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comment by kleinbl00
kleinbl00  ·  201 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: What watching my daughter play ‘The Legend of Zelda’ taught me

Video games of any kind were verboten in my house. I managed to sneak Jet and Castle Wolfenstein onto the computer every now and then because it had no hard drive to install anything on. I want you to imagine a 1983 vector-rendered flight simulator on an 80x16 LCD. Eventually my father relented somewhat; I was actually allowed to purchase Wizardry IV with my own money and, wonder of wonders, was eventually gifted a copy of Falcon A.T. at the age of fourteen but by and large, notional flight simulators were my whole gaming experience until seventeen or eighteen or so when I'd head over to a friend's house and play Pilotwings or EVO until dawn on weekends.

This is probably why I hate Dark Souls - I dealt with futility early and often and no thanks. And you'd think I'd love the escapism of Zelda but the original Zelda struck me as a crappy version of Gauntlet and Gauntlet was a quarter-munching monstrosity. I didn't even really notice video games again until my wife and I were inexplicably gifted a Wii by her parents and I got her a copy of Skyward Sword. Which was super-fun. Except for the lack of damage bars. And the lazy fact that you had to kill bosses two, three and four times for some fucking reason (like Nintendo cheaping out on boss battles).

I recognize the puzzles of Zelda as substantially better for my kid than, say, Roblox or Pokemon. She's picked up Pokemon Violet and I hate it, but she's got a friend who plays so at least it's collaborative. But I also recognize Zelda as substantially worse than Minecraft, wherein she's actively learning coding through Redstone. Would I rather my kid play Zelda than Warcraft? Mos Def. Zelda over Starcraft? mmmm....

I think the author is correct in assessing Zelda as a real turning point in games. Bruce Sterling makes the point in Islands in the Net that Reagan-era video gaming is a bleak and apocalyptic existence in which you struggle against extinction until you are overbalanced and annihilated, no exceptions. But this part troubles me:

    I adored the original “Legend of Zelda” because it made the rural Midwestern world I grew up in feel enigmatic, even mildly dangerous. My daughter is growing up in Los Angeles, in the Hollywood Hills, otherwise known as the Land Without Yards and Sidewalks. She can’t walk outside our front door to play without putting herself immediately in the path of some Porsche Cayenne doing 40 in a 15. Games such as “Breath of the Wild” and “Tears of the Kingdom” might be the closest approximation she has for the sort of unstructured play I took for granted as a kid. I’m not here to lionize the era I grew up in, much less the region, but there’s something to be said for an impossibly elaborate sandbox world that’s filled with peril and secrets but also doubles as a place for a kid like my daughter to be a goal-less weirdo and goof.

I think it's great that "physics" is making a return in play but I also worry that "real physics" is turning into a privilege thing. We signed my kid up for a week of running around in the woods making fire with sticks and pretending to hunt with a bow and arrow. It's $110 a day.





b_b  ·  201 days ago  ·  link  ·  

A little off topic, but mk and I were just discussing the other day how as parents you make a ton of choices that are rational in the immediate situation, but are probably detrimental in the long run. Yes, you want your kids doing fun things and learning, so you sign them up for this and that, and no you don’t want them getting run over, so you say stay in the backyard or whatever. But ultimately, they need to find their way around the world on their own. I just let my five year old bike to the neighbor’s house on his own the other day, which is like down to the end of our block then around the corner by a few house (with sidewalks the whole way, so not exactly dangerous). And it felt good. But then I think about how I walked a mile each way to and from school when I was in kindergarten, and it doesn’t feel so big. I don’t know how to thread that needle between safety and freedom, but I try to give myself credit for at least thinking about it a lot.

kleinbl00  ·  201 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I dunno, man, at the age of 6 my daughter decided to get up early one Saturday morning and go wander to the forest half a mile away. When she got back we set the ground rules (1) no leaving the house without telling us where you're going (2) no crossing streets with traffic lights without a grownup around (this limits her to about a 3 block radius). When COVID hit and she ended up at home ALL THE TIME I bought a pair of shitty walkie talkies so she could stomp around with the neighbor kids without me needing to keep an eye on her.

I have used "if I was good to do it, she's good to do it" as my operating principle since (1) the world is hella safer (2) she has a much better safety net than I ever did. I think a lot of today's child-rearing problems come from visible hypocrisy.

b_b  ·  201 days ago  ·  link  ·  

In Grant's memoirs, he relates a story about traveling to Lexington from outside Cincinnati where he lived to do horse trading as a 10 year old. Apparently, even for the 1830s that was a bit uncommon, but at least it illustrates how much more competent kids are than we often give them credit for. Love the walkie talkies.

kleinbl00  ·  201 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Lenore Skenazy's main point in Free Range Kids is the modern world is so much safer than it was in the 70s or 80s but because of Jon Walsh and the WhiteWomanInPeril ABC Sunday Night Movie we're all a bunch of paranoid fucks.