Mario Dad & Son

If there’s a God, Andy Baio is doing his or her work.

Andy, a 37 year old dude from Portland, Oregon, has his priorities right. While the rest of us are content to plop our kids down in front of whatever the most recent video game is, Baio wanted to know what would happen if he ran his son through the history of video games from past to present.

I can’t tell you how badly I wanted to leap through the computer and hug the crap out of Andy when I first read this story.

Andy’s experiment with his then-four year old son, Eliot goes like this: he and his son would play through and step up in gaming eras, starting with his own old Atari 2600 and some old arcade games. They played for a couple of months, then moved up to the NES and SEGA. The next year, SNES, Game Boy, and classic PC adventure games. Then a year on PlayStation and N64. Then, Xbox and GBA…and he’d continue until they were “caught up” to modern gaming.

This is genius, right?

So, first of all, read Andy’s article on Medium, titled “Playing With My Son”.

Andy played through a ton of games with Eliot. Here’s a quick and dirty list, compiled from his article:

Galaxian, Rally-X, Bosconian, Dig Dug, Pac-Man, Super Pac-Man, Pac-Man Plus,Pac & Pal, Ms. Pac-Man, Galaga, Mappy, Pole Position, Xevious, Asteroids, Kaboom!, Adventure, Combat, E.T., The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros. 1-3, Mega Man 1–6, Castlevania 1–3, Rygar, Contra, Duck Tales, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, Super Mario World, E.V.O: Search for Eden, Mario 64, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Rocket: Robot on Wheels, ICO, Shadow of the Colossus, Katamari Damacy

Andy said he doesn’t have a full list of the games they played available (which disappoints an Excel geek like me) because they just played too many. “I barely talked about PC stuff at all [in the article],” Andy told me. “We’ve played classic adventures like Secret of Monkey Island and Day of the Tentacle, Doom and Quake III when he got old enough, Psychonauts, etc. Seriously, too many for me to remember.”

After all these years of gaming packed into a short time, I had to know what current games Eliot – now 10 years old – enjoys. “Eliot’s most recent obsessions included Don’t StarveSuper Smash Bros for the Wii U, Nuclear Throne, Rogue Legacy, and Goat Simulator,” Andy told me. “He never seems to get tired of Minecraft or Terraria, both great games that I’m incredibly burned out on.”

BTW, Eliot also beat Spelunky, including the very difficult “Hell” ending – and might have been the youngest ever to do it.

Somehow, Andy didn’t just create a kid who appreciates games. He created The Wizard.

Andy told me that he’s got a couple current favorites that are different than Eliot’s: “I keep coming back to Gridland (free, web), Desert Golfing, Threes, and Pair Solitaire. I recently finished Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Framed, and Space Age—all great for totally different reasons.”

No Andy, you’re great.

Have you dedicated a lot of time on the “classics” with your children? Are they daunted by the difficulty? Are they off-put by the graphics? Or do they find it more accessible? Let us know in the comments!

(Also I have no idea who the dudes in our header image are. I tried to trace it back to an original image and got nowhere. If it’s you, lemme know.)