Too Real


Kim used to love first person shooters.

I'm not sure that's a trait you want in your wife.

There was a game that ran on Mac System 7 that was some grid based layout with ramps up and down. You drove a tank that dropped down on the planet and you drove it around and rotated the gun and shot at things that were threatening.

It was a shareware app that I downloaded for her. We used to argue about that. I would tell her she had a week or two to play it to see if she liked it but if she kept it she had to pay for it.

In those days there wasn't much to discourage you playing without paying but she never liked paying for games and I wouldn't let her keep a game without paying for it.

The game was clunky - not that much to it. Drive around and every once in a while a monster or alien or something non-descript would appear and you'd try to shoot it.

Actually, I'm not sure that that's how it was played. I do remember that when you shot the things you were shooting they'd break apart and disappear.

A couple of months later I downloaded a game that was much more realistic. The villains arms and legs moved fairly naturally as they walked and ran and there was a great deal of blood and drama when they died.

It was too real for Kim. She didn't like it.

She wanted something more real than Space Invaders but less real than this.

It's the last shooting game she ever played.

I know that Pixar talks about making the characters in their movies look real but not too real. There's a creepiness that comes in the "too real". Your mind can give life like characteristics to fairly real characters and you can relate to them as if they're real. But when they look too real we have a problem with them.

I want to provide rich metaphors and environments for kids to learn but leave enough space for their imagination. I want to avoid something that is too real.

This could be rooted in the many hours I spent playing the System 7 game "Glider".