I always heard stories from my dad about how great the 1970s and1980s were but I never could grasp what was so great about it. After interviewing my father about what made the 1980s unique, special, and different, I was really able to make a connection of how identical his description was to the one that took place in Ready Player One. After comparing the similarities between the two, I was also able to make the connection of how different everything is today compared to the lifestyle back in the 1980s.
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Before I interviewed my dad, I informed him that I just read a book called Ready Player One and that a lot of the information was based from the 1980s thus I needed him to be as specific as possible with everything regarding the 1980s. I told him that I need to get an accurate description of his life in the 1980s so I could compare it to the one described in the book. To get his brain flowing and his memory kicking I asked him about the films, music and video games of the ’80s era. He said off the top of my head I can remember Ladyhawke, War Games, Monty Python, and the Holy Grail, Duran Duran, Pat Benatar, Pac-Man, Tempest, Zork, and even Dungeons and Dragons. I was in a bit of shock because everything he just listed off to me was mentioned in Ready Player one. I proceeded to ask him if he had ever read the book. He told me he hasn’t read book but I still couldn’t fathom the fact the that everything he just remembered was mentioned in the book. It was clear the references in the novel are pervasive, and they alone can tell any reader that his book is intended for people who grew up in the 80s and have fond memories of that era. I believe that in itself it is pretty cool, but sometimes the constant bandying about the 1980s stuff can get a little tiring due to the fact I didn’t get to experience it.
My dad felt that he hit all of his geek culture at once while he was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s. He said that Saturday mornings consisted of cartoons such as Star Blazers and Robotech. Then there were live action shows like Ultraman and The Space Giants. Currently, my dad tries to engage with my brother and I when we play video games, but he just is not up to speed with the new found technology, systems, and games. Typically, when we play my brother and I beat my dad and it always results in him saying, “if you guys played the games that I played when I grew up, I would beat the pants off both of you.” So I finally asked my father in the interview what games he would play and what he used for technology was like back in the day. Similar to the description in Ready Player One my dad talked about Atari. He had all of their video games but also had other video games not related to Atari such as Video Pong, Space Invaders, and Froggers. My dad claims he was welded to his Atari 2600. Also, he expressed his profound love for Pac-Man. He played hours and hours of Pac-Man and considers it to be one of the greatest video games ever created. After he grew out of his Pac-Man and Atari 2600 phase, it was all about his first computer the TRS-80. Being the geek that my dad was and still currently is, he had to have the TRS-80. Based on his best knowledge he believe he paid around $600 at the time for it. I feel that from what I heard from my dad and what I read in Ready Player One, that they both are so similar in their course of actions and interests. I acquire this inclination because it sounds like they both grew up immersing themselves in all of these fads and that it seemed to form just about all of their adolescence.
I know that I did not grow up in the 1980s and have no idea of what the atmosphere was like but from what I read and heard from my father about the popularity of video games, I believe that my generation experienced something quite similar to theirs with the fascination of video games. I remember like it was yesterday my parents were going away on vacation and told my brother and I that they had a surprise for us before they left. My brother and I couldn’t hold the excitement in as we could only hope it was the Nintendo 64. We ripped off
the gift wrap and there it was the Nintendo 64. I recall being speechless and in state of shock because I finally had my own Nintendo 64. Now I can’t speak for every kid but a majority of my childhood consisted of playing video games. My memories of playing the games with my friends, being excited about a new video game console, and the pure anticipation of buying the new and hottest video games still stick with me today. I was glued to my Nintendo 64 and could not stop playing Super Mario 64 and NFL Blitz. I was like Wade in Ready Player One, I did not care what was happening around me, all I wanted to do was play my Nintendo 64. Like Wade said in Ready Player One, “Going outside is highly overrated”(Cline, P.267) I found this funny because as a kid this is exactly how I felt. Anyways after the Nintendo 64 phase grew old, it was all about the Xbox, Nintendo Gamecube, Playstation and Play Station Portable. Sadly my parents never bought me the Gameboy but they made up for it by buying me three of those four systems. My house had turned into a video arcade, my friends always couldn’t wait to come over. What can I say my house was the place to be as a kid. As usual this phase grew old and then it was all about the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. I was in the 9th grade had been working about 8 hours week and had been saving my weekly checks. My eyes were zoned in on buying myself an Xbox 360. My parents offered to buy it for my brother and I if we agreed we could get along and wouldn’t fight. I told them off, I wanted my own Xbobx 360. The day I had saved up $400, I immediately went to Gamestop and bought my Xbox 360 and the video game Madden. My days in high school were long, boring, and unbearable. I was a pretty shy kid and was a little bit socially awkward. Reading Ready Player One realized that I was actually kind of like Wade. Wade described himself as the following, “I was a painfully shy, awkward kid, with low self-esteem and almost no social skills” (Cline, P. 19). I had a couple close friends but my 4 years of high school were a drag and I dreaded going to school everyday. I would get excited at the end of the day when all I could think about was going home having a snack and playing my Xbox 360 for the rest of the day. I can relate this to Ready Player One when Wade says, “Being human totally sucks most of the time. Videogames are the only thing that make life bearable” (Cline, P.85).
As I went off to college, I told myself that I was going to make lots of friends, limit my video games and try to be as social as possible. My freshmen year was a blast I made a great group of friends and was glad it was the exact opposite of high school. The last line in Ready Player One emotionally effected and touched me that I almost started to tear up. Following Wade finally meeting Art3mis and getting his overdue kiss he says, “It occurred to me that for the first time in as long as I could remember, I had absolutely no desire to log back into the OASIS” (Cline, P. 372) I relate to this because when I finally made a lot of friend in college I played less and less video games and dedicated my time to the outside world and being social. I will admit even today as I am a 23 year old senior at Umass, I still enjoy playing my Xbox 360. The excitement, thrill, and memories aren’t the same as I was when I played with my friends in high school but somehow I still find a way to play and enjoy my Xbox 360. The video games were very different when I was growing up compared to the ones talked about in Ready Player One and that my dad discussed but the nature of the kids were similar. My dad talked about how he was a huge Atari fan and that he would make it his goal to try and buy every new video game that they made. In Ready Player One, Wade was the same way, he played every video game, beat every video game, and just for fun he would play it over and over again. This is similar to kids in my generation because we all seemed to be obsessed with technology and have to be up to date with the newest model whether it is a video game, laptop, or Iphone. Similar to my father, my friends and I always lived off playing video games and we were always spending hundreds and hundreds of dollars buying the newest games. When my dad tries to play on my Xbox 360 with me, I can see it in his eyes that he is focused in on the video game and he has that look that he can play and win this game even though he has never played it before. I attribute this to the fact that he played so many video games as a kid and that playing with me brings back great memories and this is kind of his way of bringing back those times. There may be a 30 year age difference between my dad and I and there may be a gap in differences between the types of video games we played but at heart most of our childhood is the same revolving around playing video games and being so passionate about them.
The question and answer that caught my attention the most during the interview with my father was: How is the world today different from what it was like when you were a child? My dads first remark was everything is way too fast paced these days. He believes that people are so caught up in technology and work, that people aren’t enjoying themselves and everyone is in the state of mind that if they aren’t doing something then they are missing out. Back in the ’80s everyone was more relaxed, friendly, and didn’t have an over aggressive mindset according to him as well. The major differences between now and back in the 1980s is the use of technology. When my dad was a teenager he did not have the internet so when he had to do a research paper, he had to go to library and actually read books and take notes. He said he believes this is why people from his generation are more educated than people in my generation because people took time to read books, do research, and understand what had happened and is happening around them. This compares to in Ready Player One when Wade says . “You’d be amazed how much research you can get done when you have no life whatsoever” (Cline, P. 105). Not that my dad didn’t have a life but back in the ’80s everything was more relaxed and there wasn’t an urge to constantly be on the move thus he was able to research and expand his horizons. This makes sense to me because if I ever have to do research for a paper or homework, I will quickly skim over a couple of websites online and pick out a couple of facts from each website and then I will have enough information. I myself could not have lived back in the 1980s. I am not a big reader and am one that gets most of my information and facts off the internet. The only time that I go to library here at school is if I need to print something out or meet up with a group to work on a project. Any information that I need whether it is for a paper, class, work, etc. can be found within seconds of going on the internet.
After putting myself in shock for somewhat agreeing with my dad regarding how everyone is fast paced and how people in his generation may be more educated, his remark about technology in general left me stunned. He said that he wished certain technology was never developed. I proceeded to ask him specifically what products he was talking about. He said he can’t stand cell phones andbelieves that people in my generation are addicted to their phones. His belief is that, what is so wrong with calling somebody at their house or work place and talking to them or just leaving a voice-mail. The urgency of having to have an answer right away or talk to somebody immediately does not digest well with my father. He also hates texting and says it is the worst form of communication and it does more harm than good.
My dad went on and on about how texting causes so many automobile accidents, people don’t have to pick up the phone to communicate, and our overall communication skills are decreasing because we no longer have to speak to communicate with someone. I can see exactly where my dad is coming from and I know he gets angered by texting and the general use of cell phones. I will be the first one to admit it is nearly impossible for me to shut my Iphone off for the day and not use it. Two weekends ago I was in Indiana with seven of my friends and we were all out to dinner. There was one point during dinner that all eight of us were on our Iphones checking the news and twitter about the catching of the Boston marathon bomber. We couldn’t have just one person on their phone giving updates and then talk amongst ourselves about it, we all had to be on our phone checking the news and checking twitter to see the constant updates. This would have definitely agitated my dad because he hates when our family goes out to dinner and my brother and I are on our cell phones. Whether we are texting a friend back or checking the score of a sports game, it doesn’t matter to my dad. He gets very upset and is constantly telling us to put the phone away at dinner because it is rude and he wants us to engage in conversation with him and my mom. If I had to go try and relive the 1980s today I would never survive. Knowing that I would not have access to my Iphone would probably scare me because I am so dependent on it. I can barely make it through a dinner with my family without checking my phone, then how would I survive a decade without being on a phone?
I have already mentioned a couple times that I don’t believe I would have been able to make it had I lived back in the 1980s. It is tough to specifically pick one form of entertainment in my lifetime that I couldn’t go on without. During my days in middle school and high I would have said I couldn’t have went on without my video game consoles. Like I stated earlier video games seemed to take up a majority of my time during my adolescence. It didn’t matter what system or what game I was playing, I always found a way to have fun and stay engaged. For me most importantly when I played video games it was a time when I could get away from thinking of the bad day I had at school or some type of unnecessary drama that was happening in my life. Since I have got away from playing video games since arriving at college, I would say as of right now I couldn’t make it without my Iphone. My Iphone seems to have everything I need. I can call whoever I want whenever I want, I can send out a text if I don’t have time to talk on the phone, I can browse the internet, I can check my emails, and I can check how much money is in my bank account. If I didn’t have my Iphone I would have to have some type of home phone and voice-mail that I check regularly, I would have to go on my computer to check my emails, facebook, twitter and everything else. The fact that just about everything that I need to do to communicate and live with is in the palm of my hand makes my Iphone a top necessity and it is unimaginable of what I would do without it.
I have not ready many non-sports books in my lifetime. I know it is bad when I can’t even remember the last time I read a complete book that was not related to sports. Ready Player One is honestly a fantastic book and I think is a recommended for anyone. This book does a fantastic job at representing the lifestyle that was in the 1980s while still incorporating technology from the present and even taking it a step further by predicting what technology will be like 30 years from now. I was able to get a grasp of a little bit of everything that happened in the 1980s from this book but I specifically learned a lot from the video games and on my spare time have done research on the games just to get a general feel of what the games were like and how popular they actually were. Overall, I have been able to see how my dad growing up in the 80s and this book were similar while also
realizing that my lifestyle as a kid, teenager, and adult is completely different and changed from the 1980s.
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