The first member of the children’s/YA literature camp that I’m featuring in the Games & Books & Q&A series is Greg Pincus, the author of middle grade novel The 14 Fibs of Gregory K. (Arthur A. Levine Books). Greg also writes poetry (including the Fib, a form he invented) and screenplays, and he blogs about children’s literature at GottaBook.
CB: What do you remember about the first video game you ever played?
GP: It was awesome. And it was Pong. I remember thinking that it was fun to be able to use the TV in a different and interactive way… and that you got to play with a second person, too. [See Greg with his dad, below, playing an unknown game on a borrowed console that grown-up Greg cannot identify.]
CB: What games did you play the most when you were a kid? What did you love about them?
GP: I was actually more of a pinball buff, and we didn’t have our own home console… but still, I mean, if there was a Space Invaders machine around? Well, I was on it. Missile Command was a sore spot for me because, seriously, the controls just never worked well. (No!!! It wasn’t that I was no good at the game! The controls just didn’t work well.) But I played it anyway, along with Pac-Man and some Q*bert and Marble Madness and Galaga and Centipede. But not Asteroids. I just stunk at that. In all cases what I loved was that there was lots of action, sometimes some strategy (and often that you had to think about on the fly), serious hand-eye coordination, and what seemed like a lot of variation. Plus, games are fun.
GP: I still love video games, though now I mostly play them on my phone or via the Xbox. I also really limit my time on them because I know, truly know, that I could easily play for hours, particularly since I have a need to finish/beat games! I play games with my kids, too, and watch them do things that I cannot do (my visual-spatial skills are a generation behind!). I still prefer games that require some strategy and thought rather than just pure shooters, and marvel at the way graphics have evolved. And most of all, I love the way games have evolved to tell stories and create worlds… or allow the player to do the same. It’s a rich, fun sandbox out there! (Though I still play Space Invaders whenever I run into an old machine.)
I expect to continue this series through the October publication of my book Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer’s Alphabet. If there’s anyone in the gamer or kidlit camp that you’d love to see me feature in upcoming posts in this series, please drop me a line or tweet at me or just leave a message in the comments.