Monday, January 4, 2016

Memory, Memories, and Super Mario


Still suffering from writer's block and not able to get to the final draft of my ebook Service and Disservice, about the  iffy involvement of Canadian suffragettes in the 1917 Conscription Crisis, I decided to wake up my brain by doing something different.

(This book contains a VERY complicated story that took me 5 years to research and I am telling it from 4 different points of view.)

In the interim, I signed up to do those tests on one of the brain-training websites..

But, I put the cart before the horse.

When I later looked up the effectiveness of such 'brain-training' I discovered that many commentators don't believe the hype. These tests probably don't increase brain 'plasticity'. Walking and/or learning Italian, and/or playing video games do, tho.

Video games, imagine!

About 25 years ago I tried playing Mario with my kids and I stopped after 10 minutes.

I never tried again, especially since most games my kids played from then on were super violent (and noisy) and made me crazy.


Well, at New Years I phoned one of these sons, an avid gamer, and asked him to bring me over some games I might enjoy. We have a PS3 for Netflix, etc.

(Games for old codgers, type thing.  Earlier at a large family Christmas gathering, I had played a truly filthy Crimes, ah, Cards Against Humanity card game with some much younger relations who had to explain most of the dirty terms to me.)

He brought me Assassin's Creed, Rayman, NHL hockey, which I asked for thinking that my husband and I might play, and a few others...let's see,  An Alice in Wonderland game and one that has a female protagonist and puzzles to solve in the story...ah....Western One, where I might get to ride a virtual horse... and a film noir one called Bleak Rain or something. Two of these games are made by Ubisoft, in Quebec.

(See, my memory simply STINKS.)

And when he arrived, he put a 'vintage' Mario program  saying "You have to learn how to use a controller first."

Super Mario, my nemesis.


But, the good news is the sounds of Mario make me happy. They remind me of a simpler time, when I always knew where my kids were.

So I played and got to the 'third level' in a couple days. (It helps that my son is now much better at explaining what to do. He is, indeed, a very good teacher.)

Of course, you can't save anything, so you must go back over and over to get the next level. (Now, I finally understand why my young sons were so frustrated back then.)

Carey Price saves me every time. What? No Super Mario?

When my husband and I played NHL 13 the results were less happy. Our players looked drunk most of the time.

We both like hockey, tho, so we'll keep on trucking. It's something new to do together, something less passive than watching The Americans or driving to Costco for that health salad with kale and pumpkin seeds.

My New Year's Resolution: to learn to play these video games - and to find out why my sons love them.

I'll do the online brain-training games too, since I paid for it. But, I can see why some people say these games might not increase brain plasticity, if that is even possible after 20.

I played this fun memory game and got much better, but only by devising strategies to better remember what I had done, only through repetition.  My memory, per se, didn't get better.

I still can only hold about 8 to 10 things in my head at one time. And I tend to do very poorly the first try at any game.

Oh, I smell something. It's my curried lentils with salmon and blueberries on the stove. Ciao!

Here's a link to a Ted Talk, You Can Grow New Brain Cells..