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The Atari Rules

Editor’s Note: Today’s post is from the blogger Chloe. Whether she’s writing about parenting a Generation Z toddler or remembering the favorite toys or movies of Generation X, her blog serves as a virtual chapel where you can “find some peaceful resonance.” I encourage you to follow this talented writer and thinker. I’ve gotten to know her better through a special exchange of emails. Once you get to know her you will cherish even more the words she’s written about God: “If there is one thing He  has done throughout the centuries, it has been to reach people within their generation, within their culture, within their context.”

by Chloe via Light from a Pixel: The Spiritual and Philosophical

In the early 80s, when I was in early elementary school, I often went to the babysitter’s with a group of kids all roughly my age. She also had a toddler and two older kids of her own. The Toddler kept busy with tantrums and snacks of cheese and crackers. The Older Kids were teenagers and I was pretty sure they knew any given fact in the universe. Mornings before school at their house consisted of watching Scooby-Doo.

Word on the street was that The Older Kids were going to get an Atari. It was decided immediately that The Toddler, known for breaking things, would go nowhere near it. I knew that I was going to have to do some serious convincing or they might not let me near it, either. After weeks of intense back-porch negotiations, it was decided that once the Atari showed up, I could go watch The Older Kids play and that I might be allowed to play for a minute if I followed the ATARI RULES LIST.

The ATARI RULES LIST went something like this:  

1) Do not touch the console.

2) Do not hit the reset button on the console while the Older Kids are playing.

3) Do not stare at the console for too long, because you might become tempted to touch it.

4) Do not complain, make unreasonable demands, or even talk, while in the presence of the Atari.

The anticipated day finally came.  I arrived at the house as the morning sun spilled through the window illuminating harvest gold and avocado green items in the kitchen.  I wanted to sprint down the hallway to the room where the Atari was, but I needed to be nonchalant as I entered the presence of The Older Kids as they played the game.

And behold… of my Gen X childhood memories, this is one of the most monumental: walking across the shag carpet of a hallway to see Atari for the first time as it was being played on a black-and-white TV.  The asteroids floated by and a spunky little space ship was shooting at them like crazy.  My eyes had been introduced to the pixels.  My ears had been introduced to digital sounds.

I hovered in the doorway.

They hesitated.

I made it clear that their beloved Atari was safe because I was abiding by the ATARI RULES LIST.  They let me play although I proved to be an amateur asteroid blaster.  When my time was up they asked me to hand the joystick back.  Weeks of negotiations only led to a few fleeting moments with the game, but I knew that they saw how much I loved it and that they’d eventually let me play some more.  I also knew that morning I had been introduced to something amazing.  I walked back to the living room to watch Scooby-Doo with The Younger Kids and brag about my morning galactic encounter.

If you’re interested in more about video game memories and vintage Generation X stuff, along with spiritual and philosophical issues of the Gen X experience, check out my blog: Light From a Pixel.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. heyray

    Hey, my older brother gave me the SAME RULES! The swiftness with which he could deflect my smaller hand if I attempted to hit the reset button was of Olympic proportions.

  2. Fortuitous Observer

     This reminds me so much of my own Atari experience.  It seemed to be such a sacred object to many Gen Xers.  Our parents were so worried that Atari would turn us into mindless creatures.  Fortunately, we still preferred playing outdoors to sitting inside and putting the joy stick through it its paces!  Thanks for my morning trip down Memory Lane.

  3. ChloeGXP

    Jen – thanks so much for both featuring me recently on the blue plate special and for letting me a guest blogger!  I had so much fun writing about my first Atari encounter!


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