When I was in grade school we learned a lot while playing what seemed to be very fun video games — games such as The Oregon Trail, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, and Lemonade Stand. Each of the games had lessons that were valuable for children, many of which I treasure even now.

In The Oregon Trail, you have to plan out what you are going to want to bring with you on a long trip and believe me that if you don’t plan just right, you don’t have any chance of winning the game. In my life it has taken me many years but I have finally developed the skills necessary to plan out what I need to take with me on a daily basis to survive the subway along with what I need to pack when I go on vacation.

In the game Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego, we had to put together clues and follow through with logic and reasoning. Similarly, in life, we often are presented with puzzles. At my office, for example, I am often presented with mysteries of why insurance claims are getting rejected and so I have to call the insurance companies and determine exactly what information is incorrect. Just the other day a client told me that he had not been receiving electronic estimation of benefits through our software and I figured out through a series of logical steps why that was the case — and I ended up saving a lot more people problems at the same time.

Lemonade Stand brought out in me what I believe to be my drive and need to calculate how to make and sell things at a profit. I can’t even remember how many hundreds of hours I pored over the screen, thinking about buying lemons at a discount, advertising at just the right moment, and setting the right cost for the lemonade so that I would make a good profit. It is entirely possible that an entire generation of capitalists were raised on this game.

Nowadays the games that the children and adults play are intrinsically connected to some sort of social networking. For example, millions of people connect through games such as FarmVille and FrontiereVille. There are friends I have on Facebook with whom I do not really keep in touch but who are my best friends in terms of sending me gifts and taking care of my farms in these various games. The games themselves encourage making such requests of your friends — the alternative to having such friends being paying real money for in game completion of tasks.

It is pleasant to think back on my young life and how much I learned from the interactions both with the computer and with friends online. I suppose that interacting with people online is better than interacting with a pre-written bunch of code. Then again, it is even better to interact with people who are not attached to a computer when you are interacting with them! One step at a time, though — right?


  1. Great article, Gordon! I played Lemonade Stand all the time. I think I mainly played it on my Treo 600. I seem to remember the key to making a lot of money — for my style of play — was to bulk up on sugar when the price was low right at the start of the game because it never rotted, and sweeter lemonade sold better, and then having massive sales on rainy days to get rid of my old lemons without using as much sugar on the sunny days. Ah, the memories of young, fake, entrepreneurship! SMILE!