The year was 1977. Radio Shack was selling tons of CBs. (Citizen Band radios, for those too young to remember.) In this pre-smartphone era, this was a way for people to communicate with friends as they went about in their cars—or homes—just like truckers had been doing for years. CBers had their own language.
Terms like “bear” or “smokey” referred to police officers. Look out for them. An “angry kangaroo” was a truck with one or both of the headlights out. A “pregnant roller skate” was a VW Beetle. And there were numeric communications as well. Like “10-4” meant (and still does) either agreement or you’ve been acknowledged. Truckers use “10-7” to sign off.
That same year—1977—Radio Shack began selling their first video game. It was called “Pong.” About as basic as you can get, you could play by yourself or with someone else, and hit a video “ball” back and forth. Like ping pong. You could speed it up or slow down the game to your choosing. The video ball would bounce around the screen and, if you missed it, your opponent got the point. Game to 21.
That was the first and only video game I’ve ever mastered. I make no apologies. Video gaming has grown into a multi billion dollar business. Real numbers look like this. Global video game revenues in 2020 topped $179.7 billion! That means this industry is a bigger moneymaker than the global movie and North American sports industries combined. It’s left me in the dust.
I’ve been mostly able to ignore all this hyper-video activity as I’ve aged. Our own children were getting into the games to play on computers or with units that hooked up to the television. Now, my grandkids all have plenty of video games on their smartphones.
I mindlessly have been going about my own business. Until this past week. Our grandson from California came for a week. He was loaded up with his portable video game player and multiple very small chip-based games. Plus those on his smartphone. Like many kids—and adults—it becomes not just a time filler, but an addiction.
His week with us culminated with a trip to GameStop. Heaven for “gamers.” I was lost. They did have a video screen to watch. Streams of something like vlogs reviewing the latest and greatest video games. In language that belongs somewhere on another planet. The stars of the gaming universe also have PLENTY of podcasts as well. It’s like listening to a conversation in a Star Wars bar!
I’ve certainly not turned a blind eye of realization to know that there are very dark games in this foreign world. Things no one need to “play” as a game. I do not need to expand on this. Simply do a web search for “video game ratings for parents.” Start there.
The gamers have more than just the games and the language. They have special goggles (or whatever they call them) to wear. And there are special gaming chairs to sit in while watching your life fade away.
What? Me—a cynic? Yeah…I guess. What starts as a bit of entertainment becomes a mesmerizing addiction to many of our kids. And—yes—adults.
Ephesians 5:16-17 reads, “Making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (ESV)
Those are haunting words to me. The world offers so many distractions. I’m tempted by many. Becoming a “gamer” is not one of them. Despite my fling with pong.
Wow. I’ve been left well behind.
That’s Forward Thinking. Click on the link to the right to connect via Facebook.
You can find a number of YouTube episodes and podcasts of Mark’s program, Moving People Forward at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCosyuBzdSh1mXIas_kGY2Aw?
For more information on the Elfstrand Group, please visit www.elfstrandgroup.com
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