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Ask Slashdot: Will You Start Your Kids On Classic Games Or Newer Games? 285

Posted by Soulskill
from the you-have-died-of-dysentery dept.
An anonymous reader writes "An article at The Verge got me thinking. Parents and those of you who plan to become parents: will you introduce your kids to the games you played when you were younger? Those of us who grew up playing Pong, Space Invaders, and Pac-Man have had a chance to see gaming software evolve into the enormously complex and graphically realistic beast it is today. I've begun to understand why my grandparents tried to get me to watch old movies. I'm also curious how you folks plan to teach your kids about computers and software in general. When teaching them Linux, do you just download the latest stable Mint or Ubuntu release and let them take it from there? Do you track down a 20-year-old version of Slackware and show them how things used to be? I can see how there would be value in that... the UIs we use every day have been abstracted so far away from their roots that we can't always expect new users to intuitively grasp the chain of logic. How do you think this should be handled?"
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Ask Slashdot: Will You Start Your Kids On Classic Games Or Newer Games?

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  • old games (Score:4, Interesting)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Friday December 27, 2013 @05:15PM (#45800073) Journal

    While daughter was growing up, we had a strict no-console policy at home. Yes, I know, I was a horrible parent blah blah. Her friends had consoles of various types, as did her grandmother, and she was free to play them as long as it was at someone else's house. What I was trying to avoid was the all encompassing time-sink effect that I had observed had happened to my nephews. The ban did not apply to PC games, so she spent a lot of time growing up with Oblivion, Railroad Tycoon, The Sims, Spore and the like. But she spent most of her online time researching stuff and reading news. At one point she started asking me to find the collections How It's Made, Dirty Jobs, How Art Made the World, Mythbusters. Her interests would fluctuate but were always about real things. Currently she's reading and watching everything she can find about orcas. (Apparently, we're never supposed to step foot in a Sea World ever again...)

    Somewhere along the line she developed a taste for things retro -- charlie chaplin movies, swing music, early roll film cameras. She said she wanted to buy a Nintendo 64. Why? Because it's cool. Shrug. Ok. I said go ahead, it's your money. This was our first console, purchased in early 2013.

    She had to do a lot of research to figure out what all the parts were, and what was affordable, and eventually had enough pieces to make a working system. She's collected six games now, and plays with them once or twice a week. I get the idea that putting the system together was more fun than actually playing it, but again, it was her money. So I guess I'd say, she was drawn to older games. But it wasn't me who led her to them. Besides the Mechwarrior series, I haven't really played games much. I tried Warcraft once and got so heavily addicted that I neglected to bathe or eat. I finally gave the disc to daughter and told her to hide it. I still don't know where it is, and I haven't gamed since.

  • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Friday December 27, 2013 @06:20PM (#45800661) Homepage Journal

    There was no TV or video games in my house when I was growing up. I'm pretty sure I'm not mentally under-developed as a result.

    Growing up in Chicago in the 60s and 70s, local TV stations had massive libraries of films, from silent movies to film noir, foreign films (subbed and dubbed) and just about everything ever made. In the later evening and sometimes early in the morning, they would put one of those movies on and they had low-cost programming.

    It was possible, if you watched The Late Late Show and WGN and Midnight Movie, you could get an extremely complete education in filmmaking and film history. Over years. I would bet that students from the best film programs didn't get a chance to see as many movies as I did growing up, including Fellini, Howard Hawks, King Vidor, Ingmar Bergman. I remember watching Roberto Rosselini's 1946 classic Open City when I was 13, and I had no idea what it was, but it was transfixing. They Drive by Night, Angels with Dirty Faces, Greed and Battleship Potemkin, The Red Shoes and everything in between.

    Later, when the rights to a lot of these movies were gobbled up, those movies were replace by two episodes of some bad TV drama and it was a terrible shame.

    But for a little while, the entirety of film history was available to anyone who cared to watch. Television wasn't always a wasteland.

  • Re:What? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mythosaz (572040) on Friday December 27, 2013 @06:27PM (#45800725)

    The wife and I are fairly indoor types ourselves. We're lost :)

    We have to make a conscious effort to get outside, since we wouldn't otherwise. [We've always been much more at home in a casino than in a tent.] We schedule weekend activities with the kids that involve walking - even if it's just touring the outdoor park-and-swap instead of the mall - and are much more apt to do things with our kids outside rather than in. We all enjoy a day at the Ostrich Festival more than an afternoon in front of the TV. The wife and I wouldn't go by ourselves, but we do enjoy those things as a family.

    I'm pretty sure more active parents have more active kids, and obviously leading by example is a great way to lead. We're home-bodies, so we make a point of doing pretty much all of our off-the-couch activities with the kids (where possible), and we encourage them (actively) to have their own off-the-couch activities.

    As such, we've got some fairly well balanced kids, one involved heavily in sport, the other heavily involved in academics; both of whom spend some of their time playing video games, but neither of whom watch a lot of TV.

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <`VortexCortex' ` ...'> on Friday December 27, 2013 @07:01PM (#45801047) Homepage

    Kids are natural born scientists. Give them some rules and they'll begin exploring the limits of reality, authority, or the game's (possibly quirky) physics engine.

    In addition to playing the games I teach youngsters how to write a little code to help with their mathematics and make games, game mods, and graphical programs -- Hey, if Alice can write a program to do long division and show the work graphically for her to "cheat" at her homework, then she knows long division inside and out. If Bob can program a ballistic projectile targeting system then he'll ace his physics test. If Mal can exploit a bug in the game's physics to make Bob and Alice cry foul then they've all learned a valuable life lesson -- Feelings get less hurt in a game than reality.

    Kids can craft 2D & 3D architecture, or even planetary systems in the virtual worlds. They can learn to use evolution as not just a theory but as a tool to create all the various desired AI behaviours for a game's enemies without having to write additional lines of code. Most game AI is nothing like machine intelligence, AAA games allocate only 1% to 2% of the asset/processing/memory budget but if you don't care about pushing the graphics envelope then the embarrassingly parallelizable n.nets can exhibit some neat emergent behaviours. When Evolution vs Creationism comes up my niece laughs and says, "Evolution is real, I use it at my uncle's house all the time."

    As for classic games? It's not mandatory, but I happen to have a collection. They're good for youngsters who are honing hand-eye coordination: Intellivision's dial/knob controller is still great for pong. The Atari 2600 joystick sucks for kids though, fortunately you can just plug a Sega Genesis controller into it and it'll work great. Young kids do best with high contrast games with simple objectives, but they quickly outgrow this phase. There's an unaddressed gap between Atari and NES where a minimalist style would be great for developing young minds... Some indie game developers are finding and exploring this niche.

    As for the violence thing? We'll I watched Tom & Jerry and Loony Tunes, I didn't turn out to be racist or violent. There's no evidence to support the claim that media causes violent behaviour. Competition, maybe, but that's a healthy beneficial trait. I gave my little brother the mouse to shoot Doom's demons and open the doors while I controlled the movement and lined up shots for him when he was under a year old. He turned out to love games and people, and became a pacifist...

    One thing to watch out for is isolationism. Introversion needn't be deemed harmful, but exposure to social situations is good. Kids just love having something they imagined come to life for all to see, so consider helping them make a simple game or game-mod with any of the freely available engines as an ongoing weekend collaboration. They can take breaks or trips to the park to play hide and seek, Frisbee, or other sports to work out some energy and make concentration on collaborative engineering tasks easier.

    Most modern games (and kids' shows) I consider just bubble-gum or mental candy. There's a difference between playing a game designed to entertain you the longest and playing a game designed that lets you learn or leverage real world skills; Pokemon grind-fest is the former, Minecraft and Halo world editing is the latter. I persuade kids to eat their mental vegetables by having them work on or in a game together towards a common goal. Have them all team up and strategize against me in a 8-way classic Doom Deathmatch, or have teams build new co-op levels then playtest them against each other -- BTW, have you seen all the free zany and even cartoony mods for Doom and Quake "source ports" now? They've even got Monopoly and Clue clones. If anyone says: "Wouldn't it be cool if ___ in the game?", I write it down. Have the kids pick an idea amongst themselves, then help them build it. Combine that with my 3D UI, OS dev, electronics, and robotics projects we've g

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