It was a Wednesday afternoon, I had just left campus, and I needed some me time. Me time generally consisted of watching Netflix, sleeping, or playing videogames. However, since I started school at Indiana University, I occasionally stroll through the local mall that is down the street from my apartment. Generally, I just walk around and buy one or two small items. A part of the mall is the good ‘ole Target! I like Target, for it usually has what I am looking for and the stores that I have visited are pretty clean. As I am walking around, picking up non-essential stuff, I see in the distance a child playing on the publicly accessible Xbox One that is in the Target. He was a young black male who had to be no older than 7 or 8 years old. I was a distance away, but I saw how laser focused he was going through the obstacle course in Forza Horizon 3.
For the few seconds that I watched him, multiple memories of my childhood flashed through my mind, specifically one’s related to gaming. One of the memories was of when I was playing Sonic: The Hedgehog for the Sega Genesis. I remember the many fun and frustrating times I had with that game. Kick’in butt and taking names in “Green Hill Zone” to getting pummeled in those annoying boss battles with Eggman. I am still slightly annoyed that I never beat the game.
Anywho, after those couple of seconds went by I snapped out it and started to proceed towards another direction in the store. However, I could not help put things into context. Here is a 7 or 8 year old black male child playing on an Xbox One. I am not knocking his intelligence, but I will assume he had very little understanding of the computational complexity of what it takes to run a videogame, let alone running in 1080p resolution between 30 to 60 frames per seconds (fps). Sure, in today’s computer market that is pretty mediocre, however, I reflect back to the days of the Playstation 2, Nintendo Gamecube, etc. At one point in time, those consoles were the future of gaming. This kid was playing an Xbox One at 7 or 8, so gaming will look incredibly different once he is in his 20’s.
Anywho, I walked through the aisle of pasta and sauces, and landed back in the middle of the store. As I looked at the electronic section at the end of the aisle, the kid was still actively engaged in the game, but with onlookers. The onlookers included a middle-aged couple and a woman, who I believed to be his mother. All 3 were just watching him play this game. I could not tell if he was beating the AI opponents like crazy or crashing into everything for I was too far away. This reminded me of the few times my mother and aunt would watch my cousins, my brother, and I play Mario Kart: Double Dash for the Nintendo Gamecube. Even today when people watch me play, I feel like I must perform my best at all times with no mistakes. If I do mess up, then I typically play it off as if I meant to make the mistake from the beginning.
That kid will never know that he made a 22-year-old black male graduate student reflect about his young gaming childhood days. That gamer will never realize that their is a future in gaming, until someone puts that idea into his head. That future scholar will not fully see the roadblocks ahead of him until they happen. Hopefully, he will soon learn how to create games that are intriguing, awe-inspiring, educational, fun, and thought provoking, and maybe even ponder a future in which being a gamer is not only his hobby, but a passion.