As some of you know, I'm living with my grandfather for the near term, because he's 86 and needs some assistance, and the companionship's good for him. But he keeps asking me about video games.
This past week our lunch and dinner conversations centered on video games, because one naturally talks about work, and this is mine right now. But I also sense that he's increasingly curious about them - maybe from a big-picture standpoint. The guy's a Harvard MBA after all, and video games are an enormous, multibillion-dollar business.
So I've done my best to keep this in contexts he understands. I talked about Nintendo, and its strategy of exploring growth among casual demographics - unsaturated markets, in other words. There's a Wii bowling league in the retirement community club down here. He was especially fascinated by the back-and-forth between movie studios and game publishers, how one project will become an adaptation of the other, and why. We talked about military games - he was appalled by the concept of Six Days in Fallujah. A Marine colonel, he is familiar with that operation on a different level. I deliberately didn't tell him of Atomic's claims that they'd consulted with insurgents.
Granddad's never played a game in his life but he looks like he might be interested in seeing what one looks like. He was amazed by the complexity of the PlayStation 3 controller I showed him, especially when I told him about the tilt control and rumble feedback. I told him I was playing The Godfather II - an exceptional movie he enjoyed greatly - for a review. That clearly intrigued him, but I didn't show any of it to him Had it been a better game, I probably would have at least shown him some of the cinematics.
The longer I stay here, the more inevitable it will become that he's going to watch me demonstrate a game. And that brings up a question I'd like to put to you:
If you were showing someone the first video game he had ever seen in his life, and you wanted to show him the very best the industry had to offer, what would it be?
Call of Duty: World at War, or really any military game, is straight out, because this guy was a first-person shooter on Okinawa, and it wasn't entertaining. But what do I show him? Bioshock? Do I try to impress him with the depth of a world in an MMO or a sandboxer? Do I keep it simple with something like Braid?
Would it only be a cutscene or an introduction? Would it be actual gameplay? Bear in mind my grandfather is an extremely intellectually curious man. But he's also, with a gentle smile, said that the hobby "sounds like an enormous waste of time." But he is genuinely fascinated that people would spend so much time and money with it.