Saturday, October 15, 2011

Grab Bag No. 3: I'm Part of the Atari Generation

I've been writing a weekly grab bag post consistently every three weeks, give or take two...

Which means it's time for another. The topic of this one is video games, but it's a short one because I'm not really what you'd call a "gamer."

- I had Columbus day off from work, and Mrs. Christensen and I spontaneously decided some of that free time should be used to get the band back together. By "the band" I mean Rock Band, our family's favorite use for the PlayStation. We searched the house but could not find two pieces necessary to make the drums work, and the guitar was not in great shape either. What to do? Simple! Go out and buy all new instruments. We now have a better guitar, wireless drums, and a new microphone to boot! (They come as a set.) It's great to be an adult. Kids and teens have to save for months or beg Santa Claus for something like this. We just had to reassign a hundred bucks from the grocery budget. (Maybe it was the car insurance; I'm not sure.) DON'T JUDGE ME!

- While at the game store, I took a few minutes to browse the used discs and spotted a cheap copy of Lego Star Wars. We picked it up for our boy, Caleb, and it's a huge hit! This is a video game based on a toy that's based on a movie... I want a T-shirt with this game on it!

- George Carlin once said that violence on television only affects kids whose parents act like television characters. I tend to believe this theory, and I'd like to apply it to video games as well, but have you seen what goes on in some of those games? Shocking. There's a big debate over this topic, and a lot of research is being done. I side with those who believe games are more harmful than TV to young minds because you are an active participant in the game; you don't just watch it, you interact with it.

- I was thinking about the old Pong console we had 30-something years ago, which we hooked up to our 13" black and white TV. I wonder how much that unit would bring on eBay today? No doubt several times what it cost new. (I can still picture its simulated wood grain housing and big mechanical switches and dials. They just don't make 'em like that anymore.) I recall being just as entertained by it as by the Atari 2600, the Super Mario Bros. on NES, and every increasingly sophisticated game that followed, up to this day. In another 20 years when we have holodecks in our houses, I doubt I'll find them much better than any of these. Marshall McLuhan's claim that "the medium is the message" holds true here. A video game is a video game... they're all fundamentally the same as each other, and different from all books, movies, etc.

That's all for now. If you need me, I'll be rocking out. Or maybe stacking Tetris blocks.


Love my blog but want more cowbell? Wish I would fall into an abyss, or at least throw my laptop in? Feel I should have chosen 12 pt. Arial instead of 14 pt. Verdana? Comment below! I’m not a mind reader.


  1. Very true - one of the best of parts of being an adult is being able to buy your own toys without needing permission
    And you can get a modern pc built in to the case of a 2600 now. Not sure of the point, but it looks cool.

  2. A computer that looks like an Atari? Sign me up!