Same Stuff, New Generation


The first computer game I remember getting very involved with is King’s Quest. You play the warrior protagonist sent on a quest…by the king. The game was colorful and the midi music that pumped from our dirt cheap speakers was sublime. The game required players to type in their command. “Pick up rock,” “look at tree,” that sort of thing.

It was a completely viable mechanic for any player not six years old and had some grasp of the English language.

To play the meant to sit in my dad’s lap on shout commands at him. He would type in whatever was said, for better or worse, and help keep things calm when I was frustrated that letters combining together to make words was the most challenging thing in the world.

It was an exercise in patience for him I’m sure. But it did help teach spelling, so there’s that.

Tonight the newborn went to sleep very early, I picked up dinner (lazy weekend does not even begin to describe today), and we put on Star Wars (New Hope FTW). My wife secretly fired up Civilization Beyond Earth while the kid devoured a burrito.

This game. Oh my goodness. Buy this game.

As soon as the burrito was gone, firstborn looked behind him and saw the shiny glow of a computer monitor behind him.

“Mom, can I play too?” He asked. We mostly do work on computers when he’s awake, so I don’t know if the question was wishful thinking or some freaky insight.

“Come on up, buddy,” she relied, clearing a spot on the couch.

She then taught him how to use the touch screen controls. A few minutes later, he’s in charge of navigating the map and is quite skilled at telling her when the ocean tiles show up.

It’s a far cry from needing to know how rock and tree are spelled. Amazing the difference a few decades makes. He’s a participating player in an incredibly complex game, but doesn’t need to know the correct spelling of rock. It’s a delight to watch.

In his navigating of the map he has one target in mind; find the monsters, tap the monsters.


“Found a monster, mom.”


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