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Gigi Our Original Gamer – Pac-Man

I recently learned something quite interesting about video games.  Many young people have developed incredible hand, eye, and brain coordination in playing these games.  The air force believes these kids will be our outstanding pilots should they fly our jets.  ~Ronald Reagan

Nicole, Mom & Ryan hanging at grams house 1984

This past Christmas Kyle got a PlayStation 3 (PS3), not that he needed an additional means to play more video games.  But just as expected, he was ecstatic over the purchase.  What really cracks me up, is he has the Wii with a boatload of video games and Wii Fitness, which he barely plays anymore.  Let’s not forget all the games he’s purchased on his iPod Touch, the computer and he still plays with his Nintendo DS.  I guess he has a game for any occasion and any location.

With the availability of this new console, my sister decided to encourage his already obsessive behavior by purchasing him his very own Burnout Paradise and a few other games.  Kyle LOVES that game.  Every year since the establishment of ‘Aunt Nikki and Kyle’s Week of Fun’ Kyle has practically mastered the game and dreams about playing that game every year before vacationing at Nicole’s house.  In fact, if he hears Paradise City by Guns N’ Roses, he’ll get in this almost nostalgic state and have a yearning to visit my sister to play.  No joke!  He’s actually said to me, “Aunt Heather now I really want to go to Aunt Nikki’s to play Burnout Paradise.”  Now Nicole and Kyle can play Burnout Paradise with each other in the evenings.  Since my sister is four hours away, this is kind of a neat way to hang out, through a video game.  I guess any excuse to spend time with each other is a good excuse.

Kyle playing his Nintendo DS.  T-shirt courtesy of Aunt Nikki c. 2009

Sometimes I wonder if the desire to play video games is an inherited behavior.  Ryan wasn’t really that into video games, he would rather be outside hunting and fishing or working on cars.  Playing every once in a while, I can say I’m not really big into video games myself.  I would rather be reading, snowboarding, running or hiking.  My sister, although I would never constitute her as a gamer, does like to play video games more than any of us.  My dad, forget it.  He’s never touched a computer and the only Wii game he’s ever played was Cabela’s Hunting.  Probably because we have a plastic gun type of accessory to house the Wii remote control, giving it that kind of hunting feel.  Mom will sit and play a Wii game if Kyle pleads with her to do so.  She tries, but the games are a lot more complex than they used to be and her eyesight isn’t all that great.  Let’s not forget her reflexes aren’t what they used to be either.  How do I know?  Mom had the potential to be a modern day gamer.

Way long time ago, in the 1980’s, when Atari came out, my parents purchased us the console and a few games.  Prior to, we had a very basic game called Pong.  Not too exciting but was enough to stimulate us for a while.  Now, when the Atari arrived, it did catch our attention, at least initially.  We had Frogger, always one of my favorites and still is.  As a matter of fact, I downloaded it to our Wii console but the desire to play it isn’t there anymore.  On a side note, Seinfeld did an episode on Frogger.  It was great!

Another game which logged a lot of hours was Combat.  This one required two players and dad owned it!  Within Combat, there were different games such as tanks or airplanes.  Basically you shot each other up until someone was out of ammo.  That was up dad’s alley, not really my bag.  Ryan on the other hand loved Pole Position!  This was his cup of tea.  It was a racing game whereas you viewed the screen as if you were really driving the car.  You needed to avoid other drivers, maneuver around curves and avoid crashing.   It was fun picking the different courses.

PacMan Aunt Heather Piper

I can’t remember Nicole having a favorite game, but I’m sure she did.  A few other videos we owned included Q-Bert, Space Invaders, Pitfall, Missile Command and Donkey Kong.  There were many more games to purchase, but we didn’t get new ones just because we wanted them, only for special occasions, unlike kids of today.

atari2600 Aunt Heather Piper
This is what our Atari console looked like! Love the 80’s!

Intentionally, I left one game out of the list because it is the spotlight of my rant.  The one the only, the original Pac-Man!  I look at Pac-Man as the Angry Birds of our present day.  Coming as part of the Atari console package, along with Combat, Pac-Man was the game!  There was even a cartoon made to continue the phenomenon.  Being a relatively simple game, your yellow Pac-Man guy had to eat these dots or pills in the maze without being attacked from Blinky (Red), Inky (light blue), Pinky (Pink) and Clyde (Orange), the ghosts.  Naturally there were opportunities to power up and gain additional points.  Each level became faster and faster and the mazes changed slightly, becoming increasingly difficult.

Back in the day, mom was our master Pac-Man master.  She really was, without question.  Presently, we relive this tale of how the most unassuming member of the family, who stood on the sidelines watching everyone take their shot at the title, turned into a Pac-Man powerhouse behind closed doors.  Yes mom, kicked all of our butts!  I’ll never forget the day we realized mom rained supreme with this simple Atari game.

Mom doesn’t look like she’s having a nice day… 1980’s

It happened on the most ordinary of days.  Upon filing into the house after coming home from school, we naturally ran to the Atari console to challenge each other to a game, letting our hair down and relaxing before homework.  One of us, either me, Ryan or Nicole plugged in the Pac-Man game.  The high score glowed throughout the room, blinding our eyes and taunted us like a cruel joke.  We seriously didn’t say anything at first and just kind of stared at each other wondering who accomplished this feet without everyone knowing, and when?  Just then, mom walked into the living-room sporting a huge grin on her face, as if proud of herself for kicking her very own flesh and blood’s scores to the curb, in a single day!  Mom’s master craftsmanship of game playing was done in one day, while we were at school and dad at work.

Remaining stunned and in complete shock, we challenged mom to a game of Pac-Man, but alas it was a futile attempt at reclaiming our place, ever.  For the duration of the Atari gaming system in our household, mom was undefeated.  We sincerely tried, all of us.  We also had our cousins up, but alas the damage had been done.

PacMan Game Aunt Heather PiperMom played Pac-Man so much her wrists would even flare up and bother her, but she would push through the discomfort for the thrill of the game.  Sometimes we would have mom play just so we could watch her and learn the next levels in case one day we would make it that far.  Mom was seriously fast with her ninja-like reflexes.  It’s almost like she was using The Force to guide her through the mazes.

What was mom’s top score?  Seriously, I don’t even remember and neither does she, but I do remember it was always better than any score I’ve ever seen on any free standing Pac-Man machines found in the arcades and any friends Atari console.  Mom doesn’t really play anymore but she still lives the memories of her gaming days through this story.  Kyle doesn’t really understand, even though he knows what Pac-Man is, we had a Plug & Play containing old Atari games.  But I can tell he really can’t visualize what I’ve witnessed and what we lived to tell the tale.

Looks like mom was the Piper family’s original gamer!  Look out Kyle if you ever decide to challenge Gigi to a game of Pac-Man, you will be rudely awakened!

Published inBooks, Movies, ShowsCommon SenseEducation & LearningFamilyHiking & OutdoorsHunting & FishingMilestoneObservation & ImaginationPatienceReminiscing

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