One of my most vivid memories of my grandparents’ house is their packed shelf of NES games. We were a Tetris family. When I’d wake up in the middle of the night, my grandfather and father would be huddled in the glow of their big wood floor model television, hypnotized by the falling blocks and Hirokazu Tanaka’s musical arrangements (that still calm me to this day). We went through a lot of games there, spending hours inside with cousins on rainy days and eventually bringing our N64 along when we just couldn’t bear the thought of playing eight-bit in our teens.
Eventually, when I came back from college, I brought a boy home, an avid online gamer, to meet my grandparents for the weekend. Once everyone was heading to bed, we decided to play a few levels of Super Mario Bros. 2 before heading to the bar for a pint. My boyfriend got tired of playing after about 15 minutes because he “knew how to get to all of the levels already.”
Until that point I hadn’t realized that cheating your way through levels was even something you’d want to do. Was cheating such a foreign notion to me because I had grown up in a different gaming environment than my boyfriend? One study suggests that’s exactly so.