Inevitably, my mother would look down at the Nintendo controller, squint, and after a few seconds, finally press A. Too late. Poor little Mario had been killed by a Goomba.
This was a scenario that occurred only a few times before I officially gave up and continued playing on my own, with my older brother, or with friends. Trying to bring my mother into the world of video games was useless. For some reason, she didn’t have the hand-eye coordination needed to press the buttons in time. She just couldn’t remember which button was which, and that was when there were only two buttons on the controller!
Years passed and we either became hardcore gamers, lost interest completely, or continued to play on occasion. The game systems changed often, much to our parents’ chagrin, and the technological gap kept increasing between the two generations as well. Our parents watched on as the games, and the controllers, got even more complicated. But a few years ago, something changed.
With the introduction of the Wii, the tables turned. Suddenly it wasn’t you dragging your mom into the room to play with you. This time, she was peeking into your room and asking you if she could try it! With only one button on the controller, and the ability to use the movements of your body to control the avatar on the screen, this was something Mami could do.
Interactive game systems like the Wii and Kinect are piquing the interest of even those of us who had lost interest in video games many years ago. A new category of gamers has emerged: the social gamers, who never play at home alone, may not even own a game system, but they play with other people at parties or get-togethers. In addition to the people who only smoke or drink socially, now there are those who only play socially. And in this new category you’ll find my mom, my dad, and maybe even yours as well.
In the past, video games seemed to drive people apart (i.e. older family members who can’t memorize buttons on a controller, significant others who have absolutely no interest in destroying Halo). These new games are bringing people together. In a world that is changing by becoming more connected and social every day, it makes sense that video games would change in this way, too.
This past Christmas, I watched as my mom, my older brother, and his son all danced in front of the Xbox Kinect, trying to mimic the dance moves on the television screen. Three generations playing a video game all at once. I never thought I’d see the day.