Oregon Trail

14 Aug 2013

Today is my first-born’s first day of kindergarten. I’m not terribly nervous for her or anything: she did pre-school, and she’ll be fine as long as she eats her breakfast before school (she gets tired and cranky pretty fast if she doesn’t). Listening to the brief orientation this morning, two thoughts kept going through my head.

First, I feel kind of bad for her. School means a fixed schedule, an end to the freedom she’s had her whole life. I don’t like having someplace I have to be at the same time every day, 5 days a week, and she’s not happy about the idea either. Hopefully she’ll come to enjoy school, because man, that schedule is a drag.

Education is incredibly important, maybe the most important thing in the world. I just don’t like the rigidity of it, but I don’t know of a better way to approach it.

Anyway, the second thought is: she’s never going to play on an Apple //e. She’s not going to play Oregon Trail, or Number Munchers, or likely any of the games I played as a kid. It’s a weird thought, but I can’t shake it.

Playing games was a huge part of my childhood, second only to reading. I met the kid who ended up being the best man at my wedding re-enacting Mega Man 2 on the playground. I still listen to Final Fantasy 6’s soundtrack. (I love NoiseES and OCRemix’s recent album Balance and Ruin.)

I started learning how to use a computer so that I could play Monkey Island, or DooM with a mouse. I upgraded the RAM in my computer (4 MB to 8 MB!) so that I could play King’s Quest 7. One of my fondest childhood memories is playing The Colonel’s Bequest with a friend in his father’s office on a lazy Saturday.

Without games, I wouldn’t be the person I am, and one of the first games I can remember playing is Oregon Trail on an Apple //e in my third grade classroom. My first experience programming was on an Apple //e a few years later in the 7th grade computer lab. (I quickly moved from 20 GOTO 10 to making simple text games.) A couple years later I had… acquired a copy of Turbo C++ and was teaching myself out of a book about POOP.

She’ll play other stuff, she already does on my phone and iPad. I just get this weird feeling knowing she’ll not have the same experience that I did.

Actually, I think I’ve found the point: she’s getting old enough that I’m starting to wonder how she’ll find her passion in life. I found mine on a rainy day in Mrs. King’s third grade class at Landau Elementary School. Where will she find hers?

Gosh, maybe I am a bit nervous for her.