What playing adventure games with my 5 years old taught me
It seems like it was yesterday when I first got my 386 SX 33/40 — that was in ’93 and it was a beast to have, at least in Brazil, where those machines were just not that available. One of my best friends and I got computers around the same time and, to jump on the gaming love, it was fast.
I still remember which was the first game we got into (and played it for hours and hours): Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis. Dude, it was awesome. It was not just button smashing like Atari. It made us think like no other game did. It had amazing graphics, amazing story. It had it all.
When you see an image like this, think: how could one not be amazed on playing something that was just like a movie? (and I still think that it would be way easier to just shot this as a movie than that 4th installment). Anyway, that was just the beginning of it. Immediately, we started to look for more, and we found it: Monkey Island 1 and 2, Legend of Kyrandia, Zak McKracken and the Alien Mindbenders, Loom, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle… oh, the list is huge. And every moment was worth it.
Then, came the CD-ROM media (yes, I’m that old) and, with it, something we crawled really hard to find: The 7th Guest. Wow. What were those graphics? It was… amazing!
And just when we thought nothing else would be greater than this… FMV. Tex Murphy. What the hell? Where would that stop?
It had 4 CDs.
It had pre-rendered graphics.
It had real actors in it.
And, best of all: a great story.
It was shocking. I remember me and my friend tripping around stores until we find it and spending some nights playing it until the end. And again and again. And switching CDs.
There were lots of installment on those days. Kyrandia 2 and 3, Phantasmagoria (another FMV classic), but that didn’t prevent the genre to go a bit underground (but still beloved by lots of people that kept it running firmly). You know, Doom, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D — all those took the PC gaming scene by assault (and who can blame them? They’re awesome). Still, there was some kind of magic attached to this.
And then, in 2016, for some reason, I found myself thinking of it. Thanks to my kid.
One day, I was playing the remastered version of Day of the Tentacle — this is a fun game, no matter what one say (and who would say that?). My kid entered the office (he is a five-years old, learning to read) and asked me: ‘Dad, what’s this game you’re playing?’. And, suddenly, I didn’t know exactly how I could explain it to him: he loves playing The Sims 4 (I’m still amazed on how, in 9 months, he already builds houses better than I do), and lots of those build-the-cake, build-the-milkshake Miniclip games. But how could I explain to him that?
And it, in a flash, came to me: ‘Son, this is a book you can play’. He smiled. I could see the shine in his eyes (he loves books). Since we are native brazilian-portuguese speakers, it was obviously lots of strange words and all to him, but there was no hesitation for him to ask: ‘Can I play with you, dad? Could you tell me what there are speaking?’
How could I say no to that? Somehow, my kid, right in that moment, saw that same magic on this that I saw around 23 years ago — that adventures can be just not read: you can be part of them.
After that, we played both Monkey Island games, and we are starting now Legend of Kyrandia. I noticed that, after playing those games, his interest in reading grew — he understands better the concept of a story, and the development of things in it. Being able to show him the difference in graphics on my time and now on his time was also something nice. When before he already loved the Turma da Mônica comics, now he is interested not only in the drawing, but in the talking of characters, the context of the actions.
And me? What have I learned?
That if there’s only one thing time cannot kill: a good story. Specially when you can interact with it.