Playing Indoors (Temporarily!)

One of the crazes that came after my childhood that never caught my attention was the video game in its various incarnations.

Pong showed up when I was fifteen, followed closely by Space Invaders when I was eighteen. If I was going to get hooked, those were the primo ages to do it.

It never happened. I always preferred pastimes that required physical involvement of real objects, rather than those electronically produced.

I guess that’s why I’m so baffled by the generations of kids who followed mine who would gladly curl up with a Colecovision, Nintendo, Wii, or Atari (lots of years just covered there!) on a perfectly beautiful day rather than go outside and enjoy the real world.

I know that if such a thing as the gaming console would have existed circa 1967, and if it had managed to grab my attention, its use would have been STRICTLY for rainy days in the Enderland house. My mom would have insisted on it.

I grew up with the idea that the outdoors was for play. The indoors was for play if the weather didn’t allow for outdoors play. And sometimes, on a warm rainy day in the summer, f’rinstance, it was a blast to play outdoors in decidedly indoor weather!

My mom had an aversion for me laying around inside when the weather was nice outside. That principle has stuck with me all the way into middle age. If it’s a nice day outside, and if I’m not working, I feel guilty doing something inside. So I make my way outdoors and do yard work, or mess with my car, or even slip off for eighteen holes of idiot ball, AKA golf.

But there were those days when a kid simply had to play inside. Frequently, the weather would be so bad that he was on his own, his friends also temporarily locked in their indoor prisons.

Needless to say, we didn’t yack on the phone. Mom might miss a call. Another thing about the younger generations that baffles me is how they can talk for hours on cell phones.

So, it was time to get the Lincoln Logs, Tinkertoys, or GI Joe out and set up the indoor entertainment on the bedroom or living room floor.

But mom would keep a wary eye on the weather. And once the sun came out, it was time to get outside.

What would she think of kids who go without sleep in order to compete in online games that completely remove them from the real world? Some serious online gamers will emerge from a session absolutely unaware of what time it is, or what DAY it is.

My own kids did catch the video game bug. It began with Commander Keen on my very first PC back in 1993. I must admit, Jurassic park (the game) hooked the whole family, including Yours Truly, a year later. But once again, I only played at night or when the weather was bad.

For better or worse, (I strongly suspect the latter), kids today spend many, many more hours indoors than we Boomers did. The idea of hanging out with neighborhood kids all day long like we once did is foreign to many of them. In many cases, this is because parents are simply afraid to let them do so. After all, the world that was ours was a much safer place than the one our grandkids possess.

But even if that’s the case, I still think it’s a good idea to get the kids and/or grandchildren away from the various electronic forms of indoor entertainment and get them OUTSIDE, even if dad or grandpa has to go with them to keep an eye on things.

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