Generations: The Games Children Play

I grew up on Archie comicbooks, Superbook and coloring books. I had stacks of paper dolls worn from constant reuse; and sketch pads with worn pages and filled with childish scribbles in crayons and pencil.

Growing up with a brother less than 2 years older than I am, we’ve together narrowly escaped pretending to be taking a siesta once too often while trying to discreetly mimic the wrestling moves we see every day in the World Wrestling Federation. The few times we were caught, we’d be facing a furious mom telling my brother that if he wanted to kill me from the body slam he liked trying on me, we can experiment throwing his little sister – me – down the stairs so the impact of the body slam would be greater. (Of course I only found out recently that in his mind, my brother was actually thinking – Oh Wow! Can we, really???).

Our playroom contained shelves-full of my brother’s action figures, gigantic He-Man castles and Voltes V robots. My side of the room was littered was stuffed toys, dolls and play kitchen sets. An occasional box or two of Lego would surface. Sometimes Play Doh, much to my mom’s chagrin.

Our share of cartoons was often spent sitting on our designated chairs on Saturday mornings for the weekly Fun Machine with the Great Space Coaster, Yogi Bear, Captain Caveman and Uncle Bob.

Weekends, I spent hours playing make-believe housekeeping, school and dream vacations with my cousins while we would sprawl her huge blankets over the living room couch and create make-believe camping tents. By the end of the day, my cousin would be in my grandmother’s bedroom sulking — and I’d be in the living room couch sulking too. For the life of me I can’t remember the things we fought about. Every night before we went home though, we made it a point to be friends again.

All these things made for great years of fun, imagination and crazy antics that made my childhood extra rich in color and fantasy.

I am aghast today watching my niece and her friends live their childhood very differently from how I did. Children’s fantasy nowadays consists of little electronic toys gadgets, game consoles and shiny, little round things called DVDs that play cartoons, movies and video games. My 9-year old niece, Maia, spends hours during our family get-togethers hunched over my 23-year old brother’s Nintendo DS and PSP playing Pokemon and god-knows-what-else is brewing inside those little things.

Give Maia a cellphone — running on any OS — and she’ll figure it out faster than my own brother and sister-in-law could.

At the height of the Farmville fame, she managed to create one of the prettiest and most productive farms on Farmville in my neighborhood. Her mom couldn’t keep up. She used to visit my farm everyday and try to help manage my dead crops and starving farm animals, until she cried out with frustration one day that I don’t care about my farm anyway so why should she continue helping me.

It’s not just Maia. One Holy Week a few years ago, a good friend of ours called us and asked if he could borrow our Wii console for the break. He needed it because his 8-year old daughter’s cousins are staying over at their place, and he promised them they could spend all their time playing Wii during the break.

My childhood affair with video games was limited to visiting the PacMan and Space Invader arcade machines in Greenhills or Green Valley, Baguio.

Atari made it to our home when I was a tween, but it was something my dad and mom enjoyed much more than I did.

Of course technology eventually made its way into our home. Eventually we had our first home computer running on DOS with Wordstar and Page Maker being the coolest things to hit the computing world.

Much later on, the entire family adopted our very first Nintendo Family Computer which made for more hours of kids and adults soaked in Tetris, Contra and Mario Bros.

Looking back, while it seemed awesome having video games to play with at your disposal (without needing coins to power the machine), I remember getting bored easily and eventually wanting to get back to my Sweet Valley High and Sweet Dreams books. Or conjuring imaginary adventures with my favorite action figures She-Ra, Swiftwind and Double Trouble.

Watching kids of today bury their heads in game consoles or cellphones makes we nostalgic for the kind of childhood I (and my generation) still managed to enjoy. We, the Gen X’ers I believe, were the lucky bunch who managed to straddle both worlds. The world make-believe that happens in our heads; and the world of make-believe on the screens of these high-tech gadgets and consoles.

While I am a proud aunt of a niece who’s more intelligent that my genius brother and sister-in-law combined; while she devours  books with as much ferocity as I do (she has the complete collection of Nancy Drew; she finished Harry Potter Book 7 in just 3 days); and while she inherits my love of writing and creates masterpieces of short stories and poems — I nonetheless wish for her and for my future kids the chance to draw from their own imaginations from a blank canvass of a childhood uncomplicated by the convenience of the high-tech life.

While there’s certainly nothing wrong with making sure kids are new-generation savvy, there’s nothing that compares to the charm, the innocence, the perfection of a child free to run around and explore the real world. The colorful sights, the natural sounds, the earthy smells of soil and sweat, the company of other children, the highs and lows of childhood that made everything absolutely A-OK.

“Generations”  is a new feature in lovesstories that takes a closer look at how 15-20 years makes a huge difference in society and culture today. Stay tuned for more “Generations” posts in the coming weeks and months. Cheers!

Photos displayed were taken from various sites on google image. You may click the photo to find the original link of where the photos were taken.

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