Several years ago we got Najwa an Xbox. I read some articles about how Minecraft was pretty popular in schools and for kids in general because it combined engineering with creativity. It was a game, but it was also a learning tool. This was her first introduction to video games. Soon, she was asking me about a gaming platform for kids called Roblox. It was free and seemed to be safe for kids. Millions of them. All over the world. All playing simultaneously.
I was talking to my homeboy Daz about it. Looking back, it must’ve been confusing to him my fascination considering hundreds of millions of people play online games together every day. This was new to me. Up to that point I did get a couple of games to play solo that I remembered from when I last played games a couple of decades ago. I’m talking Atari 64 days.
He introduced me to a game called Ark: Survival Evolved. You wake up mostly on a beach, wearing virtually nothing, surrounded by a vast empty landscape populated with dinosaurs, seem harmless like the Dodo bird and others looking at you as a snack.
When Daz’ character showed up on my TV, it was a revolutionary moment for me. That feeling of being in this virtual world but not alone was, well, futuristic for me. Over the next several months after recruiting a few others like our high school buddy Mike, we spent hours, into the wee hours of the night/morning, playing the game. We fought, built and explored together. We met others every now and again, had a couple epic battles and by way of osmosis learned a little bit about dinosaurs.
Fast forwarding to today, Nduku suggested we check out this drive-thru exhibit at RFK Stadium called Jurassic Quest. You drive through the parking lot which had these massive mechanical models of dinosaurs. So, we grabbed Najwa, her friend Azaria, and headed to another world.
For the kids, it was fun. I think anything to get them out the house in these times of coronavirus was going to be fun.
But for me, it was nostalgic. After many months spent scavenging the pixelated worlds of Ragnarok, Aberration, The Island and a few others; fighting off or taming a collection of dinosaurs and experiencing countless resurrections because of untimely deaths, seeing these same dinosaurs in the real world brought me back to my first foray into gaming.
There was the innocuous dilophosaurus in which the audio tour reminded me that it was theorized it spit poison at its prey. It did in the game. There was an ankylosaurus, megalodon, the thieving oviraptor and many others I remember from the game. Even a therizinosaurus that brought back the memory of spending hours, literally, attempting to tame it, feeding it thousands of narcoberries and keeping our head on a swivel for prowling predators. And then it woke up moments before we were able to completely tame it. And all hell broke loose when it opened its eyes and decided to have us for lunch.
Anyway, Jurassic Quest was a blast. I probably enjoyed it more than the others. Might even get back into Ark just to relive some of the good old days.
There there were signs everywhere saying to do not stick body parts out the window, many people let their kids hang out the sunroof or windows. So, we did too.