Games People Play

Monday, October 10, 2005 1:48 AM CDT

Spending leisure time is a personal matter and certainly a personal choice. It has to be that way. We're the only ones who know what relaxes us.That's what is so strange about it when someone questions another's choice on how they choose to relax. We understand our own choice, but we sometimes forget that it's also an individual choice for someone else.
Nancy occasionally plays solitaire on the computer to relax. She was doing so when I came home from work Friday. She was laughing later that she played until her eyes stopped focusing on the cards. I've done the same thing.We started talking about it, noting that it was a lot easier to play for a while when the computer is dealing the caqrds so quickly.She recalled knowing a mother of a friend who played solitaire (with actual playing cards) all the time. When Nancy and other kids were visiting the daughter, the mother was playing solitaire.It is a popular pastime. My mother taught me how to play card games. I remember her buying from a mail-order house a Styrofoam board that had angled slots cut in it for the cards. We used it for a while, but I don't remember what happened to it.Video games are probably the modern-day equivalent of such time-killers. They were born in the 1970s, with the early Pong, tank attack and Space Invaders arcade games.Then came the home versions that came along in the early ‘80s with Mattel's IntelliVision and Atari. I think we bought a Radio Shack clone of IntelliVision, and that was probably the last time I tried to excel at them. As the later generations of video games came along, my kids left me behind. They played it for hours, while I might spend 30 minutes on the weekend.With computers in many homes now, the gaming industry has grown tremendously and the Internet makes it possible to play games against people all over the world. That's an amazing thing to those of us who were excited as kids when Dad brought home a new black-and-white television set.The Internet itself has become a way to do anything you want to do, and you can certainly spend your spare time surfing.Some people still spend their down time watching television. And that pastime can be extended with the use of video recorders and the new digital recorders that are now available. You can watch whatever you want live, and then add several hours of taped or ”Tivo-ed“ programming.My mother used to watch soap operas late at night, after her prime-time shows were over, then get up and go to work and do it all over again. She gets to bed a little earlier, now that she has retired, but she's added ‘Net surfing and e-mail, so she still does some juggling.Other people prefer reading or other hands-on hobbies such as woodworking. And let's not forget the outdoors. Some people would rather be outside fishing, hunting, hiking or camping than anything in the world.I don't do much outdoors any more, but I certainly understand the passion. Waking up warm and toasty in a sleeping bag is unmatched by anything known to man. Then breakfast over a fire makes you feel more alive.Now that satellite radio is available with portable units that you can clip to your belt, it may be time to reconsider. If I have my XM radio bringing me St. Louis Cardinals baseball games, I can go anywhere ...Mike Dougherty is city editor of the Benton Courier. His column appears Sunday and Thursday.

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