This past weekend I got to share something very special with my nephews, Roan and Conner.
While the boys were down for Mother's Day at my parents house I came across a nice surprise from my childhood; that of my old video game system, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES).
After unboxing all the components need to play, I was not entirely sure things would work in the end. We still had to attach the 28-year-old system to the back of a more modern television in the living room. Luckily the model of television had just the plug needed to connect the console.
Once the power was on all it took was one hefty blow inside the cartridge and the game sparked to life. The boys' eyes widened with excitement as they saw Mario squash his first Goomba and then double in size by touching a magic mushroom.
After a bit of throwing fireballs at turtles and falling in many holes it was time to surprise them with yet another game,Duck Hunt.
This game would turn out to be the preferred hit of the day. With the addition of the Zapper Light Gun and all those fast moving ducks it was hard for the two to resist. Conner especially liked the laughing dog that never failed to let you know when you missed your bird.
The afternoon continued with a sampling of other games some lasting longer than others but each one offering new challenges and opportunities for the boys to experience.
Growing up, as Roan and Conner do in a home environment without a television, the majority of their playtime is fueled by pure imagination and invention. My duty as their influential uncle is to introduce them to new things but never fail to support their creative path of development.
As video games are sure to come into play for them at some point down the road, I wanted to provide them with an introduction to video games similar to that of my own.
That's why I felt it was important that their first console gaming experiences be that of the NES. The games offered back then required and expected much more from the player, both in skill and imagination.
Classic titles like,Super Mario Brothers,Duck Hunt,The Legend of ZeldaandMega Manto name a few, really helped me early on in a variety of ways. From improving reflexes and coordination while attempting to rescue the princess from Bowser, to understanding that losing was not the end of the world but simply a necessary process that would eventually lead me to improve and finally make it to Dr. Wily's castle.
My personal favorite,The Legend of Zelda, fueled my interests in reading and visual storytelling at a young age. First off I had to read the instruction booklet to learn how to play the game, secondly I had to understand what the characters on the screen were telling me to figure out where to go, and third, the most important part, the game opened my mind to how I could craft my own adventures in the real world, especially in the forest around my house.
That's why after a bit of playing we put down the controllers and headed outside to enjoy the remainder of the day playingDuck HuntandZeldafor real.Duck Huntbecame the boys with their Wild West cap guns and myself with a small tree limb with a bundle of leaves attached which I waved through the air making duck sounds.
Zeldabecame us throwing around my old boomerang that was even blue in color just like the game's hero, Link.
All in all, the entire experience was one of nostalgia and excitement for me as an uncle. I was proud to be able to share with them something that meant so much to me during my childhood. And as they get older I plan to do my best to guide them through the fun-filled world of video games but always in parallel with their active imaginations and our shared love for the outdoors.