I Bought Nintendo...and Turned into a Total Goober

Marriage Partnership - Dave Barry

Winter 1990

Okay, I bought my child a Nintendo video-game system. I realize I should not admit this. I realize the Child Psychology Police may arrest me for getting my child a mindless, addictive, antisocial, electronic device instead of a constructive, old-fashioned, educational toy like an Erector Set. Well, let me tell you something: All my childhood friends had Erector Sets and I happen to know that in addition to the recommended educational projects such as the Truck, the Crane and the Carousel, it was possible to build the Bug Pulper, the Worm Extender and the Gears of Pain.

You've probably read a lot of articles by Leading Child Psychologists telling you why Nintendo is a bad thing, so let me discuss some of the benefits.

Benefit No. 1

Nintendo enables the child to develop a sense of self-worth by mastering a complex, demanding task that makes his father look like a total goober.

The typical Nintendo game involves controlling a little man who runs around the screen trying to stay alive while numerous powerful and inexplicably hostile forces try to kill him. When I play, the little man becomes highly suicidal. All my games end instantly, whereas my son can keep the little man alive through several presidential administrations. He is always trying to cheer me up by saying, "Good try, Dad!" in the same patronizing voice I once used to praise him for not getting peas in his hair.

What is worse, he gives me Helpful Nintendo Hints that are far too complex for the adult mind to comprehend. Here's a verbatim example: "Okay, there's Ganon and miniature Ganon, and there's these things like jelly beans, and the miniature Ganon is more powerfuller, because when you touch him the flying eagles come down and the octopus shoots red rocks and the swamp takes longer."

The thing is, I know he's right.

Benefit No. 2

Nintendo strengthens the community.

One evening I got an emergency telephone call from our nextdoor neighbor, Linda, who said, her voice breathless with urgency: "Is Robby there? Because we just got Gun.smoke (a Nintendo game), and we can't get past the horse." I notified Robby immediately. "It's the Liebmans," l said "They just got Gunsmoke, and they can't get past the horse."

He was out the door in seconds, striding across the yard, a Man on a Mission. Of course, he got them past the horse. He can get his man all the way to the bazooka. My man dies during the opening credits.

Benefit No. 3

When a child is playing Nintendo, the child can't watch regular television.

Recently on the local news, one relentlessly personable anchorperson was telling us about a murder at a Pizza Hut. When she was done, the other relentlessly personable anchorperson got a frowny look on his face, shook his head sadly and said—I am not making this up—"A senseless tragedy, and one that I am sure was unforeseen by the victims involved."

I don't want my child exposed to this.

So Mr. and Ms. Child Psychologist, don't try to tell me Nintendo is so terrible, okay? Don't tell me it makes children detached and aggressive and antisocial. In fact, don't tell me anything.

Not while the octopus is shooting these rocks.