Thursday, June 30, 2011

Child's Play

Yesterday I saw a little girl playing. She looked about 3, in pigtails and garbed in what seemed like her Sunday dress and cute little doll sandals.

She was in front of a computer in an internet shop in one of the backstreets near Espana surrounded by teen-aged boys in various states of undress, playing games which, had they been set in real-life, would probably mean that a civil war or World War III has just landed on the shores of some country. The little girl was playing a game with weird purple animals. The boys were playing with virtual guns and weapons of mass destruction.

I guess I should be disturbed. I think I am, despite the fact that at that moment, I found the scene rather cute.

When I was young, I was regaled by stories of how my parents' generation spent their afternoons and free time as children. I was told by my dad of how he collected comics, traded "Tex,"and made money off of selling cards of different kinds. Some of these games still existed in my generation. As a child, I guess I played more like a boy than a girl. I also used to collect "Tex" and little toy soldiers. I played Tumbang Preso and the local version of "football". I played Syato and Langit Lupa and Tago-taguan. I would race my bike against the local riffraff down rocky slopes and I didn't like losing. Needless to say, I was very competitive. On the rare times of lucidity, I would have a childhood friend or two over and we would open a can of corn, have the maid cook hotdog and play house. (After she or they left, my sister and I would usually have a wrestling session - she would sometimes end up with a bloody nose. I got very annoyed when she tattled.)

Nowadays, I rarely see children playing in the streets the way we used to.

Admittedly, I have seen kids playing badminton or volleyball but never Syato or Tumbang Preso. It seems like the dinosaurs of child's games have long been rendered extinct by the newer, cooler games.

Speaking of high-tech games, a friend of mine brought his son to Manila for his wedding - the child lived in Palawan with his parents (the child's grandparents). The child was about 8 and rarely would you be able to squeeze out a coherent phrase from him nor get him to look at you for 10 seconds because his nose was always pressed against the screen of his PSP. It was pathetic, really. He was as skinny as spaghetti and had runny nose and an annoying high-pitched keen when he whined/spoke. Was he emulating a video character? I knew not.

I think that we should be disturbed that the children of this generation no longer know how to interact and communicate properly. The games which were bases for bonding, friendship and creativity are seemingly no longer relevant to today's youth. They are more concerned about what apps and games they can download with their jailbroken gadgets. They don't talk, instead they curse PI's and G*go ka, t*r*nt*do ka!” over each other's heads in crowded internet shops while playing DOTA or some other game which entailed a lot of blood and guts splattered over the screen. Kids these days don't care about art and imagination – instead they ooh and ahh over sexy imaginary girls clad in scanty outfits.

I don't know about you, but I think I am happy having had the childhood a had throwing rubber balls at friends and getting scraped knees.Computers? Internet? DOTA? We can all learn it later when we're older, but kids should be able to stretch their limbs and run themselves silly.

At least, that's what I think. (Then again, I still play with my really old Gameboy Color. Super Mario Brothers, huzzah!)

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