Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Coolest Geek Dad Ever Hacks Donkey Kong for His Daughter



This is fantastic news for geek parents who are introducing their kids to classic video games, so I had to post it here. It was written by game designer Mike Mika and published in Wired magazine, and the article's title says it all: "Why I Hacked Donkey Kong for My Daughter". As Mika writes:
"My daughter ... jumps at the chance to play games with her old man. She’s only 3, but she’s always exhibited a keen interest in games. ... (O)ut of all of the older games, she most enjoys playing Donkey Kong. Maybe it was because it was the first game we really played together, or the fact that she watched the King of Kong documentary with me one afternoon from start to finish. Maybe it’s because Mario looks just like her Grandpa. Whatever the case, we’ve been playing Donkey Kong together for a while. She’s not very good at it, but insists on playing it over and over again until she finally hands me the joystick in total frustration. ... Finally, one day after work, she asked to play Donkey Kong, only this time she raised a pretty innocent and simple question: 'How can I play as the girl? I want to save Mario!'"
So what did Mika do? He hacked Donkey Kong and changed it so that Pauline, the female character in the game, is now saving Mario. So what did his daughter think of it? According to Mika:
"Just like clockwork, she woke up and sat on my lap asking to play Donkey Kong. Only this time, she could play as Pauline. She was excited! But for all she knew, I just figured out how to get Pauline to work. And that was fine. I wasn’t expecting it to change her life. We played for a bit. And some more. And again later. You know what? She really did seem to enjoy the game more. For whatever reason, she was more motivated to play as Pauline than as Mario."
My geek hat is off to you, Mr. Mika. Anything that gets kids of both genders into playing video games and appreciating the classics is a good thing in my opinion, and the fact that you went the extra distance for your daughter is an example that all geek parents should follow. Game on!



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