“When I was a kid, I didn’t have a laptop, iPod, Blackberry, PS3 or iPad. I played outside with friends, bruised my knees, made up adventurous fantasies and played hide and seek. I ate what my mom made and KFC was a treat. I would think twice before I said “no” to my parents. Life wasn’t hard, it was great and I survived. Kids these days are spoiled. I think we were happier kids. Kids these days lost something: appreciation.”
I WAS born in a loving family, to wonderful parents – completing their family of five. Like any last child in the family, of course, I was spoiled.
I remember having my very first Play Station. My Grandpa bought it for my birthday, despite the constant ‘no’ from my Mom. It was such a gift, and I enjoyed playing RPG games alone, with my sisters, or my friends. I have to admit that I was quite a gamer, I repeated playing Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VIII, Legend of Mana, and Legend of Dragoon three times at the very least. Perfectionism kicked in; I need to master the game and finish all the side quests.
Looking back, it was really an exciting moment when you tried fighting the Bosses. Skipping dinner with a lame excuse of “Ohhh please Mom, I can’t save this game, I’m in the middle of fighting the Boss!” and not studying due to the urge to know what surprises will the game unfold in the next disc. I love RPG, I always have, always will.
Yet even though my childhood was spent on gaming, I could confidently say that I fit in those least 10% of children who played with gadgets. I hate The Sims, for some reasons that I didn’t know, and I hate computer games. Yet I know what I love: board games and puzzle.
I love all those board games: UNO, cards, Monopoly, Halma, Snake and ladder, Scrabble, and all other stuffs. I had a 1,500 pieces of puzzle that turned out to be a very beautiful fairy. When I played polypockets, my sister would play Lego and we would make a story out of it.
And more than that, I love bowling, I love billiard, and I love badminton.
My dad used to take me around and accompany me to play all these three sports. I even had my own bowling ball, black colour with sparkling stars all around which looked like the night sky, weighted 9 pounds, at the age of nine. I went to play billiard every holiday, just for the sake of competing in that nine ball game – even when my dad used his left hand, I still couldn’t win against him (he was right-handed). And every now and then he would accompany me playing badminton, and my new-found love for tabletennis.
I remembered the bedtime stories that he used to tell me. Instead of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty that got saved by the Prince Charming, I was told of his adventures to Bali, Lombok, Serang, and all other places. His job was quite dangerous back before I was born, and he has faced the guns – real guns, knives, curses, and all other dangers that you could think of. I promised him that we (my sisters and I) would make a biography about him someday. But for the time being, it was quite a story for an 8-year-old.
My Mom, on the other hand, was always the one who forced me to practice my piano skills, to read more books, and to study. But she was also the one who acted as the doctor when I bruised my knees. She always encouraged me to go cycling, bought me my very first roller-blade, and forced to go for a swim after school. Then I would stop at a nearby park and play slide, seesaw, and swing. She was also the one who taught me how to make brownies, to make cheesecake, and to try new recipes. She taught me how to cook, but I could confidently say that I failed miserably, except for the baking part.
Back in primary school my friends and I used to make our own games. We played hide and seek, twister, naming games, pictionary, police and thieves, ant-elephant-human, musical chair, chasing games, squat jump, and many more. When I entered senior high, I realised, we all brought our own NDS, iTouch, and PSP to be played in our student lounge time.
I grew up, finished high school, and went overseas to pursue further studies. Every holiday I went back, and sometimes a big family gathering with a dozen other relatives was held. While the previous gaming and relationship talks transformed into educational and work-related talks, I couldn’t help but notice my younger nieces and nephews were so occupied. They were not busy playing with each other – they were busy playing with their Nintendo DS.
The number one rule back when I was a child was there would be no gadget at the dining table. My Mom used to scold me for my endless text messaging to my friends. Yet here, in front of my eyes, at the once-a-year big family gathering, my relatives who were just four to six years old played with their gadgets like nothing else mattered, and screamed when their Mothers tried to take the games away.
The little girl that stood in front of me used to ask me to accompany her playing cooking games. Now she was busy texting her friends with her brand new Blackberry.
The six-year-old girl that sat beside me used to play naming games with me. Now her attention was entirely given to her Mario Kart game in NDS.
Then I saw another little boy, five-year-old, who was busy playing with his PSP while the nurse struggled to feed him.
And here we were, the older generation, thinking, about our own childhood – about television that has replaced bedtime stories; about Playstation that has replaced board games; about PSP and NDS that have replaced outdoor sports.
About the virtual world, that has replaced reality.