Math Blaster taught me time management

OK, it might’ve also helped me a little with math too. I can’t remember.

I’m thinking of the old version of Math Blaster I used to play on our family’s XT clone when I was little. You know, back in the day when not only were floppy disks were actually floppy, but when plenty of games required you to boot from the floppy instead of running under DOS.

[Irrelevant aside: last week when I went to the office store to buy a new ink cartridge for my printer, the guy ahead of me in line was buying a box of 100 floppy disks. Who needs that many floppies these days?]

I can’t remember most of the game modes, but I do remember the final one pretty well. You controlled a guy, and your objective was to use the cannons to shoot yourself into the block that had the right answer to the arithmetic question in it. You get points for each one you get right. Simple, right?

Of course not. You had not one, but two, sorts of “timers” on the left and right edges of the screen. One was a balloon that would slowly drift down towards a needle or spike, and the other was something else but ran along the same lines. If you let the balloon pop, the game ended, so you periodically had to run over to one side of the screen so your guy could hit the balloon back up to the top of the screen.

If that’s not a metaphor for successful time management, I don’t know what is.

Maybe our goal in life isn’t to use cannons to shoot ourselves into numbers floating in the sky in order to score points, but we do have our own personal goals nonetheless. The things we’d spend all of our time doing if we were left to our own devices.

But we can’t spend all of our time chasing after them, since we have other things that we need to do. Maybe it’s homework, or a job, or hitting a balloon into the air, or whatever, but it’s there, and it doesn’t go away, and you can’t ever get rid of it entirely. If you let them go unchecked for too long, bang, you’re dead. So you have to run off and take care of them long enough to take care of any immediate problem, so you can safely go back and do something else for a while. It’s not quite juggling, but if you can keep everything up in the air, there’s no limit to how far you can go.

When she was younger, my sister also played Math Blaster, but it was the (at the time, at least) newer version of it. It didn’t have that game mode.

I wonder how much of our differences in handling our responsibilities is caused by that.

3 Responses

  1. Thanks for mentioning me. As for “handling our responsibilities”, I handle mine just fine thank you very much.

  2. Jesus Paul, I never thought you would have put so much thought into the philosophical ramifications in a youth’s life thanks to Math Blaster. It’s much like how I learned to dodge authorities from playing games in my childhood on one of those TI computers you hook up to your television instead of a monitor. Speaking of which, I haven’t played “MunchMan” yet today. Off I go.

  3. Amy: Fun fact: The top item on my to-do list is over two weeks overdue.

    Mark: The workings of my brain are truly frightening indeed.

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