Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Power of the Game

Video games have the power to bring people together. Not just nerds, mainstreamers, and all those in between, but entire families. Those who understand this find success in the business. Nintendo knows this. Sega's getting it.

Case in point.

Not too long ago, I introduced my little stepdaughter to Sonic the Hedgehog. She enjoyed a little face time with Sega's Blue Bomber, but took an instant liking to Knuckles. First, she would ask me if she could play "Red" instead of "Blue" but within a few hours, she had the names down. This is all by way of Sonic Mega Collection on the PS2.

For days after that, without fail, every single time she saw me, she asked me if she could play Knuckles. If mom says it's okay, I say. After you get out of school, I say. When we were given the time, I would sit with her and explain to her what a spin dash was, why she needed to get rings, and watch go between the D-Pad and analog stick trying to find a sense of comfortability. An intelligent and inquisitive child, she spends a few seconds letting Knuckles chill on screen while she figures out the pad, and why it rumbles in her hands every so often. When she feels she's ready, she looks at the screen and goes to work. No, honey, the big metal bugs are not cute. Yes, they will hurt you. No, Knuckles really isnt dead. See? He comes right back (PLEASE don't let me have to explain the game over screen. I'm not ready for that yet).

Sam doesn't play video games, so when I bring the PS2 over, this is her child's only exposure. About ten days go by or so before Dani is able to play again. During this time, according to Sam, she doesn't mention Sonic, Knuckles, or anything, and I figure it was a nice fad while it lasted.

So when I come back over, Dani immediately looks to me and asks "Can I play Knuckles?"
Sam, in shock, looks down to her little daughter and barely gets out; "Wow."

This intangible ability, the ability to have so little exposure and yet burn a permanent impression, this is why I love video games so much.

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