Do Kids Still Play LEGO?

Do kids still play LEGO these days? This one (yours truly) still does. I don’t have a LEGO set over here in Perth, but I’ve found myself building stuff with my old sets every time I go back to Mauritius. I did that recently when I went back for two weeks. I find it relaxing to sit down, start digging into the big box of parts, shifting through the plastic to find the appropriate bits, and putting them together. My dad once bought me a LEGO set for Christmas, and I asked for a new one for every Christmas and birthdays for the following few years until I had a sizable collection of parts. I would follow the instructions to build whatever the new set was supposed to build – once. After I’ve satisfied my curiosity, I would never build it again. I prefer mixing parts from all the other sets to build original stuff. Back then the LEGO parts were pretty simple. You didn’t get all the weird and wonderful shapes that you do today. Building something from the simple primitives was more challenging and rewarding than it is today. And a LEGO set was more versatile as a result too. I tend to build vehicles rather than buildings – wheeled vehicles, ships, aircrafts, spacecrafts, bots. It’s always sad tearing down something you’ve spent a couple of hours building, but there are never enough parts, and the fun is in building new things. So the finished product must be dismantled so that the parts can be recycled into new creations.

Later on I got into drawing stuff on the family’s 286 PC. Unlike LEGO parts, there are plenty of pixels to go around and one never runs out of it. The software was pretty limited and I found myself building things pixel by pixel – a process not dissimilar to building something using LEGO. Except that I only had one primitive. I did have a huge amount of possible colours to choose from though – a whooping 256 different colours! These days they call this pixel art.

Eventually I discovered that QBASIC was also installed on the machine. I started playing around with code, but I confess that I must have written awful stuff. I didn’t know how to use functions. I guess reading help files is pretty limited if you haven’t been taught any programming concepts. I played around with fractals and started a simple battleship game which I never completed. Back then there was no internet, no WWW and no Google. These days I can’t imagine myself coding without Googling around for stuff every now and then.

I also used to enjoy technical drawing at school and at one point wanted to be an architect. Then I found out that it usually takes 7 years of tertiary schooling before one can become an architect. So I forgot about that. I decided that I would become a programmer. Aiming to work for LEGO seemed to be too much of a gamble. What if they didn’t want me? I would be stuck with no skills other than putting plastic bits together!

While on my way to become a programmer, I discovered web design and was hooked. I still liked creating graphics, but I confess that I was never much of a drawer. I can draw pretty good renderings of vehicles and buildings, but I totally suck at drawing organic shapes. Eventually I studied Multimedia (that’s so a 90′s term) and Computer Science.

Today I’m a developer. I do some web design now and then, but I see myself primarily as a developer. This is where I want to go. Until LEGO offer me a job :D

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