Tomorrow I start a new job as an entry-level Ruby on Rails programmer. I’ve got a three month probation to prove that I have what it takes at a small Japanese startup. It’s been a long process of reinventing myself from an arts type to becoming a programmer. One of the things I swore off of a long time ago was video games. The last console I owned was a Sega Saturn. Yeah, I thought it was better than a PlayStation I.
I loved all kinds of games and wasted my childhood on Super Mario Bros. (the original). No one ever thought these games did us any good. It was just fun and that’s all that ever matters to a child. It doesn’t take a genius to know that clearing Super Mario Bros. wouldn’t get you an A in English or math.
In fact, deep down inside I thought games made me stupid, albeit an idiot with good reflexes. Seeing the video game arcade wizards so pale, skinny and expressionless doing wonders with the joystick while struggling to have a conversation or making eye contact didn’t help either.
I must say the Nintendo DS is a clever coup for adult naysayers. The entice “good adults” with game titles like Brain Age that alleviate our fears of continued mental decline as the internet makes every thing a mouse click away. Brain Age was the only game I owned for the last couple of months. Then the other day I splurged on Tetris DS since I landed a new job.
Playing people from around the world through DS’s wi-fi functionality was a shock of fresh air. Suddenly, I was a child playing my best friends in my living room competing for high points. I never touched Brain Age for a whole five days since getting Tetris.
You can imagine my shock when I played Brain Age to document my mental decline only to set a new record playing “Calculations x100” by clocking a new personal record of 1 minute and 12 seconds. Fighting competition on Tetris enabled me to enter a state of flow where my logical mind would constantly interfere with irrelevant thoughts.
Although I’m sure that if I didn’t play Brain Age for a couple more months that my score would really drop, maybe having a little fun is not only a way to relax but also good for you mind as well. As the first adults to grow up on video games, we need to keep an open mind. Brain science still has a long way to go before they can ever provide conclusive evidence that games really are bad for you.
Who knows, maybe Tetris will make me a better programmer?