In thinking of the best moments and memories pertaining to gaming within my life many of those moments were provided by none other than the venerable PlayStation brand.
Perhaps I should regale you of nostalgic tales of when my brothers and I used to share our alloted gaming time and combine it to take turns with Crash Bandicoot, tear each other up in Twisted Metal, and sing along with Parappa the Rapper. Maybe I should recall the way we all waited with baited breath for the new PlayStation magazine to arrive by mail with it's shiny disc filled with delicious content like videos and demos of upcoming games.
Of course I could tell you of how the first game I ever bought with my own hard earned money was Final Fantasy IX, my first paid for console a PS2 that I worked overtime for, or that one of my penultimate gaming experiences took place on the Playstation 2 with the fantastic Shadow of Colossus (which is still one of my favorite games ever made).
However, none of those would hold the signifigance of what I eventually settled on as one of my fondest memories. Since birth my son had hearing issues: constant ear infections and the like had slowed his language skills and ultimately hampered his learning. Giving him tubes in his ears helped and we placed him in early placement so he could attempt to catch up, but he was having trouble; particularly with his ABCs.
We tried everything from songs to flashcards and nothing seemed to stick with him. One sunny Saturday afternoon my wife and son sat on the couch behind me working on ABCs with flashcards as I reclined on the floor playing Little Big Planet. Now Little Big Planet has special significance on it's own as it's the game that I ended up buying a PlayStation 3 for as it filled my mind with wonder of all the many posibilities and the promise of ultimate creative control. I digress though, back to the sun streaming in the window of our apartment as we enjoyed family time.
The game easily had drawn my son's attention from day one with it's charming aesthetic and held both of our interests with it's witty and humorous dialogue and levels. On a whim as they worked I pulled up the search bar and typed in ABC, something I'd not thought to do before. Several levels popped up and I clicked into the first one I saw. I wish I could tell you the name and creator now, but I do remember being very pleased playing through the level myself and watching the inventive use of Little Big Planet that was before me now.
Each letter was accentuated by some sort of event and usually something that began with each letter would shake, move, crash down or other such fun and exciting things (especially for a child my son's age). It was easy to move through the level and before long I decided to give my son the controller and let him take a crack at it. He laughed, he cheered and ultimately he played the level probably 20 times that week (as children often do with things they like).
Tuesday morning I go to pick him up from school and am met outside at the pick up area by his teacher. First my thoughts turn to trouble, however today it was good news. Not only did my son master A-F, which they were working on at the time, in fact he could say the entire alphabet and associated words. The teachers were amazed and asked what I had done and when I told them video games they look as astounded as they did incredulous. All they'd heard about were the violence of video games, never the merits of them. My son is now 6 and is doing smashingly in school with his academics and is progressing to be quite the story teller. In fact I believe we are almost ready to make our very first LBP level together soon.
Thank you Media Molecule and PlayStation for not only making such a game that would be able to help my son with a good start, but for making a game that extols the virtues of creativity and ignites a passion for it in gamers young and old.