I did not expect this to be my first gaming post on this blog, because I have so much mental material (or materielles!) stock-piled like a nerdy Maginot line, but here we are.
When I grew up , a lot of people looked for ways to find self-esteem, and explored them. Jocks played sports, nerds did computer stuff in the nascent industry (I am a 1973, Commodore 64, Lets-play-Oregon-Explorer-on-an-Apple2e-kind of guy), and cute women flirted. Well maybe they did other stuff as well - I certainly wasn't observing them, try as I might.
So we explored this universal human need by focusing our efforts - and hence defining who we are for decades - by choosing between one of a few well-defined paths... frankly, metrics.
Tonight I watched a 7 year-old explain to a 30-something, for hours, how her Nintendo Ds worked, and just one fucking game - something called NintenDOGS, or the like.
I knew this angel well when she was 4 and 5. She was bright and focused on math and puzzle solving (!), but prone to suddenly change rules to her benefit when it suited her.
I listened intently now that she was 7, and her entire seminar was cogent and devoid of exaggerations, egoisms, fabrications. This game sounded really complex and kinda cool!
And just as I was impressed with the game and the tech, she uttered a phrase that prompted and entirely new understanding of the little pink, soft, beeping tool in her young impresionable hands.
With great confidence, when the adult said he didn't think he could handle it without her help, she said:
"Yes it is very detailed and complex, but nothing that I can't handle!"
The point I am trying to make is not that my friends little gal is smart, or that NintenDOGS is neat, but that technology, and most importantly gaming technology, has created a multitude of new paths and methods in which a young kid can find self-esteem, confidence, and ego. And in addition, while computer people of my generation who did well at Oregon Trail automatically defined themselves as 'Nerds', with all the benefits and self-loathing that entails, this little girl who loves pink and magic wands and dancing and being a Princess, could excel at a particular gaming technology and yet not be definied by the technology itself, but still draw all the self-esteem (and my god, ego!) that the successes offered. The technology benefitted her but did not define her, nor limit her.
That to me was Gnosis, a revelation. There is an entirely new world out there, and I am ignorant of it. A 7 year old takes it for granted, and to me it is foreign and magical. If there was middle ground, I am at a loss to find it.
The concept of children and young adults using, mastering, incorporating technology into their little lives but yet not being defined by it as a result is a completely new and foreign concept to me. I can only say I am jealous, even though my C-64 with Telengard and Bruce Lee from tape was way cooler than her crappy NintenDOG.
But yeah, I never went to prom either year, and that C-64 with Telegard and Bruve Lee on tape was a factor. It told me I was wonderful, and special, but we did not mix freely with them. I dream that one day this little girl will read this post I have written about her, and have absolutely no idea what the hell I am talking about.
Who knows if lowly gaming can one day be a bridge between races, classes, sexes? Is it possible that one day the jocks will not beat up nerds, but instead ask them for help with the final boss on level 7 of 'Waffle Thieves of Antiquity, and Other Baked Goods Nere-Do-Wells'? Or better yet, is it possible that gaming can unite people to such a degree that terms such as nerd and jock all blend into one happy, homogeneous guilt-free geekdom?