drugstores, line up our quarters on the Pac-Man machine, have a go and strive to get to the highest levels possible. We’d run out of quarters and walk home, taking detours to play elevator tag in the office buildings before getting chased out by hapless security guards and told off by bewildered executives.
My wife loves playing Solitaire on her iPod, not that she gets the time. But before becoming a driven-into-the-ground mother of three, she spent maybe a month of pregnancy building a glorious empire in Civilization until World War 8 killed off her people. She was into the game, totally. It was addictive. I even had a whack and lasted maybe an hour before she told me to hutch over and let the pregnant woman show me how it’s done.
Yes, video games are addictive. They are fun. And they are everywhere.
Except in our house.
Will our children grow up weird, i.e. like in the film version of Nick Hornby’s About a Boy?
I don’t think so.
My daughter just rushed into the house and declared that she’s at level nine and going for level 10 as soon as her hands warm up again. It’s winter and a cold front has blown in. She’s not pogoing in front of a Wii. This is in the fresh air of the courtyard, in the elements of nature.
I told her to wait for me. I’ll try to get to level one.