The cumbersomeness of adulthood, along with being confined at home for years (even before the pandemic happened), has imbued my soul with a yearning for childish pleasures past. Way back before the advent of the Internet as we know it now, we had simple joys: playing outdoor games like hide-and-seek, hopscotch, jump rope, and the Chinese garter, listening to cassette tapes using a Walkman, playing with a Game & Watch (Donkey Kong), borrowing several VHS tapes at a time for movie nights, and even just merely reading a book.
As a not so tech-savvy person, while my peers are plunged deeply into social media, I still hesitate in using hashtags, have never posted an IG reel (will get on with it soon), haven’t installed TikTok on my phone (probably never will), pretty much abandoned my Twitter account, and seldom feel I have anything worthy to post about. I haven’t been able to cope with the lightning speed at which technology seems to be evolving. Not that I am ungrateful, technology has paved the way for convenience and connection in ways I’ve never thought possible. Remember having a party line at home, then when you have to use the phonebooth, fumbling for coins in your pocket before the call got disconnected. An overseas call cost a fortune. Now, we can just easily send an instant message through a myriad of apps. Sometimes you’re at a loss for receiving the same message in different portals. Do I have to reply in all apps as well? Distance learning and working from home became commonplace.
For now, I’ll allow myself to reminisce a bit. Surely, there are advantages to being part of this Xennial generation that had “an analog childhood and a digital adulthood.”
I remember the first time my dad brought home an IBM personal computer. It was in the late 90s. My brothers and I stared in awe as our father set up the bulky desktop. My parents weren’t the type to give in to their children’s insistence, so while our cousins and classmates were getting Family Computers, we had a PC (perhaps to my brothers’ dismay). There it was, a DOS-based computer, a black screen glaring at us, with a blinking green cursor. Nevertheless, we were very excited about this addition to our home (a break from watching television or playing outside all day during the summer). We would take turns playing games or against each other: Striker, Digger, Pac-Man, Tapper, Alley Cat, among others. I think we might have broken the keyboard while doing a 100-meter dash on Decathlon. It was the first time I heard of sporting events such as shot put, discus throw, javelin throw, and pole vault. Soon, more games were added: Dune, Prince of Persia, Indiana Jones, Maniac Mansion, Day of the Tentacle, and Duke Nukem. For fighting games, I would always opt for the character that had the advantage of attacking from afar such as Dhalsim (Street Fighter) and Sub-Zero (Mortal Kombat). We spent hours playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego. It was through this game that I learned about cities like Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Reykjavik, and Kathmandu.
As computer games got more complicated, though, I was not able to keep up. I confess I know next to nothing about the computer games kids play nowadays, except maybe for Plants vs. Zombies and Candy Crush, and the simpler ones. Speaking of my childhood brings back fond memories. Sometimes I wish I could travel back to the time when I did not have a care in the world, and I could play all day.