In an interesting experiment Andy Baio, an avid gamer, was interested to know if his son Eliot who was born in 2004, would have a better appreciation for gaming if he began playing through the with the old classics. In Andy's words:
I was born in 1977 — the same year the Atari 2600 was released and a year before Space Invaders. I was lucky enough to be born into the golden age of arcade gaming, and played through each subsequent generation as I grew up.
My son Eliot was born in 2004 — the year of Half-Life 2, Doom 3, and the launch of the Nintendo DS. By the time he was born, video games were a $26B industry.
I love games, and I genuinely wanted Eliot to love and appreciate them too. So, here was my experiment:
What happens when a 21st-century kid plays through video game history in chronological order?
Starting off with a plug-and-play TV game on his son’s 4th birthday packed with ‘70s and ‘80s arcade classics like Galaxian, Pac-Man, Dig Dug and plenty more, Andy began the field research with his test subject.
The experiment was not scientifically rigorous but it did look at how a modern day child would handle the old classics before he would be allowed to play any modern computer games.
Andy made his son play through 25 years of gaming history first, starting off with a plug-and-play TV game on his son’s 4th birthday packed with ‘70s and ‘80s arcade classics like Pac-Man, Dig Dug, Galaxian and plenty more. Eliot was a natural and made great progress in the games even beating his fathers own scores.
Next they moved onto the Atari 2600 and games like Asteroids. After 4 months they moved onto the NES, completing 8-bit classics including The Legend of Zelda and Mega Man 2. Next up was a SNES and N64, where a 6 year old Eliot collected all 120 stars in Mario 64, a huge achievement for one so young. They skipped past the Playstation 1 for some reason and jumped straight onto the PlayStation2. Once Eliot finished Katamary Demancy the experiment was over, the game having been released on Eliots birth year.
Eliot, now 10, loves Minecraft like every other young child on the planet but his classical gaming knowledge has also given him an appreciation, passion and ability for brutally difficult games.
The experiment is well worth a read and I hope to be doing something similar with my nephews who are 5 and 4 years old. I won't be as hardcore as Andy but I'll slowly introduce them to the games of my youth on the original machines. In looking forward we must appreciate what has come before.