The first computer game I remember playing is Mixed Up Mother Goose. Our well known Nursery Mother’s rhymes had been scrambled, and my job was to make sure Humpty Dumpty found his wall, the Cat found his Fiddle, and Mary found her Little Lamb.
Unfortunately, Mother Goose didn’t keep up with the times, and when we bought a computer with a “See-Dee” drive, she got left by the wayside. (Seven year-olds are too old for nursery rhymes, anyway.) Thankfully, General Mills Cereal made sure that, along with 6 B vitamins and essential minerals, their cereal included prizes like Amazon Trail. Now I could meet the famous Theodore Roosevelt on his adventures in Brazil, or the infamous Conquistadors on their (mis)adventures. I even got to hunt fish with a spear! Sweet! Reader Rabbit was an occasional friend at this time as well.
Later games included adventures with Pioneers on the Oregon Trail (stupid yellow fever killed me every time), and Goofy Skateboarding.
I blame my cousin for my next videogame love: The Star Wars: X-Wing series. Talk about exciting!
My wingmates included Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Wedge Antilles, and even the Sith lord Darth Vader himself. As my cousin put it: “Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet!”
Whatever happened to good old fashioned flight simulators, anyway?
A short but sweet love was Star Trek: Dominion Wars, Deep Space Nine. For some reason I was blessed with one of the few computers that could play that buggy, eccentric, and very intriguing game. This was a different kind of space warfare: I could “beam” my soldiers to an enemy ship and take it over! Even Darth Vader couldn’t do that. The best part? No tribbles.
Age of Empires II, Civilization 3, and Star Wars: Rogue Squadron have all had their share of my time. What do Edward Longshanks and the Galactic Empire have in common? I’ve decimated the pitiful forces of both.
Games like these have taught me a few things:
-It’s fun to play alone, and fun to set up a LAN network and fight with (or against) your cousin.
-Sometimes destroying a British castle, or blowing up the Death Star, is just the thing to help you relax at the end of the day.
-The computer-generated players cheat, I swear they do! Yeah, I’m looking at you, Age of Empires II!
Most important, though, is this lesson: When all is said and done, being able tell someone, “I love you” is more satisfying than any number of pixels on a screen, and being able to show someone I love them brings eternal blessings.
One of my church’s leaders, and an eminent attorney, Dallin H. Oaks, noted:
“Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best.”
What he says is true, if hard to follow sometimes. Family needs always trump the needs of my virtual friends, no matter how much Mother Goose pleads.
But if the new owner of Star Wars—hi Mickey—will release a revamped X-Wing Alliance, I just might spend some quality time with my wife teaching her how to strafe a Star Destroyer without getting her R2 unit fried.
EDIT: As of January 1, 2015, Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance is available through GoG.com, for Windows, Mac and Linux. (Might be time for my wife’s strafing lessons…)