My parents never liked the vidja gayms. They rot your brain, apparently. Mindless, useless, wastes of time staring at a flickering screen.
They didn’t like birthdays, or various bits of essential medical treatment either, so I’m glad I didn’t listen to them.
Over the past few months, Pam (6) has got into video games in a big way. She’d played Pokémon Go obsessively, and she still likes Magikarp Jump, but those were really fuelled by her love of Pokémon rather than a love of games.
She wasn’t really interested in anything if it wasn’t Pokémon.
Things changed when we got Sega Classics.
To start off, she played Toejam and Earl (because we could play it together and I could help her out), and the Sonic games, favouring Sonic 2 because of Tails. Cuteness rules her world, of course. That led her to Flicky, and that’s when things got interesting.
“Mama, it’s gone wrong. It keeps restarting.”
“Oh, ok, show me?”
If you’ve played Flicky, you’ll know it’s unforgiving. Games can last less than a minute when you start learning it.
Pam was learning. Specifically, she was learning that older games are tough. None of the constant progression if you wait long enough, that modern mobile games have. No, this was the original git gud.
The cat bumped into Flicky? GAME OVER.
You hit the spikes in Sonic? GAME OVER.
Fell off the edge in Golden Axe? GAME OVER.
Do it all over again.
We’ve noticed a difference in her over the past month. Usually, she would be hesitant to try new things. She’d do them, but given the choice between playing something new, or watching a familiar episode of Pokémon, she’d choose Pokémon every time. But now, things are different. Given the large library of games in Sega Classics, she’s exploring them and picking ones at random. She’s found that she likes Ecco the Dolphin, too.
Her cries of “I can’t do it. It’s too tricky,” have almost gone. Now it’s a silent, resilient determination to win. Things aren’t “too tricky” any more, either. They’re “tricky like Flicky” now.
Her hand-eye coordination has improved. Her cooperation has improved. Her willingness to do work in order to get rewards has improved. Her concentration has improved.
She’s also learned about how skills transfer. To my surprise, she keeps returning to Golden Axe 2, which is the best in the series, but I didn’t think she’d like that style of game. She loves it though. So when she fired up Streets of Rage 2 (again, impeccable taste!) she said, “Mama, I thought older games were hard, but this one is easy!”
“Yes, that’s because you learned how to play this type of game when you played Golden Axe.”
“Oh, I didn’t know you could do that!”
“Yes babe, it’s called being able to transfer a skill, and it’s probably one of the most important things you can learn – that what you learn in one place can help you in other places too.”
So now she’s trying new things with glee, which has led her to Steven Universe.
I’m not complaining!