Pong Killed Outdoor Play, Tis True
You just have to love technology. But, then again, it did wipe out imaginative play as we know it. Childhood was so simple in the early sixties. We had no choice. My parents and their parents had even a simpler time. We didn’t have cell phones that interrupted our play with a text from your mother that simply read, “Dinner.” No, they had to stand out on the porch and yell for us. On the third yell, we would go home.
We had jump rope, a kick ball, and indoor board games. Can’t forget about pogo sticks. We weren’t indoors much. The neighborhood was filled with children playing, people hand washing their cars, and neighbors sitting outside on their porches in the hot summer evenings. Many didn’t have central air conditioning. We knew our neighbors. We also knew when Mr. Softie was coming around in his ice cream truck. We could hear the music. Because we were outside.
As the sixties moved closer to the seventies, it was still like that. We now had eight track stereos to occupy our time, but not much more. We would sit out on our front porches, but this time, waiting for boys to drive around and around the block, finally to stop and talk to all the neighborhood girls my age who hung out on my front porch. But, in and around 1975, that all changed. We started staying indoors more. Things were changing, for sure. And we can point our fingers to one new gadget.
Yes, Pong. Not to be confused with Beer Pong. This was played without alcohol. Well, unless you really enjoyed drunk ping pong.
I know what you young people are thinking. Are you kidding me? But, yes, this was exciting stuff. I mean, we could turn on the tv and use this game console and play ping pong. There were no pictures or bombs going off or bullets flying. This was ping pong and nothing else. And we were thrilled.
Now, we did have pinballl machines. I was quite good at the one at The Pub, a local dive where we all congregated in college. My mom even bought a pin ball machine for our basement rec room. We were the coolest family on the block. But, Pong was different, because it was on tv.
In the end, Pong was fun, and it was just a matter of time before we were hearing names such as Sega and then Playstation.
And life as we knew it changed forever.
And we can blame it all on Pong.