Are games for children and something to be put aside when we get older and life gets serious? Or should life never get serious? And how does electronics play into that?
Here in the U.K. we are about to stage the London Olympic Games. It will be hard to do better than the amazing ceremony that opened the Beijing Olympics four years before, so I am expecting that we won't even try, but will instead do something quaintly British.
Games are important: they make life fun and are a great way to learn. Human beings never learn faster than when they are babies and everything they do is a form of play.
As a boy I loved to play the curious game of cricket. There is so much pleasure to be had just by whacking a ball with a bat. I also liked playing with Lego bricks, which could be used to build anything. This was when they were truly building blocks and application agnostic – apart from the odd roof tile, door, window and wheel.
But as I grew up there was also a sense of putting away childish things and moving on towards something more responsible with the idea that technology should be used to create wealth, well being and to rebuild the world. There was a sense that there was a responsibility to try and leave the world a better place than you found it.
And when electronics components were Lego-like building blocks – and not application specific – they were generally applied in a functional way to serious tasks in defense, communications, industrial and professional equipment. While gradually consumer electronics also became a more significant part of the mix.
Things changed for me when I met a salesman for a U.K. distributor of an audio DSP chip back in the early 1990s.
The distributor was eager to gain coverage for the chip which could provide umpteen sorts of pre-programmed reverberation as well as a sound boost which he demonstrated with a section of video from the film Top Gun. You could even have both, so that Maverick's F-14 could be made to sound like it was screaming through a cathedral, cathedral, cathedral.
"How cool is that?" the salesman asked me in an excited manner.