Weeks ago, I spent gads of money that I really didn't have on a Nintendo Wii. Certainly, as a single man who loves his toys, I do not regret this purchase, but since I had very little money after buying it, purchasing games it play on it was difficult. Once my arms started to cramp up from all the Wii Sports, I decided to figure out how to hook the thing up to he internets, because I had heard you could download "classic" games and play them as new. I used the quotes there because, to me, "classic" refers to things that are really old, like mummies or Clint Eastwood. It shoudn't refer to anything that came about in my lifetime.
My first downloads were slightly underwhelming. Back in the day, I thought Balloon Fight and Super-Contra were the height of entertainment (remember, there was no internet porn!) Now, they were kind of childish. I don't know what i was expecting from twenty-year old video games, but I guess the years had colored my memory. Urged by a friend to download Super Mario Bros. ("You have to get that one! It was THE game!"), I remembered why I actively hated most games as a child. I was a rather impatient little shit, and if I could not succeed at the thing instantly, I was likely to throw some kind of tantrum. I have learned that, while my tantrums are not as pronounced, the attitude is the same twenty years later.
Then I found it. In the list of Wii downloads, one of my all-time favorites: Earthworm Jim. A game I spent hours on. A game I could play. A game I actually enjoyed. And it was just as I remembered, maybe because it was only 14 years ago instead of twenty. And I was in college. And I was more mature, less likely to destroy things if I lost. And I was still good at it. Of course, I don't know how I ever got along in the game without Google, but, still...
** Actually, I think it's a whole other blog post on how the little secrets in all these games got all over the country, even the world, without people being able to just type "Earthworm Jim cheats" into a search engine. I know there were magazines and stuff, but I never had one, and I never knew anyone who did, but someone I knew knew someone and word got around somehow. isn't that kinda cool when you think about it? **
And while Jim has helped me feel better about my Wii purchase, it still leaves me pondering why I had to go out and spend all this money on the latest technology when I primarily use it to play games that are over a decade old. I could have probably went on eBay and bought a Sega for fifty bucks. For that matter, I'm 32, so why do I need to play games in the first place? Shouldn't I be, y'know, doing something with my life?
I've heard people say that, because my generation is the first one in awhile that didn't grow up with a major war or depression to screw up our childhood, that we're the entitled generation, that we feel it's okay to play games and sports and read comics and watch cartoons and do numerous other things that responsible adults need not do anymore. And because modern technology (that our generation has developed probably to fulfill these childish needs) makes it so simple to do, that we are probably more screwed up emotionally than we would be if we had a war.
In Thunder Road (possibly my favorite song), Bruce Springsteen wrote, "So you're scared and you're thinking that maybe we ain't that young anymore," the real joke being that Bruce was only 24 when he wrote that. On Storytellers, he quantified the line by saying, "The Vietnam War has just ended. Nobody was that young anymore." Unfortunately, I'm a generation removed from Springsteen. Fortunately, I am that young anymore. My generation didn't have to grow up, and so we didn't. And I'm wondering if we ever will.