Entering the world of techno addictions

Kim Jeffries

I was a deprived child.

Besides having never been to either major Disney amusement park, I have also never owned a video game. I remember going to my friend Hannah’s house for hours to play whatever version of Mario Bros. she had on her circa-fourth grade Nintendo system. But at home I was relegated to reading the Baby-Sitters Club series and proudly announcing to my mother how many typos I’d found in whatever number book I was on (which, the more I think of it, I should thank my parents for, considering I now want to make a living by doing just that).

But in all honesty, I never felt as though I was missing out. Sure, I may not have known how to reach the secret level of Mortal Kombat, but I knew how to curve a sweet corner kick and ride my bike downhill with no hands.

That all changed when I arrived on campus. Social groups revolved around who had the hippest video game system and how big a TV they could fit into their dorm room. Sophomore year, a group of my male friends even got into real-life NASCAR after becoming obsessed with a video game version of the sport. They were kind and offered to teach me how to play so I could fit in, but I was so bad that eventually I got my kicks out of trying to purposefully crash into other players’ on-screen cars. But I even failed at that – I just idled in the infield grass or slowly slid into a wall.

Despite my lack of eye-hand coordination (I’m also one of those people who, when playing video games, moves their whole body while flicking knobs and punching buttons), I still find video games a fascinating aspect of pop culture. People blame them for helping make today’s youth lethargic and uninquisitive, which is probably why my parents held out on me.

But my little sister has had a Game Boy Advance for the past few years, and she can school me in pretty much any Harry Potter, Shrek or Finding Nemo game that’s on the market. Her motor skills have improved (a set of skills my boyfriend, an aspiring doctor, says is very important whenever he drools over – ahem, plays – his Madden 2006), and the games have helped her to better understand story line progressions and to learn time management between work and play, much like I learned during my nerdish bookworm days wishing I was Dawn from the Baby-Sitters Club.

Alas, in the spirit of joining the rest of my so-called lazy peers, I bought a soccer video game (although I can’t even tell you its name) and am hoping to tear my boyfriend away from his football long enough to teach me how to control the players on the screen without jerking my body like I’m wrestling the controller.

I hope Kristy and the rest of the Baby-Sitters’ gang doesn’t get thrown to the wayside, though. Future generations of little girls need to learn how to proofread. (And remember, when you’re a parent, to take your kids to Disneyland.)

Medill senior Kim Jeffries is the PLAY editor. She can be reached at [email protected]