But out of all of the older games, she most enjoys playing Donkey Kong. Maybe it was because it was the first game we really played together, or the fact that she watched the King of Kong documentary with me one afternoon from start to finish. Maybe it’s because Mario looks just like her Grandpa. Whatever the case, we’ve been playing Donkey Kong together for a while. She’s not very good at it, but insists on playing it over and over again until she finally hands me the joystick in total frustration.
Finally, one day after work, she asked to play Donkey Kong, only this time she raised a pretty innocent and simple question: “How can I play as the girl? I want to save Mario!”
It made sense. We had just played Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES a few days before, and she became obsessed with playing as Princess Toadstool. So to go back to Donkey Kong, I can see how natural it seemed to ask the question. I explained to her that Donkey Kong, while similar, is not the same game. On this occasion, I really could tell that she was disappointed. She really liked Donkey Kong, and really liked playing as Princess Toadstool. We left it at that and moved on.
But that question! It kept nagging at me. Kids ask parents all the time for things that just aren’t possible. But this time, this was different. I’m a game developer by day. I could do this.