I was reading Steven Frank’s excellent piece (via Daring Fireball) about growing up and playing Dragon’s Lair and there was one passage that struck me where he wrote about ordering a strategy guide from some guy who’s name he found in the back of a magazine.
“I begged my parents. Weeks later, my strategy guide arrived (a few black and white photocopied sheets of paper stapled together), and I began studying.”
I made the same observation last month when my 12-year-old daughter got a Rubik’s cube. I was “of age” when Rubik’s cubes were a big deal and I had one. (Although mine was a smaller knock-off attached to a keychain.)
Learning to solve the Rubik’s cube was a spirit quest for me. I spent hours spinning that thing, learned tips from friends, and kept little notecards with spinning recipes. (Yes. Notecards.) Even then, I didn’t know anyone that could solve the later stages. I felt I may never solve it and then I heard of The Guide. The Guide was talked about in hushed whispers at Vina Danks Junior High. Most of us believed it existed but none of us saw it. Its existence was an article of faith.
Then Jamie’s older brother got his hands on The Guide and a meeting was arranged. The Guide was a piece of paper that had been passed through more hands then the map Indiana Jones uses at the beginning of Raiders of the Lost Ark. It bore smudges and dirt and stains and what I thought was blood but, in hindsight, was much more likely ketchup. It was beautiful. After a two month journey, The Guide helped me finally solve the Rubik’s cube. More notecards were made.
My daughter solved her Rubik’s cube in 2 days. The only reason it took so long is because she was too busy to go on YouTube the first day. To 1980 me, the idea of the Internet and the ability to find solutions to the Rubik’s cube on my telephone was inconceivable. I wonder what will exist in 35 years that is inconceivable to my twelve-year-old today.