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My son, the Tycoon

Written By: Jodi on May 28, 2005 One Comment

We’re a pretty tech-savvy family. We like the latest gadgets and gizmos and haven’t really felt the need to shun modern technology. Don’t get me wrong, I love history – I just don’t want to live in it. And our children are right here with us. My 6 year old is a computer whiz. He’s been playing some fairly advanced games for awhile now. Even things like Train Simulator and Flight Simulator, which are probably intended for a bit older age group. Now, he doesn’t always understand the deeper strategies of these things, but he certainly knows how to play and have a ton of fun doing it. He digs out every little feature as he’s playing.

Some of his favorites are the “Tycoon” games. Monopoly Tycoon, Zoo Tycoon and Roller Coaster Tycoon. He spends hours playing these. Even when he’s not on the computer. He’ll start the game and then leave to go play elsewhere or have his afternoon rest time, leaving the game running “just to see what happens”. A lot of his activities are done for this reason – just to see what happens.

So last night, my husband goes to check on my son as he’s playing Roller Coaster Tycoon and comes back rather amused. My son had built a ride and as the people left the ride after it was over, each one would fall into a deep pit he’d constructed at the exit. There was no way out. So all these ‘peeps’ (as he has informed me they are to be called) are wandering around aimlessly in this pit (uninjured, for the record). But, lest you feel too sorry for them, the ‘peeps’ were able to buy balloons. I guess a balloon seller also fell in the pit?? I asked if somebody could buy enough balloons to float out of the pit, but that didn’t seem to be an option. Last I knew, he was considering building some stairs so the people could leave. Considerate of him, wasn’t it? This is where the lack of strategy comes in…customers falling into a pit that they can’t get out of at the end of a ride really cuts down on your repeat business. I have yet to figure out why there is an option to build a pit in that game, but leave it to my son to find out how to do it and exploit it.

Of course, this behavior isn’t as surprising as it might be if you know his history with Zoo Tycoon. One of his favorite things to do is build an enclosure for dinosaurs and fill it completely with dinosaur eggs. The zoo fills with guests and eventually the dinosaur eggs begin to hatch. After most of the dinosaurs break out of their shells, my son knocks down part of the fence so he can watch the dinosaurs chase the zoo patrons. Apparently it is great fun to watch the masses run for their lives. I think I have my brother-in-law to thank for putting this particular idea into his head.

Should I be bothered by all of this? We strictly limit him to non-violent games and for the most part only get games that have some educational value. Yet, he still manages to do something quasi-destructive in them. But when I talk to him about it, he assures me that he knows it’s only pretend and he would never do that with real people. In fact, he acts kind of insulted that I feel the need to question him about it. And he’s pretty responsible about making sure there are enough custodians to clean the amusement park and that animals get fed and have the right environments in the zoo. He’s also pretty good at flying a Boeing 747. So I think he’s actually learning things that I want him to learn from this.

And as far as the other things…well, he’s a 6 year old boy with the power to hatch dinosaur eggs. Who knows what we would have done at his age if we had had that opportunity. We caught fireflies to steal their blinkers and irritated the neighbors by putting trading cards in our bike spokes. I’m sure everyone can think of things they did as a child that make them cringe now. So is it really so bad for my son to dig pits and tear down dinosaur fences in an imaginary world? I’m thinking it’s okay for him to dream big dreams as he builds these worlds of his, and maybe make a bit of childish mischief along the way. At least it’s clever mischief.

Still, you may want to watch your step when attending amusement parks in about 20 years time. You just never know…

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One Response to “My son, the Tycoon”

  1. Robbyn Feng says on: 26 July 2010 at 4:57 pm

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