February 25, 2010

Third day of writing a daily log, and I have writer’s block.  Actually, once I have a couple sips of coffee, I’ll be off and running.

Now, this may land me in a bit of trouble with my mother, but what the heck… these weblogs are our own thoughts and opinions, and I, as well as her and everyone else who writes one, should be allowed to say whatever they like.  I just want to say a word (or several, actually) in response to her comments (http://www.bettyneedshelp.blogspot.com/ – February 21, 2010) about Facebook and games.

Let me take you back, way back, to when I was a kid.  My parents had a general store in a little putt-putt village called Granton, in southern Ontario… about 1/2 drive north of London.  As a kid, and they probably don’t know this, this had to be one of the most boring and sort of interesting times of my remembered childhood.  Small village (Pop. 365, Yee-haw!), so not a hell of a lot to do.  Owning the general store, well, that was the interesting part.

Anyhow, they had decided to get, what was then, the newest little gadget to come along.  It was called PONG!.  I’m not sure what the actual brand name was, but this thing hooked up to the T.V., and with the flip of a switch (A, B, C) you could play one of three versions of a little ball bleeping across the screen.  Wow, the first video game.  I wonder where that machine is now?  The Smithsonian?

As I got older, video games became a little more popular.  Nintendo, Sega, and yes, as a young adult living in Ottawa, I too, had a Sega video game system.  It came with a unit that hooked up to the T.V., a couple of joysticks, and you could buy game cartridges.  My favourite games happened to be Galaga and Mario Brothers.

However, around that time, I suppose, I grew up, or became an adult.  Video games became more passé.  The Sega didn’t get used as much, the games were no longer interesting, and you couldn’t download updates to the programs.  Once you completed the levels, what was left?  A bunch of wires and plastic.  Then, along came Gameboy.  Gotta have it!  It was the first hand-held gaming system.  Now, you could play your favourite games anywhere, anytime.  Albeit, the display was in black and white, but hey, so was the T.V. when it made its first appearance.

Again, same thing happened – became passé.  The display wouldn’t display properly, game would shut down… so, it ended up in a box somewhere, and is probably now, well, on it’s way back to being part of mother earth.

Years go by.  I begin teaching in Taiwan.  All I ever hear from students, why they didn’t have time to do my homework, is because they were playing video games.  So, here’s the age of computers.  Not to sound old, but kids today, at least what I see, couldn’t survive without the computer.  There is no such thing as going to the park to play baseball, when there is a good online game of baseball.  No street hockey, no hide-and-go-seek with the neighbour kids… And who doesn’t want to see ninja’s hacking apart their mortal enemies, blood splattering all over the screen?!  Yes, PONG has come quite a way.  From a little blip of light rocking back and forth across your T.V. screen, to blood stains.

So, here I am now, 1/4 of the way through my anticipated lifespan (yes, I said 1/4 – I want to live to be 200!).  I finally submit and get registered with Facebook, and believe me, that part is not bad.  I start by playing a rather innocuous game, FarmVille.  I already have a similar app for my iPhone – two actually (iFarm and Tap Farm).  Over the past month or so, I’ve become rather bored with them, and stopped wasting my time trying to get trophies and money.  I mean, it’s all virtual, it’s not real, and it takes a lot of time.  Especially when your crop dies, and you have wait for 24 hours to get enough money to buy new seeds!  A penalty for not playing the game! Hmm…

In my mother’s blog (http://www.bettyneedshelp.blogspot.com/ – February 21, 2010), she comments on this topic.  Maybe because she grew up in the country, growing and harvesting crops and trees, raising animals and building farms, is just not for her anymore.  However, playing for imaginary money is!  Okay, the logic behind this, baffles me.  Yes, FarmVille is all about begging for your neighbours’ help, but for me, it is also a way to get in a comment here or there, hoping that my relatives see that I am still here, and that I’m not gone.  Sure, there are scams all over the internet how to get to level 1,000,000 in three days (whatever), but what is the fun in that?

I play these games more for the fun.  Take the slots and pull tabs.  It’s a hell of a lot cheaper, and just as frustrating, to pull 250 pull tabs, and win nothing, or playing a game of virtual bingo, where it sounds and feels like you’re right there in the bingo parlour/hall.  People write comments on the chat board, just as they would chat with each other across a table.  You still wait, after 65 numbers have been called, to get your one number you’ve been waiting for since the 40th number was called.

To me, these games are fun.  Yes they take time, but they are a way of keeping in contact with people.  For someone like me, half-way around planet Earth, it is a way for me to keep in contact with my family.  And, since most of them play FarmVille, and several of my contacts in Tainan also play the game, hey, it’s still pretty fun.  My students now think I’m kinda cool in that I’m playing something THEY play.  They’re even helping me to fertilize my crops, now how rewarding is that?  My CHINESE speaking students, helping me on an English game program, and actually having something to talk to me about  – in ENGLISH!

Hearing these students talking to me in English, is worth trying to get my damn stable built.  The best part – it’s all free!



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2 responses to “February 25, 2010

  1. Hell son, I’m not upset. Everything you wrote is true. I didn’t intend to upset anyone, just make the point that for me, it’s just not MY thing. I tried it a year ago, planted tomato plants and the damn things died.
    The spring came and I planted the real thing and guess what? Yeah, they died.
    Now I play virtual poker, make a $1,902,786 and sit back and watch it disappear. Just goes to show, that the more something seems new, it’s remains the same.
    I will now wait until spring and play in the real dirt, pull real weeds and hope to hell I get something real for my time and effort.
    Good blog – carry on.

  2. Robin

    Wow! Pong is such a classic!

    I, too, grew up with Nintendo an Sega. After moving out of my childhood home, video games seemed to disappear from my new life.

    Now that I have children of my own, I’ve been forced back to living with video games. Started with a PS2, then moved on to the Wii. My boys both have Nintendo DS’s and my husband has a PSP. There are games available for the newer systems OF the older games, and I must say, Galaga is one of my favourites! It’s funny to see how long I can play it, how big my score gets, and the boys think I’m AMAZING! But, I can’t hold a match to them playing games on the new systems! They are the amazing ones!

    Now, although the boys do play a lot of video games and spend time on the computer, they do spend time outside. In Canada, in the winter you can find them playing outside in the snow or playing one-on-one hockey and in the summer they play baseball just about every day. It’s a balance (along with homework!) that is hard to find, but we strive to do it every day. I refuse to hear excuses that they can’t finish their homework because they are playing video games. Homework is done first. That’s how I work.

    As for Farmville, I play this online game as well. For fun. Sometimes I just need a break to do something that takes my mind off of everything else, and it’s a game where I can keep in contact with my kids and other family members.

    Although I do miss Pong…

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