How to raise a gamer

This guy went about it much more systematically than I did, but to somewhat similar effect:

My son Eliot was born in 2004 — the year of Half-Life 2, Doom 3, and the launch of the Nintendo DS. By the time he was born, video games were a $26B industry.

I love games, and I genuinely wanted Eliot to love and appreciate them too. So, here was my experiment: Start with the arcade classics and Atari 2600, from Asteroids to Zaxxon. After a year, move on to the 8-bit era with the NES and Sega classics. The next year, the SNES, Game Boy, and classic PC adventure games. Then the PlayStation and N64, Xbox and GBA, and so on until we’re caught up with the modern era of gaming.

Would that child better appreciate modern independent games that don’t have the budgets of AAA monstrosities like Destiny and Call of Duty? Would they appreciate the retro aesthetic, or just think it looks crappy?

And this, for me, is the most interesting impact of the experiment.

Eliot’s early exposure to games with limited graphics inoculated him from the flashy, hyper-realistic graphics found in today’s AAA games. He can appreciate retro graphics on its own terms, and focus on the gameplay.

The lo-fi graphics in games like VVVVVV, FTL, or Cave Story might turn off other kids his age, but like me, he’s drawn to them.

Ender didn’t play enough video and computer games to have turned into a super-gamer like Eliot, but I’ve noticed that he does enjoy playing older games like Warlords and Fantasy General rather than clickfests and twitch games. He’s also a good ASL player and a decent, though not superlative wargamer, as well as being deep into the mod scene.

The skill that Eliot has developed from his early exposure, to such an extent that he’s much better than his father is fascinating though, especially when I consider how Ender was similarly exposed to more military theory and strategy than the average West Pointer.