The Great Divide – Age against the machines

Talking to my parents about game-related topics is always interesting. They are not anti-games (far from it; and good job, as their only child is studying to be a games academic) and occasionally play games themselves. They actively support my study of games, and even feed my gaming ‘habit’ from time to time.

They suffer from a common and natural disadvantage; they are from the age before the machines.

My parents owned a Commodore 64 from my earliest memories. My mom would play Booty with its repetitive music and deadly parrots; my dad preferred Suicide Express, whose soundtrack terrified me so much I’d run from the room. When times changed, they bought a Mega Drive. In the mid 90’s we got our first PC, and my dad spent hours playing Command & Conquer in the dark.

These days, my dad very occasionally boots up Yuri’s Revenge (still on his C&C kick), and my mom sometimes remembers that she owns a DS Lite. So when I enthuse at them about upcoming releases and amazing new concepts, they nod and smile and let it all wash overhead.

Two recent cases in point. On a recent trip back home, I attempted to educate them in the ways of Kinect. I thought I was on to a winner, as my parents previously seemed to grasp the concept of motion capture and the like; but no. Even after showing them Microsoft’s promotional videos (one of which is designed at the ‘more mature player’), my mom’s response amounted to “That looks good” with a fixed smile.

And today I disappeared for fifteen minutes in order to pick up the last copy of the Fable 3 Collectors Edition guide from a shop. As I perused it in the pub at lunch, my dad was reading over my shoulder. As I ‘ooh’ed over some of the concept artwork, my inner game geek came out without thinking and commented on the use of alpha maps to texture the canine models. Quickly backtracking, I explained in the most basic of terms how models need them to do things like fur. Still in ‘nod and smile’ territory, so I quickly changed the topic to Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood that I’d played multiplayer demo of at Eurogamer Expo. Simple enough to explain the concept- you’re an assassin after other assassins, you get given a picture of your target, you go and take them out.

“What do you mean, ‘take them out’?”

I was glad to be interrupted by the arrival of our lunch. I have similar conversations with many people over the age of 40, and my 65-year-old godfather tries his hardest to understand but just ends up more confused.

I completely understand why this happens; I’ve been ‘lucky’ enough to grow up in the age of the video game, so in one way or another they have always been part of my life. But it does seem more and more than there are a generation of people being left behind by new technology- tech changes and moves so quickly that it leaves them behind, not used to the basics and therefore unable to keep up with the ever-more-technical information.

Many people are trying. An increasing number are succeeding, too. But I guess that some people will just never really ‘click’ with this new world full of gadgetry and virtual worlds.
Someday my mom will remember that ‘Control-V’ is the shortcut to paste things. Maybe…

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~ by Tegan on October 30, 2010.

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