I’m cruising by my son working at the computer the other morning. It’s early, before school. He likes to steal a few minutes in the morning to work on his drawings of Bionicles, these warrior toys put out by Lego. He’s got a bunch of the toys, as well as some of the newer lineup of toys called Hero Factory, also put out by Lego. These figures are made to be assembled by kids, then broken down and reassembled into new characters by swapping parts.
Anyone who has ever dealt with Lego toys will know what I mean. My kid is nuts over these things, so much so that he has researched the mythology that surrounds the Bionicles and their universe. He understands this mythology with a depth that I find astounding, and he is all about abiding by the rules of this universe in making his drawings of the Bionicles. He does sets of drawings. Each set has six characters. No more. No less. Each set is a team based on the fact that in the Bionicle universe, the Toas–basically warrior leaders of the Bionicles–represent elements over which they have power. Earth, Ice, Water, Air, Stone, and Fire. He may create new characters for his drawings. He may totally make up new names that aren’t official Bionicle names. But the teams will always be six and always represent those elements. Because those are the rules of that universe.
After the jump, you never studied
On this particular morning he was using our mini computer to get Bionicle picture ideas, but that’s not what I saw as I went by the dining room table on my way to the laundry basket to get his school clothes. What I saw on the screen was a stat chart. I froze and looked at the screen he was studying. It showed the stats of a Bionicle he was researching named Kongu. Strength: 10. Agility: 12. Toughness: 11. Mind: 11.
I realized my kid was learning stats as he designed his next team. I’ve seen him choosing weapons and defenses in his builds before, but seeing the stat chart was jarring. My kid is six. No matter how much I play this game I realize I will never be as good at it as he will someday be. Because he will respect the rules. He will pay attention to the stats and will build a team accordingly. I’m a button-masher. An attack spammer. I won’t stand a chance.
Oh, and by ‘someday’, I mean by next year. At the latest.
One of the unexpected joys of being a parent has been watching this love of taxonomy develop. My son has gone through several phases of interest. Geography. Solar System. Dinosaurs. Each time he keyed on the classification system for the particular area of interest. Breaking down countries and continents. Learning planets and dwarf planets. Separating time periods and types of dinosaurs. This has translated to his toys, and toymakers clearly know this. They understand that there is an inherent need and/or desire in the human mind to order and classify and furthermore, to respect the rules of classification once they have been laid down.
I find real beauty in this as I see it developing in my son, and yet, somewhere along the way I lost my ability to comprehend it. I like the idea of taxonomy. I have several sets of journals for instance, based on different subjects of interest. I have my dvd and book collections each classified in ways that are specific to me. But when it comes to working out stats and classifications for my Pokemon team, I am at a total loss. No matter how many sites the good folks who comment here recommend to me, I’m utterly befuddled.
This is going to end up biting me in the ass when I start going head-to-head against humans in this game. Which is going to happen. I’ll go up against somebody who gets the numbers. Who understands the classifications. Who gets why my attack selections, and even my Pokemon match-up choices, make no sense because sending a fire-type to go against a whatever-type is idiotic. I’ll see my opponent smile a slight little smile as I select my attack or send in a new team member and I’ll know that he knows I have no idea what I’m doing.
There is beauty in this. I see that. But it also sucks. You who grok these things won’t get this. You’ll think, “Suck it up, Dingus! Learn the numbers!” You’re right. And you’re wrong. You see the beautiful green flowing code. I just see the pictures.
Speaking of which, I just totally forgot what I was talking about. Classification? Taxonomy? Meh, whatever. My team will be fine. Why? I just captured an electric pony (pictured). And he is totally boss. Put that in your chart and smoke it.