To Participate in a Generation: Do You Mario?

My brother and I were chatting last night – enjoying our rockiní Saturday nights at our computers. 🙂 He was discussing his quandary about whether to join the next generation of gaming or to call it quits with his PS2. I asked if he could play the upcoming version of Rush – a racing game he thoroughly enjoyed on his N64: he and his friend would play for hours, beat boxing to the music – oh, the good times. He said that it was compatible, but that he would not be purchasing it because they tampered with the format to make it more like Grand Theft Auto. Which led us to a discussion about leaving good things alone and how the Mario franchise learned that after dinking around with Mario 2.

But then, after we discussed it for a while, I had to confess something to him: I donít know the Mario games – well, I do on N64 and up, but I donít know the old school stuff. All of my knowledge comes second hand from my friends reminiscing about the grand times they had playing that game. See, we were an anti-gaming household – books and friends and the big back yard were our distractions. I think Mom thought video games were just going to be a passing fad, not the enormous cultural activity that itís become.

When I got to play Mario, it was over at a someone elseís house who usually had already beaten all the levels and just wanted to warp ěto the good stuff.î My brother mustíve had friends who didnít mind playing everything over again, but Iíve never gotten the whole gaming experience. And I couldnít tell them apart, either.

I know many folks donít think itís a big deal: who cares if you canít tell an antiquated game apart from another? Youíre educated in reading and in quality friendships and knowing how many somersaults it takes to get to the end of the driveway! But Iíve always felt a little left out of my generation not having participated in that particular element: kind of like the missionary kid who comes back and doesnít know any of the tv shows or movies (Jason has a coworker who doesnít know what ěFraggle Rockî is because she grew up in Germany – oh, the travesty!). Itís not so much that I wish I knew the game, but that I could participate in the shared experience of others.

Iíve been reading the blog of a friend whoís has or is in the process of no longer attending organized/institutional church. That seems to be a theme Iím seeing: my friends all leaving, not necessarily going to anything, but just leaving. Is this something common to being our age? ń did people before us leave the church in their twenties and come back later? Or is it something specific to our generation? Is this a passing fad, or a new cultural element thatís here to stay? When we reminisce in twenty years, whoís going to feel left out of the shared experience – those who ěleftî, or those who ěstayedî?

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